The Shtetl is Koniński Dance Theater’s latest performance, which is currently in rehearsal.
Learning about Konin’s history through dance is discussed by Katarzyna Łapaj, who received a Marshal grant for the performance, and Agnieszka Łapaj-Lewandowska of KTT. Premiere on June 26 in the evening, behind the Konin Synagogue. It promises to be a journey through time.
† What was the inspiration for taking up the subject of the Jewish Queen and illustrating this fragment of history with dance?
Katarzyna Kapaj. – As the Konin dance theater, we met the Jewish culture at the Pirania light festival in August last year. Maybe it’s a bit of a shame, maybe late, but we didn’t really know much about it. We showed dance sets in the synagogue in Konin and I have been very interested in this subject ever since. So when the scholarship competition was announced, I decided to pursue a topic that would connect the residents of Konin. There was a “very personal ID” about post-war history and I wanted to keep dancing around the city. I combined it with Theo Richmond’s “Persistent Echo”. So we go back in time and focus on the Jewish community.
† Want to recreate the Shtetl Konin?
Agnieszka Łapaj-Lewandowska. – We want to say that the Jewish community lived and functioned here, and at one point made up almost fifty percent of the population.
† Do you use Jewish traditions in the performance?
Katarzyna Kapaj. – We want to evoke this atmosphere, but we don’t try to play these roles literally. We will not become Jewish on stage, because that would not be true. We will try to show it with our eyes. We read excerpts from the book and sing. The show is based on an old Jewish song that grandmothers sang to their grandchildren. We want to talk about life, memory, not destruction. After this story, we look at Konin differently. A new area of thinking about the city, seeing and understanding this place has opened.
Agnieszka Lapaj-Lewandowska. The movement itself was inspired by symbols related to Jewish culture, for example the shape of the menorah or the star of David. It may not be presented so easily, but it does make an appearance in the piece.
† I have the impression that a special history lesson is being prepared for Koninians.
Katarzyna Kapaj. – It’s not a happy story. Partly melancholic. Nostalgic. It makes us think. Therein lies its charm. Even after rehearsals we are muted, we talk less, we think more. However, we do not want to invite people to a sad wake and despair. Rather, encourage them to borrow a book and find out what it used to be like in Konin.
† Can you tell us about the setting of the dance performance?
Katarzyna Kapaj. – It was a challenge. We have great music. Again Kajetan Pilarski is working with us, who has made a lot of this music with me. We have two new creators: Artur Wieczorek, who plays the clarinet, and Mateusz Górski, who created a strong electronic part of the performance. He is an employee of CKiS in Konin, he worked for us as a sound engineer. It turned out that it creates, but in a drawer. So we fulfill our purpose, that is, we give the creators of Konin a chance to show their skills.
† Who else can be named in this production?
Agnieszka Łapaj-Lewandowska. – For the first time we recruited for a project group. The regular team consisting of: Weronika Skórzewska, Kinga Furmaniak, Katarzyna Łapaj, Agnieszka Łapaj-Lewandowska was joined by Nina Jóźwiak and Natalia Poprawska, who were already in other projects, as well as Martyna Kulig, Oliwia Wanot, Olga Szumanaj and Dominika Mikazykzykzykzykkzykzykzykzykzykzykzykzykzi.
Katarzyna Kapaj. – And also Maria Chrysostomou from Cyprus, who is always with us and has had the opportunity to create this spectacle. She has learned a lot about Konin, she feels like Konin’s horse.
Agnieszka Łapaj-Lewandowska. The co-organizers are the Youth Cultural Center and the Center for Culture and Art in Konin. Bartosz Furmaniak is responsible for the entire photographic setting. We just finished the video promoting the show but actually promoting Konin.
† What are the emotions on the home straight?
Katarzyna Kapaj. † I’m more stressed than I am for “evidence”. The shtetl is the third performance, “Filtered with Balloons” on the way. We made it for the first time during the school year. Preparations have been underway since April. We work every day and rehearsals take place on weekends. However, I am looking forward to this location, behind the synagogue, which has some charm. I feel enchanted after every attempt and see the same in others. I want to throw it off myself, share it with others and show what we can do.
Thank you for the conversation.