Weaving the Fabric of Cultural Exchanges

Cultural exchange is at the forefront of diplomatic relations between countries.  It can blur national boundaries, allowing The Place at London Contemporary Dance School for six dancers, internationally diverse from Belgium, Israel, Hungary, Cyprus and Italy to go under the umbrella of Austro-British exchange.  Arriving late into Knightsbridge, two dancers and I carrying baggage to last for a three week tour to Spain and Germany, unlocked the 1830`s manor town house in Rutland Gate and walked into our home for the next few nights.  The building was dark and empty, but lighter than the usual Victorian bleakness, with a cream Italian design on a narrow but grand staircase.  Oil painting portraits of Edmund Josef von Horv├íth, stared down at us as we crept up the floors in darkness.  Through my hazy tiredness, I fumbled for the key and jammed it into the lock.  It wouldn`t open.  I tried all the other keys and nothing budged.  The dancers equally exhausted began to react to my hasty mumbling under my breath "Why won`t it open"? they could hear.  One heaped herself on her bag on the floor, sensing my need to feel calm, the other offered to help.  As she took the keys and attempted with strength, I noticed that the door already had a coat hung on the inside, and thought that no empty bedroom ready for guests would have this--that was my clue; I looked up and saw another narrow staircase, leading to the servants quarters on the top floor of this manor house.  I rushed up and saw two guest bedrooms open and awaiting our occupancy.  Laughing and relieved at my tired mistake, I apologised to girls and relaxed into our quarters.  I imagined that during the war, it was a place for emigrants escaping Nazi persecution.  Not knowing if this was actually the case, I thought about Freud and his mixed feelings of relief and trepidation at arriving in overcast and windy London; how he might have felt on his first night looking out, as I was across Knightsbridge`s narrow rooftops to a city that seems to breathe smoke even in its slumber.  
       Coming together as artists representing artists is, essential, as it requires an understanding of needs, that all to often get overlooked in a more quantifiable focused environment.  Finding myself in the position of mediator, collecting the confused contradictions of the dancers, I aim to steadfastly support their understanding by revealing these opposing elements as limiting situations that can be overcome, rather than being victims of their circumstances.  Luckily, I wasn´t the only one with this in mind.  Having the support of a team at The Place dance school that included a young educator with a heart stronger than I had known for a while, keen to cut through unnecessary drama, to follow a middle path with clarity and grace. Other leaders at The Place, rose above decisions based on preferences only and saw the larger picture--we gathered together seeing a fusion of styles between modern, classically trained ballet and contemporary and saw a need to explore these in greater depth through collaborative exchanges as oppose to just performing in each other`s spaces. 

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