Studio News

Fundraiser complete – SUCCESS!

Wow, what an amazing success! Our Studio REBOOT crowdfunding campaign has finished, and we raised the funds we needed to meet our goals.

From the beginning, we needed help moving the studio to a new location. Over the new year, specifically we needed to

  • refinish the wood dance floor
  • install new mirrors
  • improve sound & lighting equipment
  • …all remaining funds going towards organizing a Fusion dance festival!

In the end, through the support of the community, we raised 7,640zł in donations! This amount will allow us to pay for all of the new studio work, and still have a good amount left over to go towards a Fusion Fest this Summer in Kraków.

If you supported us in this fundraiser, please be on the lookout for communications about your prizes. We’ll need to get t-shirt sizes from everyone. Also, now its time to start planning the studio private event bookings – let’s get together and organize!

Thank you so, so very much to everyone who contributed. When this started, I was a little apprehensive if people would show their support or not. The response has been staggering and I am humbled by it. It makes me both optimistic and excited for the future of Kraków Dance Works.

Let’s get working!

Greg Austin

The Year in Review

Hi there,

Greg Austin here. I want to take this opportunity to look back on the year 2020. It’s been quite the journey.

The first full year of KDW’s existence was quite the unusual one, to put it mildly. We always knew that the first year would be a year of discovery, a year of learning who we were as a studio. However, never could we have imagined that we would face not one, but two lockdowns… and the cancellations, reschedules, and changes that came along with adapting to the constantly evolving situation.

This all being said, as I sorted through the memories of the past 12 months, my spirits were lifted by the activities and people who brought their energy into the studio. We did some super cool stuff this past year!

So let’s take a quick look at just some of what happened in 2020 –

  • We began 2020 with new semesters of Blues, Balfolk, & Zouk dance classes. Our instructors for the semester were Greg Austin, Agnieszka Dworzańska, and Kasia Pawlik.
  • The wonderful dancers of Comhlan held several Scottish folk dances at the studio. Who knew that Scottish Tea Dances could be so much fun?
  • Balfolks continued to organize amazing dances, including an Epic… Sax… Balfolk dance in the theme of Eurovision. The Balfolks people have been some of the most supportive members of the KDW family. They deserve much appreciation for sticking with the studio throughout all of the ups and downs of 2020.
  • Warsztaty Teatralne continued to come down from Warsaw to give theater workshops. Thank you so much Piotr for bringing theatrical vibes into the studio. This provided much inspiration for studio activities later on in the year.
  • The first lockdown arrived in March. Our classes, workshops, and events were thrown into disarray.
  • In response to the lockdown, we created a video news service, Blues Action News, to keep the Blues community in Poland updated on cancellations and reschedules. In addition providing timely information, this service also helped the studio understand what it was that was important to preserve through all the craziness of the lockdowns. We learned that it was our relationships with our community members that were the most important!
  • As the summer arrived, and things opened up again, we held a flurry of events to get the dance juices flowing again following the first lockdown.
  • We hosted a long-delayed Blues dance workshop weekend – Chicago Juke Joint Party – The talented teachers Krystyna & Filip came down from Warsaw to share a workshop on Chicago style Blues dance. That evening, they joined their band, Christine & The Blue Drags for a rocking dance!

  • Building upon the work that Mark Oliver had begun with the Fusion dance scene in town, we pulled our teams together to organize a last minute, mini-fusion festival – Ice Cream Fusion. This event provided the inspiration for a 2nd, much larger Fusion Festival to be organized in Summer 2021. We really hope all will go to plan in the future.
  • Agnieszka was back at it again with a Balfolk workshop and concert featuring Remi Kesteman, all the way from Lyon, France. Remi stuck around for a bit afterwards, and made good use of his time by partnering up with Agnieszka to dance a stunning music video for Remi’s Balfolk band Fahrenheit.
  • As the past summer wound down, we also managed to sneak a 1950’s style party in at the studio. Klaudia Bałazy was an amazing hostess!
  • The surprise hit development at the studio this year was the creation of Karaoke singing nights at the studio. What started as a few friends coming together to practice singing with a microphone turned into joyful regular gathering of Karaoke fans. We’ll be getting a second microphone in 2021, so that we can continue with the good times.
  • Another new evolution at the studio was the introduction of theater evenings, in the form of Murder Mystery Dinner Parties. These were written, produced, and developed all in house, using all of the talent that floats around the studio.
  • Throughout it all, we enjoyed having Swing & Sway at the studio on Monday evenings. They are a pleasure to work with and we look forward to having them continue on Mondays in the new studio. Best Swing school in Kraków in our opinion.
  • With the second lockdown arriving, we turned our attention to getting ready for our move to the new studio space. The moment of quiet has given us the time to reflect on what has been a busy, busy year. It did lead to some great times in December.
  • A Christmas practice of old Zouk friends brought much cheer and nostalgia. Here’s hoping for many more memories in the future.
  • Looking forward to 2021, the most important change to be made will be a move to a new studio location. It will still be in the same building, and we’ll be keeping everything that makes KDW so special. To support this move, we launched an end of year fundraising campaign. It is still live, so head on over and help today! Studio REBOOT in January!!!

  • In addition to the above highlights, there have been so many more events, classes, trainings, birthdays, reunions, and morale boosters throughout the year than we can’t fit onto this Year in Review. Each one of them were special in their own unique way.

Greg Austin back here again. Wow, what a happy trip down memory lane. I know that for me personally, I have grown and developed tremendously. I wouldn’t be the person I am now without the studio. I can say this honestly, I am looking forward to 2021, even if it is just as crazy as 2020. Big hugs and cheers!

Greg

Studio Closed – March 16 – April 26

UPDATE: As of April 10, the closure of the studio has been extended to at least April 26th.

UPDATE: As of March 25, the closure of the studio has been extended to at least April 12th. The tentative re-open date is Monday, April 13th. More updates to follow.

We have been following the COVID-19 coronavirus situation very closely for several weeks now. After a lot of deliberation, we at the studio have decided to close classes and events starting next Monday, March 16th. We will remain closed until at least March 30th. We will update everyone via Facebook on when we will be reopening. We ask that you stay healthy, wash your hands, take care of your loved ones, and best of luck during this period of challenges. Again, we will be closed March 16th and will be opening March 30th, based on the situation.

Best wishes and thank you for your understanding.

A dash of Texas culture

New for January 2020, Texas Line Dance PARTY ANIMATION!

I’m absolutely thrilled to announce a new service available: professional party animation with Texas Line Dance lessons.

Born and raised in Texas, I’m happy to share a slice of my heritage with the people of Kraków. In Texas, we love getting together to dance to country music, and that includes world famous line dances. These fun, easy to learn dances are perfect for breaking the ice and getting the party going. We’ll provide the lesson, the music, and the energy… you just provide the party.

Want to see an authentic Texas line dance? Here’s a short video filmed in Luckenbach, Texas… only 20 minutes from where I grew up.

Texas Monthly: The “National” Magazine of Texas

We Texans have a reputation for being a proud bunch. We rightly think that Texas is the best state in the Union. In fact, did you know that Texas was it’s own country for a time? That’s right, after we won a war of independence from Mexico, we were a nation in our own right… we even had an embassy in London.

Nowadays, we have a magazine called Texas Monthly that carries the spirit of Texas with it. In it we discuss our culture and try to figure out what makes the Lone Star State so special. I came across an article on Blues music in this very magazine.

Naturally, we Texan’s are proud of the influence our native sons and daughters had on the Blues. You may be familiar with the Mississippi Delta and Chicago as birthplaces of the Blues, but did you know about Texas? Check it out!

 

First semester… COMPLETE!

Well, the first semester of Kraków Dance Works is in the books. It’s been a great one, full of ups and downs, new things and realizations… but mostly just a lot of fun!

When people ask me how the studio is going, the best reply I can give them takes the shape of a metaphor. If the studio is a piece of metal, then it has just been removed from the forge. Opening the doors last semester was like pulling the white hot metal out of the fire. We could see the basic shape, but the brilliance of it was too hot to really understand what its final form may take.

Last semester was watching the piece of metal cool down to a point where we can start shaping it. Today, it is a lovely shade of orange. Still hot in the inside, but at a point where we can start hammering on it, turning it into what we wish for it to become.

What does this metaphor mean in practice? This means that the key people involved with the studio are now settled in. It means that the physical space of the studio has been established. It means we all now how the parties work, and can make ourselves at home.

This also means that now is the time to get to work developing the programs and ideas of which Kraków Dance Works will be known for. The chief amongst these is the idea that the studio is just that, a studio. A place for artists to practice their art. It is not a top-down institution. It is not a school, with strict chains of command. Rather, it is a place that nurtures and supports dancers who wish to expand their artistic pursuits.

I can offer an example of one such pursuit. My own.

I see dance as a tool for better understanding the human condition. We were all born human, and it’s important take advantage of what being human offers. Some people write poetry, some people build architecture. Others engage in politics or raise families. We are all given the chance to express how our individualness connects to the rest of humanity. My artistic pursuit is to understand how dance was used in our ancestors’ communities, and how we carry on those traditions to meet the challenges of today.

In practice, this means combining the traditions I learned in Texas and America, with the priorities and needs of my Polish hosts. It means exploring European systems of expression, and fusing them with New World sensibilities. And pursuing this exploration in a way that builds upon the fellow pursuits of the other people in the studio. It’s a team effort, for sure, and it’s all happening right here, right now.

Getting back to that metal metaphor. If the piece of metal that is the studio is now ready for us to hammer on, then now’s the time to get at it, before it cools any further. Of course hammering can be a lot of work, but if you love what you do, work becomes play. The best thing about play is that is combines learning and fun.

We’re going to have a whole lotta fun next semester at Kraków Dance Works!

The Studio’s Vision

Being a Texan in Europe, I have observed some things. In Texas, you see, we have wide open spaces, and you get used to thinking big. If you can dream it, you can make it happen. I grew up with this sense of opportunity surrounding me, and I think I carried some of this over with me when I crossed the ocean.

Now that I’ve hung my hat in Europe for a bit, I think I’ve got an idea on how Europeans see opportunities. Well, of course not each and every one of them… that would 450 million people that I haven’t met yet. But enough to make generalizations. For example, share an idea with a German, and they’ll tell you the correct way to do it. Tell the same idea to a Pole, however, and they’ll tell you why it won’t work.

Whenever I share this observation with a Polish person, they always explain to me why this is so. They tell me that it’s because of historical circumstances. That this skepticism has its roots in the story of the Polish nation, and the centuries when it was ruled by some foreign power. This skepticism was a useful way of protecting yourself from making dangerous mistakes in the rough neighborhood that is the North European Plain.

Now look, I get this. I see where they’re coming from. In fact, it is one of the reason’s I love living in Poland so much. The people in my life are grounded in reality, with clear eyes and full hearts.

This all being said, the Poland of today is in control of it’s own destiny like it hasn’t been in a long time. The young people I’ve met are hungry to get out and make their marks on the world. If there has ever been a time in Poland’s history where things work, now would be the time. I feel blessed that they’re letting this Texan tag along for the ride.

So what do I see when I look at the opportunities at my studio? I see a studio where people who want to create interesting things in the dance world can find a home. A place where if you have an idea, you will find support from a community of dancers, teachers, organizers, and like minded entrepreneurs. I know that I am not the expert in everything. I know that I cannot offer the solution to every problem. But I also know for sure that I can create an environment that is open, fair, and honest.

In practice, this means that the studio will operate closer to a cooperative venture, rather than a top-down, traditional model. Of course, I’ll take ultimate responsibility for keeping the lights on and maintaining order, but if your idea supports the studio’s vision, you’ll find much freedom for pursuing it.

We might fail. We might succeed. But I firmly believe that this studio is an experiment worth doing. My personal judgement for success will be measured in how many dancers pass through the studio on their way to great things in their lives. I want to hear them tell other people that, “Yes, Kraków dance works!”

With much cheer,

Greg Austin