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!