La Valse Viennoise

So Monday  my dance lesson was in Viennese Waltz!! It is rare to have an entire class dedicated to this dance as it is often the forgotten dance.  After all there aren’t many steps and the technique is rather repetitive… nonetheless I’ve had very few Viennese Waltz lessons in my life so I was super excited.  As a side note, this is a dance that spins around repetitively and there is a huge endurance factor since you’re holding the same position for a long period of time.

Here’s a video of me dancing Viennese Waltz at a competition in April!! Kudos if you can find me in the video…. super kudos if you spot all 5 Cornell couples :)

I took lots of notes of everything I could remember on my métro ride home from my lesson this week:

Drills

  • We did a drill of moving our knees forward (therefore bending them, but not sitting down)
  • Then we would move our knees in forward circles
  • Then with feet shoulder-width apart we would do what looked like diagonal golf swings, but we’d work on moving knees/transferring weight to the forward diagonals.
  • Always keep hips under you (forward)
  • We did a different drill where you stook straight in front of your partner in a hug position (hands on shoulder blades) and had to dance…. it’s super important here to keep the right side (ladies)  up… when you’re not in frame it’s super easy to drop

Turn to the Right

  • the first step is the driving step
  • step forward and harness the energy for a turning movement instead of a rising movement
  • foot placement of right foot is directly forward, but it then turns with turning momentum of second step
  • left side forward
  • the standing leg as Tal Livshitz calls it… here they call it le pied appui  (pushing foot) which is the idea of rolling through the standing leg and really pushing off the ball of that foot
  • Full half turn for the first part and second part of turn… no cheating!!

Turn to the Left

  • you start turning on the first step, so the first step with left foot can be turned already
  • no rise
  • don’t roll ankle on the cross step; when you do the movement stop and look at your foot… i was shocked to see I was rolling my ankles instead of keeping weight on the ball of my foot
  • don’t drop left side in the cross!! In fact the prof said to think of stretching left side on the cross because everyone always unconsciously drops it.
  • For the uncross step (2) make it small because the guy has to travel around you; conversely for the step (5) where you’re going around the guy, take a bigger step
  • On the uncross step (2) don’t put the heel down, then for the closing (3) you use the adductors to pull the legs together /finish turn and put the feet down together
  • Always keep right side forward… I try to physically push the man’s hand back with my right arm… which is super difficult and so it keeps that side in front to make sure I get full rotations.
  • Full half turn for the first part and second part of turn… no cheating!!

Fleckerl

  • The men get a heel lead on the very first step, after that no more!
  • realistically… putting heels down probably won’t happen with time constraints
  • ladies have the first step practically in place, and then behind (2) and then cross in front twice… in crossing in front you only move one foot as to maintain an axis of rotation
  • We didn’t finish the technique of this move because it’s a rather difficult move to simply get the steps down and it was many people’s first time doing it… This move is super difficult to do when the man doesn’t have a frame and stands super far away… :(

Vidéos de Prague

I forgot to include these in my previous blog post!

Here’s a video of the Astronomical Clock at one o’clock:

Here’s a video of some of the street artists in Prague:

And now I’d like to talk about the video I didn’t take (but everyone else chose to). There was a man in a popular square dressed up as an American Indian (Native American) and painted his face red and was “dancing” around and mocking the Native American “primitive” culture.  I found this offensive.  The European view of American Indians is upsetting.  I highly doubt you would see a person dressed up as a different ethnicity and dancing around and being mocked. Also at Halloween stores (which are rare but existent in Paris), you can dress up as a “Native American” but they don’t have costumes for any other ethnicity… We actually had a guest speaker today in my Cinéma course who was talking about the representation of America in Europe and he spoke about George Catlin.  He was a promoter of Native American culture and strongly against westward expansion into Native American lands.  He painted hundreds of paintings of Native Americans and their culture.  He painted a few notable shocking portraits of Native Americans in famous luxurious locations in Paris to create controversy.

 

Prague-Second Half

On Sunday we went for a stroll and eventually ended up at the Communist Museum.  I really enjoyed this experience.  After taking multiple 20th century history classes, I really enjoyed this refresher.  Also, the information was from the Czech perspective … which as you can imagine is very different from the American perspective  They even had a small exhibit on North Korea.  I know practically nothing about the conditions of North Korea so I was super grateful to learn.

We continued strolling and stumbled upon a lovely Christmas Market!  I had a great time shopping, and it had a lovely Christmas Tree too!  I also tried some local ice cream.  It was actually pretty had to find an ice cream place, they aren’t as popular here.  I really enjoyed strolling around the town.  Our apartment was super centrally located so we just walked everywhere!

We heard great reviews about the Jewish cemetery in Prague so we decided we’d try to go visit it.  We found the exit from the cemetery and decided we’d walk around the block and try to find the entrance.  After walking almost an entire circle we see where we think we can go in.  We look on the fence and see a sign that indicates a visit is free.  So we walk inside, through a door, and then a woman is yelling at us in Czech.  The only word I know in Czech is “duquaye” which means thank you… so I had no idea what was wrong.  What we gleaned was that it was not in fact free and that we were supposed to have tickets to enter the Jewish museum which was attached to the cemetery.  What was “free” was to enter a Jewish place of worship which wasn’t where we were barging in.  Unfortunately by this time it was too late to buy tickets so we didn’t get to go inside.

We went to a traditional Czech restaurant for dinner.  This restaurant had great reviews online so we thought we’d check it out.  The restaurant had all kinds of artifacts hanging such as old sundials and “machines” that made elixirs and magic potions… they gave us a history pamphlet to read about all all the artifacts while we waited for our food…. the pamphlet was pretty funny.

I tasted some of the local beer.  I’m not a fan of beer but since I was in a beer-making capital of the world I had to try it.  I found the girliest beer on the list and tasted a Radler Orange beer.  It had an orange flavor and spice to it so it wasn’t super beer-like and I actually enjoyed it.  This restaurant was one of the few traditional Czech restaurants that had vegetarian options.  I had a dish with “Old Prague noodles” which looked like fettucini but I think they were made with potatoes.  They were served with fresh vegetables and a blue cheese sauce.  It was very heavy food and I couldn’t finish it.

Throughout the weekend we tasted as many types of chocolate bars as possible.  We went to a convenient store and tasted all the exotic flavors:  Chocolate and lime, chocolate and cherry cream, chocolate and eldenberry, pringle-shaped chocolate with mint flakes, pringle-shaped chocolate with caramel flakes, “happy cow” marbled white and dark chocolate, and more!!!

We left Monday afternoon.  We spent the morning packing up and then we went back to the Christmas market to spend what Czech money we had left.  I ended up getting two lovely scarves made with cashmere and silk for (the equivalent of) only 7.5 euros each!!

 

Cultural and Structural differences between Paris and Prague:

  • Streets all super tiny with cobblestones and very few cars
  • you can smoke in restaurants
  • fewer people smoke
  • escalators are super super steep
  • service only included sometimes
  • super walkable, whereas in Paris riding the métro is pretty necessary
  • fewer homeless on the streets
  • instead of verbally begging, they sit on the floor in a praying position with their head down and an upturned hat for money
  • eating food on the streets is more accepted
  • more christmas decorations!
  • bells bells bells… always ringing

Prague: Old Town Square and Castle

So on Friday evening we arrived in Prague!!!  We first went and explored all around the Old Town Square! It’s simply beautiful!  Then we went to an Irish bar and finally had Bailey’s Coffee!!  We’ve been wanting to try it and it’s so expensive in Paris.  The exchange rate is pretty nice here… it’s about 25 Czech to 1 euro or 20 Czech to 1 dollar.  My first impression was : oh my gosh, this looks like DisneyLand.  The architecture is simply stunning.

We went to check into our apartment.  We are renting an apartment for the three nights.  They actually gave us the wrong apartment so they gave us a night for free!  So with this discount we ended up only spending 35 euros each to pay for it (only 11.6 euros a night per person!!!).  It has a full kitchen so we went to a grocery store and got goodies to snack on and food to make for breakfasts!

We met with our other friend staying with us and we went to dinner.  We went to a really nice Italian place and shared pizza.  There was live music playing that was fantastic!  While this restaurant was super nice for Prague, it’s price was about the equivalent of a relatively cheap restaurant in Paris.

We slept super well and made a breakfast feast!  This morning we took a walk through Old Town Square to Charles’ Bridge and up to Prague castle.  This bridge goes over the river that runs through prague.  It has beautiful statues on both sides along the way, and some street music and some little venders.  I tried some of their famous mulled wine because it was a little chilly this morning. It smells just like hot apple cider, but it is hot spiced wine instead of apple juice.  The Prague castle was interesting.  It wasn’t as phenomenal as the Castle’s in the Loire, but nonetheless it was a nice cultural experience.  The castle was actually pretty small and we could only see small parts of it, but the castle area had multiple other things to see in the location so we had a great time ( and everyone speaks English ).  The cathedral was very similar to what I’ve seen in France, but the Basilica was quite different, and much smaller and with beautiful wrap-around staircases.  Unfortunately I couldn’t take photos in the castle nor the basilica. Then we went to the Golden Lane: a gorgeous row of painted shops and recreations.

Next we tried at Trollo, which is the Czech interpretation of a churro! It’s dough rolled onto a cylinder and rolled into cinnamon and sugar and walnuts.  Then it goes into a heater and afterwards it gets more cinnamon and sugar and walnuts. Therefore it was hard and sugary on the outside and soft and doughy inside.  We had a beautiful view of all of Prague from the castle!

Next we ent to a toy museum.  It is the second largest toy museum of its type in the world!!!  The biggest is in Malaysia, I had to look that one up.  The bottom floor was full of all types of toys, and it had a Christmas theme.  There was the history and the story of the Christmas Tree throughout the rooms that I found super fascinating!  The top floor was all barbies…. all types of barbies… Starwars barbies, pregnant barbies, High School Musical barbies, Christmas barbies… etc.

We also visited the Church of Our Lady in front of Týn.  Again photos weren’t allowed.. but this church was very different…. Instead of stain glass windows, it had gold leaf EVERYWHERE.

Also, marionettes are all over the place!!  I took some photos of funny looking once! Check out all my photos from my first day in Prague!!

Thanksgiving à la française

After having class all day (even Starbucks spelled my name correctly for the first time!!), I came home to a lovely Thanksgiving feast!  I was so grateful to have a lovely Thanksgiving with my French host family and my real family! I was super thankful that everyone spoke English so my mom and grandma could converse freely and I didn’t have to translate all night! My host father cooked a delicious thanksgiving dinner for my whole family and some of his friends! The dishes we had:

  • leek soup
  • some sort of bird… although it wasn’t turkey (our oven is too small)
  • mashed potatoes
  • sweet potato casserole
  • broccoli casserole
  • french bread
  • green beens
  • “cranberry” sauce; although it was some relative to cranberries
  • and a lovely Pistachio and Cherry dessert!!

Not completely the American-style that I’ve experienced, but I sure enjoyed the experience!!! Check out the lovely photos!!