Prague Reflections--part 1

June 24, 2012--On my way to Prague to perform and teach. It’s the kind of sticky DC weather that soaks your armpits just crossing the street. We spent the day packing, baking cookies, and trying to keep Maya sufficiently entertained to avoid shouting matches. When we get tense, she gets tense. I’d like to say that we coolly lofted our things into the bags with the deep contentment that comes from a life well lived. Of course, there was, rather, a good deal more shoving things down, bumping into each other, and smacking foreheads with things remembered and left undone.

Czech announcement of

June 25, 2012--At the tail end of our redeye flight to London. We were delayed at takeoff, but it was otherwise relatively smooth, with yummy palak paneer Asian veggie meals, and a red wind spill that will leave my shorts permanently tie-dyed. I have had panic attacks for the last two nights. I wake up certain that I’ve led this group of 10 people down some kind of disastrous path: what if no one comes to the show? What if no one signs up for the workshops? What if the costumes get lost by the airline? Lions and tigers and bears—oh my! I don’t remember being this anxious about Nova Scotia. I do remember, however, the night before the event, an event that I would find singularly successful, sitting with Jen and worrying that I had no business directing this performance and workshop in a strange country, and that I should have stayed home and watched TV. I guess it’s the same fears in a different package.

With 4.5 hours of sleep, I watch the little plane on the tiny screen gradually cross the rugged green blobs of Ireland and England. It’s about all I have the attention span to concentrate on at the moment.

 

June 28, 2012--Spent the first few days settling in and walking around. Everyone has now arrived and we have had a few meals together to bond. Nevertheless, our trips are different trips. Jen, Maya, and I spend most of our time together. I see less of Alex now that Wayne is here. Amanda spends a lot of time alone or with Chris, as clingy as any newlyweds. Heather has chosen to save money by not using the subway. I see her at destinations, when there is usually less time to talk. Mary is not sleeping well; she has been a bit of a zombie. Rebecca spent the day with Jen and Maya yesterday; I saw her only when I was a zombie myself. Yet we are together, looking out for one another, listening, waiting, sharing food.

I have spent time with Rena, who organized this event, and who I grow to like more and more. She has my same struggle: freelance teacher, stretching 50 cents into a dollar. Her studio is beautiful! Yet, there are not enough students. She is also watching her 15-year-old daughter grow more independent, fading into the background as parents must who will not chain their children in the basement. I look at Maya with a cold chill running down my back. Yet, Rena teaches, dances, travels…lives a full life, energized and curious.

Mary Szegda, Maya Shute, Alex Short, and Malcolm Shute in Prague Castle

Prague is fond of pastels: pink, yellow, peach, rose. The buildings do not tower, nor glower. The streets are wide and welcoming, or narrow and teeming with people. The weather has been partly sunny: warm and breezy, as heaven will be for those who reach it. The people are brisk, smiling, informal. I feel comfortable, as if I have moved into an old house and find its creaky boards musical—it feels lived-in; I, at home.

Nevertheless, we perform tonight and I have worms twisting in my chest.

 

June 29, 2012--Ultimately, the show went well. There were plenty of people to make the Druna studio feel full, sitting on yoga mats on the floor. They were warm and attentive. We were a bit rough in execution: partly nervous, partly excited. I was in pain, having wrenched my back during rehearsal that afternoon. I got all the way through, however. I find that, if I am in pain or exhausted, I tend to perform with more, rather than less, energy. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I say to myself, if I can just get to Alex, he will take care of me. Thus, I fling myself upon him with more than usual abandon—poor guy!

I was not sure I would manage to dance during the contact improvisation jam after the show. The group was big and welcoming, though. I had a long, luxurious duet with Rena. Those from my group were all tired, so we trudged home at 9:30pm.

I’m sitting in the apartment resting my back while Maya naps. It is warm, even with the balcony door open, but the breeze stirs the drapes lazily. I have not decided whether the sun is brighter here than in DC, or if it just feels that way. It comes in through our window like a spotlight in the morning. Yet, it is dry weather, which takes the edge off of the heat, and it cools off at night (a pleasure we won’t enjoy in DC until September). My back doesn’t hurt unless I move, so I try not to move. I’m content.

Tomorrow the workshops begin.

Comments

Prague

What I love about Prague (besides Rena, whom I adore), is that it is beautiful and soaring but on a human scale. Everything about it celebrates human encounters. The churches are everywhere and at streetscape level, and they are open all the time, AND there is often music playing at all hours of the day. The cafes are right there too, so you can pray, hold secret meetings to plan the communist overthrow, and then grab a cappacino and some goulash, without leaving your block.

Give Rena and Hearn and big hug from me, and walk the Charles bridge too!

Love from gorgeous Nova Scotia! Karen

Karen

Will do, Karen! Glad you're safe and cool in NS.

Was that you who commented about the revolution?

Mac

No to plotting the communist

No to plotting the communist revolution! They did that already.

communist revolution

Okay, we won't. We are staying in former communist housing: nice airy apartment. (Not sure if it was this nice back then.)

Prague

What I love about Prague (besides Rena, whom I adore), is that it is beautiful and soaring but on a human scale. Everything about it celebrates human encounters. The churches are everywhere and at streetscape level, and they are open all the time, AND there is often music playing at all hours of the day. The cafes are right there too, so you can pray, hold secret meetings to plan the communist overthrow, and then grab a cappacino and some goulash, without leaving your block.

Give Rena and Hearn and big hug from me, and walk the Charles bridge too!

Love from gorgeous Nova Scotia! Karen