Photo by Liviya England. Illustration by Kaitlyn Clevenger.

Prague felt isolating. At the same time, I felt fairly accepted by the locals — so much so that I fell into a routine of going to one particular market before morning classes. I would get protein bars, bananas and bottles of water and it didn’t feel like there was a stigma forced upon me as not only an American, but an Afro-Latina who was usually the darkest one in the dance classes I attended and streets I ventured down.

I wasn’t initially given much information before embarking on a three-week study away experience in the Czech Republic. The only concrete knowledge about the journey I had was that I was one of three of my Tisch Dance classmates selected to be in this ballet-oriented program. I also knew that Renata was the name of the woman who would be coordinating our stay in Prague as well as teaching us pilates, and that we would be taking classes at both the HAMU academy and the National Theatre with the contemporary company there. School aside, it was amazing to be in a city so historically rich, with a never-ending supply of things to witness and experience. I was fortunate enough to see a special exhibit on German choreographer Pina Bausch, to enjoy a Czech Folk performance after learning the same movements in class that very day, to take a private Laban Movement Analysis lesson after having discovered Labanotation in Dance History the past semester and to watch the members of the contemporary company — with whom we were taking ballet — perform.

The city was beautiful. Every street seemed to offer something new while reminding me of something in the U.S. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until the third and final week that I felt as if I were coming into my own within the city and fully getting comfortable and better acclimated: street names such as Národní třída, Náměstí Míru, Můstek and Muzeum becoming as familiar as the avenues and Lower East Side streets that have become my home away from home.

***

Advertisement

May 28, 2019 7:30 p.m.  

Studying abroad

So much is foreign

I was accepted

Cultural shock? None really.

At the same time, who would be comfortable with prolonged staring?

Not everyone has to endure it.

It gave me strength and pride

I was even mistaken as a native Czech inhabitant, more than once!

Confidence is what I connect it to

It was an ease of my mind

What good does stress do us?

What good does complaining do?

Make the most of every experience

The negative casts shadows on the positive, warping it into something unknown and thus —— unwanted

three weeks of my life

Altered

Impacted

Enhanced

Knowledge and experience are tools

To create and build upon

To learn from and possibly not repeat

Or…

Insight development and improvement

Possibly even of self

Artificial air and bumpy floating

Crazy to think how much wasn’t available until “recently”

Modernity

Modern

Mode of unity

Of transportation

Adaptation

A connection to the once unobtainable 

***

Here was an example of making the most of every experience: it was an initial shock to discover that us three females were living with six male strangers. If my dad and godparents had known that this was the arrangement, they would not have let me live there — their support of my endeavours abroad was conditional on my abiding by their rules for safety. But my opinion as an adult took priority. I was a college student in a foreign place, so I couldn’t help being a little apprehensive, but after a few days of getting acclimated, and interacting with each of our roommates, I knew there was nothing to worry about. Two of the guys — who were from Kyrgyzstan and had been living in Prague for five years — even ended up being unofficial tour guides, pointing out some of the best cheap restaurants. 

Prague heightened my level of artistry and fortified my technical foundation. The teachers always gave insight into minute corrections and ways of working from the internal self. There were no expectations but the ones that I created for myself. Every class allowed me to take away what I wanted from it: getting my leg higher, pushing for one more turn, jumping an inch higher.

Email Taina at [email protected]

Advertisement

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here