The overnight trip to Munich, Germany the day after Thanksgiving went very well... aisle seat, quiet neighbor, well-behaved children behind me..and a warm muffin top to add to my muffin top for breakfast. The Munich airport was a shopper's delight! Hermes, Diesel, Porsche design....little bistros. I wore a scarf so I fit right in!

They had little pods where you could pay 15 euros to sleep for an hour. Brilliant! Never saw so many smokers ...smoking lounges were everywhere! Santa chocolate in every window!

Flew from there to Dresden with Bill Fowler, IDO Honorary Lifetime President and Jørn Storbråten the current president of IDO. Traveled by van to the quaint little city of Riesa on the banks of the Elbe River. The entire city is taken over for two weeks each year for the World Championships of Show dance and of course, Tap Dance. We went almost immediately to the Gala and the finals for the World Show dance Championships at the amazing Erdgas Arena. Such creativity and talent! I'm gonna have to work harder....truly inspirational.

We stayed at a traditional little German hotel called the Sachsenhof. I had a tiny little room that turned out to be a really comfy home away from home. There was a breakfast set out every morning and, despite the heat going out and no hot water one day, it was quiet, convenient and neat as a pin. No internet and no English-speaking TV I watched Nutcracker, Three and a Half Men, the Voice and played lots of games on the iPad. Most of the judges stayed there and all the meetings were held there too! Fascinating to see dance teachers from all over the world (sometimes with interpreters) discuss the future of tap and the rules governing the IDO Competitions. Every other hotel within a 80 mile radius was taken over by dance teams from all over the world.

I took the train all by myself from Riesa back to Dresden on Sunday to see the sights and the visit the Christmas Market (Striezelmarkt) . It was an amazing day of shopping, eating and drinking warm spiced wine in little glass cups (Glühwein).  Hundreds of fresh pine-covered booths full of goodies! Made it home in one piece and went to the small mall on the cobblestone street and sidewalk just down from my hotel.

Monday was the Judges Seminar and testing for IDO Judging Rules and the subjects that we plan on judging. Took about 4 hours and although I was very nervous, I was happy to hear that I had passed the rules exam and the exams for Tap and Jazz. I am very proud to be certified to be an International Judge for the IDO. That evening we attended a dinner and reception sponsored by the Mayoress of Riesa at their wonderful Museum. They had a big Stief Bear exhibit and then took a private tour of the museum where I learned a bunch about the history of Riesa and Bavaria. Very Cool!!!

The World Tap Championships began on Tuesday and, after I shook off the nerves, was a lot of fun. Judges from the USA (me), Russia, Italy, Croatia, Canada, South Africa, Germany, England, Australia. Very Thankful to Bill Fowler, Irma Ziegler, Michael Wendt and Dr. Velibor Srdic from Bosnia for helping me through my week. The talent was absolutely astonishing! Our USA team made up of dancers from Nancy Chippendale's Dance Studio and Seven Star School of Performing Arts made me very proud. Go to the IDO website to see all the medals we won! It was a lot!!!

I was also chosen as one of the 3 judges to select the solo improv section called the Battle of the Feet. My favorite part of my entire job was putting the medals around the necks of so many deserving dancers and watching them stand on the podiums to enjoy their flags and anthems! (The Star Spangled banner made me tear up every time!) I could picture Caitlin, Brett and the USA 2002 team every time. It was an exhausting, nerve wracking week full of fabulous experiences and new friends from all over the world. I was honored and humbled to sit in judgement of that level of talent and I assure you...the future of Tap Dance is truly incredible. I hope I get a chance to do it all again!

My suitcases were completely stuffed full of pasta (made in Riesa and our judge's gifts from the city) chocolate, gift and crafts from the Dresden market, T-shirts, a pair of new shoes, gummie bears (Haribo is also big there), KinderEggs (chocolate with toys inside!!!!), posters, ornaments and little gifts from my new friends. My trip lasted one extra, unexpected day when the Philadelphia airport got socked with snow and all I had were my noodles and chocolate to keep me company. Between the frustration, the crowds and the six hour time difference, a night in a questionable hotel and help from a very nice woman in the US Airways Club, I was more than happy to finally get home on Monday evening.

Now it's time for Nutcracker week! (Nussknacker in german I found out)

I'm posting pictures of my week so you can see a bit of what made it all so special.


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