Cafe Louvre in Prague
Notes written at Cafe Louvre on notecards they leave on the tables in case patrons have epiphanies:
I feel like I've learned so much about dancing and I haven't even danced yet. I've slowed down and actually looked at the people, the woman with the red hat, red lipstick, black dress with white polka dots watching the 2 girls laugh and "splash" around in the water bubble on the river. I've drunk beer, seen torture instruments and the most beautiful violet-glowing stained glass windows, and eaten svichkova and a flat white with hazelnut milk, climbed "abs and glutes" down and up a forrest path, ate the sticky pastry thing. I volunteered the information that I was Jewish for the first time since coming to Europe, remembering that I embarked on this Zouk journey in search of community, trying to find one more diverse that also spoke to me. I like dances I study, but not all dances create communities, which is why this one is so special. I'm sitting by an open sunny window enjoying my food, reading the international New York Times/"slime" that my Popy taught me how to fold, thinking I've learned more about dance in talking and eating with people in Prague than at many workshops combined... also why are you making a laughingstock of us, NYT? smh...
I need to stop trying to share/teach and just listen. This is research, not personal. Right? How much do I want my voice present as I'm also making a name for myself, not just as a voice recorder. For sure, there are people who know me in Poland now. I mean, I was pretty memorable. How does an American girl with no ties to Poland end up attending a Brazilian Zouk festival in Katowice? I may have felt intimidated after leading the Polish girls (considered the best Follows in Europe), but still me being different is important and valuable in this community. Don't change your dance, Sydney! Keep learning, but acknowledge that by now I am finding my own voice in this dance. I have defaults and styling that flow and feel good and natural that I can both enjoy and evolve. Don't be like everyone else. Knowledge should be empowering, not prevent you from walking because you don't know which of the 27 ways you now know is "right."
Epiphany brought to you by espresso.
BraSilesia Zouk Festival
On the train from Katowice to Prague...
Wow, that was weird. The energy changed instantly for me when we stopped in Bohumin. It's not so different outside, still lots of trees and open fields, maybe the sun came out. Maybe there are less z's in the words. Whatever it is Poland was uncomfortable or perhaps rainy, although the tracks were better kept. A bit bumpy there, eh? Ok, so I made it to Katowice, made it to the venue (long hot walk, long wander around a huge sports center, back alley to zouk workshop heaven). I was greeted with hisses and hugs like family, informed I was "on the list", changed and hopped into workshops with Gilson (who remembered me from NYC!) and Maria. I somehow met Chris and Jola, went to the hostel with them, couldn't connect to wifi or my New York friends with whom I was supposed to be staying, and decided to book my own room for the weekend...
Unlike many Friday Congress parties, I had an amazing night of dancing. Perhaps I was already grounded from having attended the workshops along with most of the other participants. Or perhaps I'm getting better at entering into new spaces.
Warsaw was really intense. A confused and still war torn city. Still wanting to recover from a war over 75 years ago, I doubt the scars will fade even after those who were there have long gone. You have old buildings intact and restored (albeit poorly), old battle scarred buildings left with bullet and granade chunks riddling the facades as people live normal lives within the walls. Sky scrapers rise from patches of green, randomly dotting a non-skyline. You have remnants of pre war, war, communist post war, post communist free for all, and modern regulations. No city planning. It's an expression of the psychological history if its inhabitants, confused, trying to put themselves together, polluted by American fast food chains, electronics, shopping and auto companies boasting big signs, and "Stalin's gift" sitting mattter-of-factly beside the Warszawa Central Station where the British Starbucks, Costa Coffee, puts stickers over its flapjack bars, which have so much sugar they feel as Polish as the granola bars from the bodegas. I visited the Ghetto heroes monument and cried, then got lost/had a mini tour of a more respectable, lovely and quiet suburb of the city, had a zouk private where I connected this Brazilian dance to an Israeli modern dance technique, qigong, and American contact improvisation (inspired by Akido) by a Polish dancer in English, and I led, had lunch with a friend I met in Paris and stayed with in Amsterdam, attended a Zouk social where I discovered Polish "beginners" are North American intermediate dancers, and learned that you do not eat a plate of pierogis for lunch if you plan on eating dinner or breakfast the next morning.
Professor on the train
I met a history of science professor (knowing how small my department was, this was tremendously shocking and absolutely wonderful) on the train from Delft to Warsaw. We spoke about my research and he suggested a number of things:
This morning I woke up in Delft. 5 hours later I'm at a station stop just inside Germany. It was a little sprinkly and cool out and I passed by a bakery with fresh pastry smells flowing out of it but didn't stop because A) I didn't want to miss my train and B) I was afraid I might get caught in real rain as my umbrella was under my stuff in my day pack. Genius move given the current location, that one.... -- Wow, what a weird feeling. Two "polizei" came on the train while stopped and I felt a jolt. Same thing when we left the station in the Netherlands and the man across the aisle from me who had been softly narrating the journey to his friend announced "and now we are in Germany." It's like a weird homecoming thing, like there's something in the ground. So much history for not only my people, but also I've never been to any country where my family comes from. Israel is different because it's a place where we went. Germany is a place where we left. Anyway... -- I arrived at the station, the most modern building possible to look out of place in a town with medieval canals, asked and discovered that I can literally walk on and off any interrail trains using the QR square on my Eurail pass, saw a matrix-like bike parking lot, and went back upstairs to find my "fresh" Dutch stroopwafle. I found one labeled as having been made last night (good enough), got an espresso, sat on a bench by the window and watched as the bikers pedaled through the rain...
Sydney Schiff Dance Project