June 24 - July 2, 2004
Palace of Culture (Plac Defilad 1, Warszawa, Poland)
2 performances at New New Yorkers Festival in Warsaw
U.S. Embassy, Warsaw
Thoroughly research the safety and security of “different” modes of transportation. Trains and motor vehicles can have special dangers associated with them in certain countries. We should have borne the expense of an extra night’s hotel room in either Budapest or Warsaw and of the airfare between the two cities. Instead we opted to save money both ways by taking the night train. The detailed description below reveals what a bad decision that was. And to make matters more infuriating, many people told us afterwards, “EVERYONE knows that people get gassed on night trains in this region; especially targeted are “rich Americans” who book sleeping compartments” … Too bad no one told us that “common knowledge” beforehand.
No remote research into the technical specifications, staff and operations of a theater can truly prepare one for the real thing. If there is a possibility to do a site visit a month or two before the performance, a lot of agony can be avoided (unfortunately in this case we were unable to do so and suffered the consequences).
Local partners, consultants and friends can do wonders to improve the chances for a good performance. In the case of Poland, we have many friends to thank and never would have reached so much success without their selfless support.
Battery Dance Company returned to Poland in June, 2004, with a team of 8 people: 6 dancers, artistic director and technical director. The Tour constituted Battery’s 6th visit to Poland since 1996. The raison d’être behind Battery’s 2004 tour was two-fold: to participate in the New New Yorkers Festival in Warsaw and the Malta Festival in Poznan; and to present “Secrets of the Paving Stones” and “Between Heaven & Earth”, two works that had been created over the previous months to music by the Craców Klezmer Band, for Polish audiences.
When we arrived in Warsaw, we loaded into the Studio Theater, that occupies a quadrant of the massive Soviet-era Palace of Culture. On previous tours of Poland, I had looked at this pile that dominates central Warsaw from the safe distance of the Maly Theater, a lovely and intimate haven of drama and dance across the street. This time we are the featured performance on the inaugural evening of the New New Yorkers Festival presented by the U.S. Embassy, and have a second evening as well.
We were pictured in Polish Newsweek, adjacent to an article on Daniel Libeskind, who was also a part of the Festival! In the end, full houses and repeated curtain calls feel awfully good!
Our dancers restored themselves on two mornings with a ballet class given by Warsaw’s prima ballerina and international ballet competition judge Ewa Głowacka, who came to our performance on the second night with her husband, a conductor. They rushed backstage afterwards and hugged and kissed all of us and thanked us for our performance. What an honor!!
Mention must be made at this point of Pawel Pniewski, who currently serves as technical director for one of Warsaw’s most prominent theaters. Pawel had accompanied us on our previous Polish tours, in 2000 and 2002, serving as co-technical director, interpreter and guide. Busily engaged with his own projects this summer, he nevertheless found time to find lighting equipment to equip our theaters as well as intervening with intractable directors, and finding Ewa to teach us!
Likewise, Multi-Communications President Malgorzata Bekier and her daughter Judyta welcomed us in Warsaw, helped interpret in the theater, and soothed our ruffled feathers afterwards. The person-to-person aspect of their friendship, loyalty and generosity helped us regain our balance.