Post From Poland: A New Kind of ‘Pole’ Dancing!

By Cathy Keane Wind (2011 Choreographer)

Awakened by my mouth pasted shut, darkness, and in the distance the sound of birds and waves, I wonder where I am?  I am lying back in a chair and as I open my eyes it is not the beach I see but the top of a salt cave. I am back in Poland in a beautiful Mountain town doing what I love best and what my new friend Alba says everyone should do. Enjoy life and dance!

Alba is from Cuba but moved to Poland 27 yrs. ago. She is the “First Lady” from Cuba to live in Wroclaw. She is here to teach salsa, samba, and some polish culture to a gal from Minnesota. We are joined by dancers from around the world and we have converged on a small town known for healing therapies to share this love of the dance with the community.

The first day of class always starts with a nervous greeting in English and Polish as we all navigate this new classroom. This year they can all speak polish and it is I using pantomime until they shake their head yes, yes, yes, (possibly to get me to stop). I am here to teach body percussion. I prepare as best I can with sections and ideas but must wait to see what the students bring in terms of energy, trust, and ability before “this” picture of my dance emerges.

Day 1, I must gain their confidence without overwhelming and get some choreography sections introduced.
Day 2, I get a little anxious since my progression involves trusting the students, the creative process, and myself with trust being the operative word. What if I don’t have enough material? What if I fail? (Little things like that).
Day 3, “It” appears as it always does. Something has been created, the students bought in, it is like finding all the cars of the train. The next step is easy, link the cars together and throw on a caboose. For my class it was focusing on what are downbeat, upbeat, offbeat and exercises to challenge their rhythmic abilities.
Day 4, a couple of shows and parties later and we are all family. I begin to own my 10 Polish words unapologetically.
Day 5, in small groups we all start to concoct, connive, and conspire what could happen in the future here in Poland. This salon of dance must continue and we all are invested in its success.

It is so special here, we know it, we know others will find it, and before we know it…OMG it’s the next Avatar! Ok, ok, ok, scale down Cathy. Next we have jeep tour to the Czech border followed by the final evening party. Hugs and tears from the incredible youth, who taught me as much as I hope to have taught them, we are all forever changed by this experience. We pass out business cards, we promise to text, email and of course…Facebook.

Details that help color this trip include: delays, missed flights, lost luggage, lost ring, jammed toe, locked out of hotel at midnight, and more. They are just bits of this incredible journey and we own them, but the real story is that I hoped to bring passion, integrity and joy to the people connected with this festival. The true gift is that I take home with me much more than that. Like this spa town brags, I am coming home rejuvenated, replenished, and invigorated.

As my new young friend Everina from Warsaw says, “you must dance viss everything, viss your elbows and fingertips and toes, and especially viss your heart, or else do not do dis at all!”

Cathy Keane Wind

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