In about 1979 or 1980, I was in a 7-person company in NYC. We were to have two performances at SUNY (State University of New York) in Purchase, NY, where Jacques D'Amboise was the Dean of the dance department. Being a gymnastic dance company, we had to lug around enough floor mats to cover the stage, plus carpet to cover the mats, so we usually rented a van when we travelled. This time, a friend of the director offered us the use of his van, which offer was gratefully accepted.
Unfortunately, there had been a very heavy snowstorm during the night, and a very fast thaw the day we travelled. So by the time we got out of Manhattan, the highways were quite flooded. The van also turned out to be not such a great deal, and we had problems with it even before we got out of Manhattan. But once we hit the soggy highways, our real problems began. Despite driving very slowly so as not to create waves, the engine compartment frequently got flooded, making the engine stall. Each time, we'd have to sit it out until we could get the van started again. Since we couldn't get the engine started, that meant we had to sit for long periods in an unheated van when the temperature was only slightly above freezing. And to top it all off, our all-in-one sound/lighting/stage manager person had a bad case of flu, and had to keep getting out of the van to throw up, poor guy.
I just checked the estimated driving time from lower Manhattan to Purchase - it's 53 minutes. It'd be slower in the snow, of course, but still, we'd planned a leisurely drive, set up, tech, and dinner before the performance. As it was, we got to the theater in time to set up and do the hastiest tech possible. We didn't have time for dinner, but Mr. D'Amboise had provided standard cheese & veggie trays, so we didn't starve.
Since that weekend was during a university vacation and most students were away, the theatre had been depending on local people to make up an audience. But, the weather being what it was, we had only a couple of dozen people (who received us enthusiastically). Mr. D'Amboise said he'd understand if we chose to cancel the next day's performance, since driving conditions were expected to be about the same (it snowed again that night). But we figured as long as we were there, we might as well fulfill our contract.
So, after the performance, we made our way to Rye, NY, where we had motel reservations. According to Yahoo! maps, that takes 11 minutes. Well, a couple of hours and several engine stalls later, we pulled up to the motel. It's a good thing we found a supermarket on the way, because by the time we got to the motel, the restaurant was closed. Then there was a logistical problem with who was going to share beds in the two rooms, because of the guy with the flu. The guy who was supposed to share with him refused, so this spoiled the careful plan that was to keep a recently split-up couple in our group from having to be in the same room.
But eventually it all got straightened out, and we left in plenty of time to allow for more stalled engines, and we actually had maybe 40 people in the audience!
It wasn't such a bad experience for me, because I didn't have the flu, and it sort of made up for everything to get to talk to Jacques D'Amboise about my first teacher, who was from NYCB. But I don't think anyone else found anything to be glad about. Years later, while visiting two of my friends who'd been in the company, I said, "Remember that trip to SUNY?" One of my friends looked horrified, and told me she'd actually successfully blocked it from her memory until I brought it up.
<small>[ 18 February 2003, 10:12 PM: Message edited by: djb ]</small>