Boarding the plane, i was asking myself: am I really flying to Poland right now? Right now I am in the Southernmost part of Africa, and in several hours I will be touching down in Krakow, Poland. It felt unbelieveable, and somehow also just the 'next step' on this journey that is in one sense so planned out and in another so unpredictable and spontaneous. And like so many other moments over the past several months, I found myself saying over and over in my head 'I can't believe I am doing this, I can't believe I'm doing this.....'
I have now been in Poland for five days. We are at the Silesia Dance Festival in a small town called Bytom, here to perform our work 'Quartet for the End of Time,' the work that we have been rehearsing on and off for several months now. Today, Monday, is the day of our show. I woke up this morning, went downstairs to have breakfast, coffee, then came back upstairs and went back to bed for an hour. Woke up again, showered and shaved. Yesterday as I was leaning over to smell my dinner, I accidently touched my chin to the hot casserole dish that the food was served in and burned my chin. It blistered up, which made shaving a bit tricky. I had to sort of shave around it, and then carefully pluck the hairs from inside the burn to complete the job.........maybe that was too much information.
But now, I am ready for the show. I think I'll go for a run today and then read a book; I am never know what to do during a day when I have a game or a performance--I am always so eager to get on with it that I never want to do anything else......
When I arrived at the airport in Krakow, my bags did not come out on the baggage belt. I reported them missing, and learned that they were still in Johannesburg and had never been loaded onto the flight. I would get them only two days later, thus had to wear the same pair of cords, grey t-shirt, and flip flops for the first few days here. Passing through customs I entered the arrivals area where there was supposed to be a taxi driver waiting, holding up a sign with my name on it. There was no such taxi driver. I began considering my options: it as 11:30 PM, I am at an airport in Poland, I have no cell phone and just a little bit of polish money. I call both telephones that were given to me by the festival, and no one picks up on either one.
I made friends with a man standing outside the terminal; he was gracious enough to let me use his cell phone to make some calls. As we got to talking I learned that his brother's son plays baseball, and that their Polish Little League team won the European Championship last summer.
It was at this point that I noticed a man holding a sign that said 'Silesia Dance/Theater'--I had noticed the man wehn i first exited through customs, but at the time he was holding up no sign. It turns out that this was my ride.
We are staying in the hotel Katowice, a hotel with a distinctly Soviet flair with tall columns and vaulted ceilings in the lobby and dining areas, Small beds, tacky wallpaper and furnishings, brown '60s-style rug. A small TV.
The architecture here reminds me a lot of Lithuania, but even more of Russia. All of the apartment buildings are identical, and all of the other buildings are totally diverse and don't match each other. The language sounds a lot like Russian, though often I can understand simple things people say because some words sound similar to lithuanian. I have yet to meet any Lithuanians or hear it spoken in the street, even though we are only about 450 miles from the Lithuanian border.
Day one at the festival:
In the morning we took a 30-minute bus from our hotel to the neighboring town of Bytom, which is where the festival is being held. The rehearsal space given to us was a small gymnasium in the basement of a mechanics’ school that is near to the cultural center which is the base for the festival.
Four portly polish women and one little girl soon arrived with brooms and mops to clean the floor.
We rehearsed here for the first two days. Our lighting designer, stage manager, and set designers have joined our team for the first time; this is the first part of this process that they have come to, so they are seeing our dance performance for the first time.
In the main building of the festival there is a place called ‘Jazz Club Fantom’ where we eat lunch and dinner every day. We get meal tickets from the festival, being a performing company. The meals have been varied: scambled eggs with ham, pizza, potato dumplings with pork (actually they were Cepeliniai!! But not as good and there was no greitinele), fried chicken fillet with veggies, fish…..pretty good food. But the portions are never enough for me and I am always having to order more when my meal is done.
I love the Jazz Club Fantom. From the outside you would never know it was what it is—inside it is dimly lit, with funky music and mood lighting, a fake zebra in a cage, and a huge Saxaphone with Airplane wings hanging from the ceiling. At night they move out the tables and it becomes a dance club. We have yet to partake in the evening dance parties here, but tonight just might be the night.
My first day here we went to a performance in the evening, a company from the US led by a German choreographer. The performance was at the ‘Power Plant,’ one of the three performing venues here, and where we will be presenting our dance on Monday evening. It is called the power plant because it IS a power plant—it still produces power for the city, and just happens to have a HUGE banquet hall in the center that is actually way too big to be a theater. In a way the hall reminds me of Grand Central Station, with its high arching ceiling and tall ornate windows and balconies. I am excited to see what we can do with it; It is really industrial and dirty, as you would expect a power plant to be, and there are in fact holes in the roof. It began to rain and lightning during the performance we went to see, and it was actually dripping heavily onto the stage! I heard that the following night a light fell from the ceiling onto the stage and shattered, leaving glass shards everywhere.
Let's hope everything goes well tonight!!! 😊
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