Sunday, 3 January 2016

Lampedusa

Nowadays, when Europer faces migratios crisis, I couldn't expected better Christmas gift than a book "Wielki przypływ" by Jarosław Mikołajewski. The book I strongly reccomend as clever and thought-provoking text.

Mikołajewski is a poet and translator who visited few times italian island Lampedusa- the first stop of immigrants who come to Europe from Northern Africa. His reportage is an important voice in the discussion about migration and offers rather unusual point of view.

Mikołajewski writes not about immigrants but about lifes and attitudes of citizens of Lampedusa. Thanks to him we can observe how people who faces hundreds of newcomers and their tragedies (ship wrecks, rapes, loss of family) every day react to it and live in new reality. Their stories are sometimes bitter, sometimes moving, but always full of respect for the humanity of immigrants and willingness to help them.

The author's artistic sensibility allows him to go deeper and see more than majority of journalists do. Mikołajewski makes his reader think and feel the situation of the residents of Lampedusa as well as of immigrants. No one will  be indifferent after "Wielki przypływ".

I reccomend you this book because of its unique value and wisdom. It doesn't talk about politics nor economy, it doesn't scream nor threaten, it simply tells the stories of people who knows more about newcomers than us.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Wacław Niżyński- forgotten genius

In Poland we have some troubles with being proud of and promote geniuses of our nation. There're two manifestations of it: we don't talk enough about them (abroad as well as at schools) or we don't know that many important people of the past had polish roots. Poles like Maria Skłodowska-Curie, Fryderyk Chopin, Wisława Szymborska or Jan Paweł II are world-wide known but even the Poles forget that a man who revolutionised the ballet and is considered a founder of modern dance- the  famous "God of dance" Vaslav Nijinsky (Wacław Niżyński)- was of polish descent.

Niżyński (1889- 1950) was a legend of his time. Till today he's considered the best dancer in the history, despite the fact that nowadays we can't see any video of him. Lack of technical equipment at the beginning of the century? No, Sergei Diaghilev, Niżyński's impresario, forbade recording him to guarantee his ward "eternal glory and fame". Wacław's dancing was enrapturing everyone who saw him on stage. He also introduced many technique innovations and changed the style of costumes. His visionary gift exploded when he became the choreographer of a new ballet in 1913. The collaboration between Niżyński, Igor Stravinsky (composer), Diaghilev (producer) and Nicholas Roerich (stage design) gave life to the ground-breaking masterpiece "The rite of spring" which totally changed music and dance. We could talk a lot about influences which "The rite of spring" has on culture till today, but the most interesting fact for us is Niżyński's choreography. You surely know how "classical ballet" is danced, a lot of you have heard about "The Swan Lake" or "The Nutcracker". Niżyński broke all the rules of classical dance to show the ancient world of Russia with cruel rite of sacrificing a chosen virgin to welcome the coming spring. Just watch the final dance of the chosen one (as well us listen to the music, which in 1913 was as controvertial as the choreography) and compare it with your imaginations of the classical dance!

During the first performance the audience divided into two camps (enthusiasts and their opposites) and they were whistling, applauding, quarelling and even scuffling so loudly that the dancers didn't hear the music! After a couple of years Niżyński's work was appreciated and his importance for ballet is renowned.

Unfortunately his career was short because of schizophrenia he struggled with for almost 30 years. This fight was reminded by Teatr Polski in Warsaw in a spectacle I'm going to write about in next post. Also, if you're interested in, I'll write more about "The rite of spring", mostly about Stravinsky's music, because there aren't many pieces of art which caused so many fervent discussions and scandals.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Theatre venues

The capital city of Poland offers a lot of cultural places such as theaters, opera houses, concert halls, etc. I could say even too much! If you wanted to visit them all and go to every interesting spectacle you'd have to sacrifice your whole time. The riches of culture in Warsaw is impressive and I'm trying to taste it a litte. I've already seen three spectacles (you could say it's not many. But remember that tickets sell out in few hours or days and 2 or 3 months in advance!) and I'd like to share some impressions with you.

I'm not very frequent guest in dramatic theatres. Not because I don't like it, but usually when I have a choice "ticket to the opera house" vs "ticket to a dramatic theatre", I choose the first option. Here I went to Teatr Dramatyczny m. Warszawy for a spectacle "Bent" by Martin Shermann. I didn't know it before so it was a great surprise for me. The play about nazis persecution in the thirties and it was very touching. Very simple staging and wonderful acting gave it an additional value. What is more, it was performed in a very small hall, so the audience could see every single gesture or glance. There is also a movie based on this play with the stars such as Ian McKellen or Mick Jagger. It also worths watching.

Two other play I saw, were operas (what a surprise!): "The haunted Manor" ("Straszny dwór") by Stanisław Moniuszko and "7 deadly sins" by Kurt Weill and Bertold Brecht. They were two very different experiences. The first one is the best know polish opera called our "national opera". This is a long story about two brothers who decided not to get married but at the end... and the whole story is inscribed into Sarmatian tradition. New staging by Teatr Wielki Opera Narodowa offers a completely different look a the work. The action takes place after World War I and there's no Sarmatian elements on stage. It's very refreshing and the whole audience enjoyed it. I have to mention also beautiful white-red costumes in the last act where there're traditional polish dances. I think it was even more "polish" that the whole opera staged in the traditional way.

"7 deadly sins" is a different story. Is very short (it lasts about 35 minutes) opera-ballet about a young women who travels through the United States and tries to earn money for a new house in Louisiana. In the meantime she meets cruel loves, is raped, works as a cabaret dancer or a prostitute... Shocking plot was underlined by a group of dancers who accompanied the singers. Modern dance was very emphatic and sometimes it was very hard to watch the story danced in very literal way. It was very unusual experience for me as I'm not used to modern dance and it's difficult now for me to say if I enjoyed it or not.

In next few weeks I'm going to see other spectacles. The most expected is "Berek" with Paweł Małaszyński and Ewa Kasprzyk. I'll let you know how it was!

Friday, 6 November 2015

First days in a new (old) city

As you know I moved to Warsaw for few months for student exchange. It is completely new experience because I changed my city and the university for longer period for the first time (I'm from Poznań and I have never been on Erasmus). But on the other hand I feel more "like at home" because I've been to Warsaw three or four times earlier.

The biggest adventage of knowing the capital city of Poland is that I know the topography. If I had to live in a completely unknown city, it would be more difficult to settle in. So the great problem of living in new places was solved. I knew where to go and where the most important places are. One stage of adaptation was easier but the others (you know that nature likes equilibrium): they were close to disaster!

After one month I had to change flat. Why? Because it was going to be sold, other roommates moved out and I was alone in empty flat with no interner, television nor people to talk to. I felt like in a monastery! You can imagine how difficult it was to look for a new room in October when there are 10 or 15 people interested in renting a single room. But finally, after two weeks of searches I'm living now in a new flat which satisfy all my needs.

First successes and problems are now beyond me. So what now? Going to theatres, studying, meeting new people, work... next post will be about one of these subjects, more interesting (I guess) because Warsaw is very appealing and unusual city. We're in touch!

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Welcome back!

It's a pleasure to say 'hello' to you after the holidays break. This blog will be alive again. And this time it will be dedicated to a subject which is very important for me and is connected with my life in 100% (I know that last year I was writing mostly about other things than I had promised but please trust me again! ;) )

Thanks to MOST progamme (a kind of deal among polish univerisities similar to Erasmus+) I'm going to spend (or, to be precise, I'm already spending) this winter term in Warsaw studying at Warsaw University. This refreshing experience after 4 years at Adam Mickiewicz University seems to be very good time full of new knowledge and experiences. Here, on this blog, I'm going to share with you some of them and show you how it is to study at different university in Poland as well as how it is to live in our capital city which offers much more than Poznań (don't get offended, my beloved home town!). So you can expect reviews, memories, curiosities and a lot of observations I make every day. This is the first one: If you are thinking about going to famous pancake restaurant Manekin, be prepared to stay long time in a queue and later do not take pancakes with Nutella because they can kill you! ;)

So stay tuned and wait for some Warsaw news!

Sunday, 31 May 2015

The charm of old movies

One of our academic courses is dedicated to the history of Italian cinema. At the beginning of the term I wasn't very fascinated (I'm not very keen on movies specially these old ones) but at the end of the academic year I'm changing my mind. Discovering Italian cinema revealed very interesting and I'd like to share with you some pieces of information and impressions.

First of all, the cinema is vivid chronicle of the XX century. Since silent cinema we can find many movies which shows the times in which they were directed. For instance, in Italian cinema there is a genre called "cinema di telefoni bianchi" (cinema of white telephones). This art movement includes films which rappresent the reality of the 30' and 40' in Italy. And obviously we can't forget about neorealism, sophisticated genre of movies which tell severe conditions of living in post-war Italy.

During this course we watched a lot of films and I really enjoyed some of them. First of them is "Riso amaro" ("Bitter rice") by Giuseppe de Santis. It tells the story of two thieves- Francesca and Walter. She hides among women who work on rice plantation in the northern Italy while Walter is planning new crime. The great value of "Riso amaro" is plot which brings us closer to difficulties if life 60-70 years ago. What is more, the movie is an impressive duel between two actresses: Doris Dowling (Francesca) and Silvana Magnano (Silvana). It's unforgettable pleasure to watch these two powerful artists in one movie.

Other movie I really liked is "Senso" by Luchino Visconti. It seems an ordynary love story, but the plot is more complicated. The film is set in the XIX century during a war against Austria during which Italy was fighting for it's independence. I don't want to tell you too much, I only invite you to watch this masterpiece. You can find there an interesting story with unexpected ending, historical references, beautiful acting and impressive detailed settings.

If you like cinema and have a little bit of time you should explore Italian movies. It really worths!


Sunday, 24 May 2015

Days of Italian culture- backstage broadcast

Last week was one of the bussiest I can remember. At our faculty there were organised Days of Italian culture. As a member of students scientific association of Italian philology I was one of the organisers so I'd like to share some experience with you.

Maybe I should have invited you on this blog to partecipate in Days of Italian culture, but I hope you had seen some posters or Facebook events and some of you have partecipated in it. Did you like it? What are your impressions? Let me know in the comment below.

From my point of view Days of Italian Culture were very enjoyable and busy time. As my collegues form the scientific association I had to work on the programme, prepare my own lecture, take care of our guests as well as take part in all the events. I can hardly believe that we managed to do it all in 10-12 people! My collegues were amazing and without their perseverance and diligence our event was enjoyed by students and lecturers (at least I hope so ;) ). Fortunately many other students were voluntarily helping us and I want to say THANK YOU to all of you! A part of the Days of Italian culture I was responsible for was dedicated to opera. I hope that after my lecture and the meeting with our guest, opera singer Barbara Kubiak, the world of opera is less unknown and you feel encouraged to discover it.

If you are curious about detailed reportage and some photos from the Days of italian culture, I invite you to check our Facebook profile and main event on Facebook. Not only will you find there more information but you can also like and follow us on FB to get informed abou our next events. See you there!