Post From Poland: Pole Dance #2

By Ellen Keane (Partner-in-Jazz-Crimes to 2011 Choreographer Cathy Keane Wind)

(A little background info: Cathy Keane Wind and Ellen Keane, Artistic Directors of Keane Sense of Rhythm, were recently brought to Poland as Guest Teachers and Performers. This and the last blog shared with us some of their experiences :))

I find myself sitting in a car, traveling to Polonica from Ladek Zdroj, sampling Latino music with Alba and Cathy. This is todays rhythm, we all speak English, we are driving rather than walking and we are bouncing to the beat, it is impossible to sit still. The landscape is filled with small farms and mountains. We follow the river. We are sharing our passion for rhythm, salsa, clave, regional differences, but all the same language stemming from our African roots.

Most days walking is the mode of transportation, our hotel is at the top of the hill with the steepest grade, we walk as fast as the person most out of breath, sometimes it is me. It is a 20-minute walk from the hotel to the classrooms if you hurry but we do not. We take the lead of the residents here, it is a place to stroll, women arm in arm, grandpa buttons his child’s coat, and cobblestone feels good on the feet.

Every day has it’s own tempo and meter, as does every time of day. Mealtime is always a ballad, the voices of new colleagues accompanied by coffee, always reticent to end. This is a far cry from my routine at home where my dinning table is often behind the wheel, alone.

Class time is our time, we vibrate with excitement of all that is new, the students are nervous, we need to find common ground between our language barriers, and new expressions are agreed upon. Each day we bring our students closer to our passion and the pace of learning increases every day.

Every evening we gather in the square for professional performance, Cathy and I performed a 20-minute set on the 4th of July. Instructors and students alike form small groups and chatter excitedly, we are in our element and the evening has promise. Tonight will be no different. Still there are so many more moments of quiet, sometimes waiting, sometimes just still. I have no phone, I cannot be taken from here, I must stay in the present, dobrze (good).

We are now at the end of the week, time for last class, my students went from confident to nervous again. The speed of the music is too fast and we can’t remember the sequence they complain. I reassure that with a few small changes we will be fine. By the end of class we are confident again.

Tomorrow we have a parade and performance in the evening. The routine of the rhythm just settled into, the conversations just begun, will be broken. Funny that the end feels like the beginning, friendships and colleagues taking risks this week – carrying this experience into our future, feeling confident.

Ellen Keane

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