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Promoting languages for future generations

Creative Culture recently had the chance to collaborate with CILT, the National Centre for Languages in the UK, for the Business Language Champion (BLC) programme which brings schools and businesses together.

The BLC programme takes place across the UK, trying to make children aware of the multilingual and multicultural society we are living in and raise their interest in languages from a professional perspective. Their approach is quite an unusual one since they do not aim at giving language lessons but introducing the pupils to small or large international businesses which require language skills from their employees. It also shows why it is important not to reduce the business language(s) to English only – which is not spoken at all by 75% of the world’s population.

Creative Culture started collaborating with Chelsea and Hurlingham School in Fulham in May 2010, presenting our company, case study projects and the importance of foreign languages in various creative industries. We are glad to participate in something we know could be a powerful tool for these children’s future and to help them to have a better vision of today’s reality in our kind of business. We are aware that people who speak only one language are at a disadvantage in the current job market and this trend will keep increasing in the coming years.

In a world where there are emerging economies and new markets to compete and trade with continuously, BLC is trying to make UK students want to develop their language skills and appreciate the world they are evolving in, a rich multicultural environment and a continuously changing society.

For more information about the BLC programme, visit their website:
http://cilt.org.uk/workplace/business_language_champions.aspx

By Elisabet Valle

On the trail of Polish identity

To introduce the most interesting achievements of Polish culture to countries all over the world, the Polish Ministry of Culture, the National Heritage and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have organised a programme to promote Poland abroad, since 2000. Such projects have already been held in 24 countries and are now open to the British public. Amongst the 200 projects is the exhibition A World Before A Catastrophe: Krakow’s Jews between the Wars.

The exhibition depicts the different aspects of community life in Krakow. One can discover that, against all expectations and clichés, not all Jewish people were involved in Finance, Law, Medicine or Arts. Snapshot scenes of markets, picnics in parks, people playing sports or involved in politics, military and religion illustrate the social and political lifestyle of the time.

Between the two wars, 25 % of the city’s population was Jewish. They had lived in Krakow for centuries and were engaged in rebuilding the nation which had suffered from the partition of Poland between Russia, Prussia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the 18th century. There was a true nationalistic feeling: even when the Jewish community originally came from outside of Poland, they wrote for Jewish newspapers in Polish and fought for the country during WW1 – their soul and heart was Polish.

Introducing the Krakow Jewish community in the context of the Polska! Year, the exhibition aims at reminding communities of the past and the impact of WW2 in Poland and for Jewish people in Poland. This historical event and its consequences still are an important part of Polish culture and identity today. For Caroline Levy, who was involved in the exhibition preparation in Krakow and the selection of the photographs, it was important to point out that there still is a Jewish community there today. “Although many Jewish people died and the communities are not as big as before, the quality and intensity of events, social life and activities are great.”

Another aspect of the project was to promote Polish culture and to strengthen the cultural relationships abroad. In Caroline’s opinion, the fact that many people are yet to discover Poland, the project plays an important role in promoting the country. She received numerous responses from people who have never seen Poland and who are surprised about the multifaceted and lively culture.

It is important to say that this exhibition is not only directed to Western Europeans. Polish people themselves are particularly engrossed in getting involved, and participate to questions referring to Polish culture, history and society. A lot of Polish music and arts were influenced by Jewish people, and WW2 has represented a tragic loss in these respective areas. Having travelled to Poland many times, Caroline realised a change in Polish society in the past years. “You can compare it with the changes that happened in Germany 15 years ago. People in Poland are looking for their roots and want to reclaim their identity.”

The Jewish community centre and Galicia Museum in Krakow are the places to go, if you want to get an impression about Jewish culture throughout times: visit http://jcckrakow.org/en or http://www.galiciajewishmuseum.org/ for more information.

The Polska! Year continues throughout 2010. To download a brochure or get an overview of all current events please visit http://www.polskayear.pl/en/ .

By Kathrin Wulf

The Czech Memorial Scrolls

The Czech Memorial Scrolls – A story about the rescue of a piece of Jewish culture

Exhibitions about the Jewish Community are often reduced to history and happenings during WW2 with a tragic ending. Kent House in London, which is attached to the Westminster Synagogue, is home to 1,564 Czech Scrolls from Jewish communities of Bohemia and Moravia, in the Czech Republic.

The Torah scrolls, regarded by many as the most important religious records in the Jewish religion are generally kept in synagogues. Each Jewish community has its own scroll which they read their prayers and services from, especially on Shabbat or other religious holidays.

In 1942, a Jewish initiative in Prague decided to collect all scrolls in Moravia and Bohemia, hoping that these treasures would be protected and one day returned to their original homes. More than 20 years later, in 1964, the scrolls were purchased from the Czech back into Jewish hands thanks to the Westminster Synagogue. After restoration, some of the scrolls could be given back to members of various communities. For Evelyn Friedlander, who supervises the Czech Memorial Scrolls Trust in London, it is an indescribable feeling to know that some of the scrolls have a new home in a synagogue somewhere in the world. “The Czech Memorial Scrolls Trust made it possible to establish new connections between Jewish communities, no matter where they are located.”

Wandering through the exhibition feels like travelling through time. Every room describes a new stage of the scrolls’ restoration process.

In the end, the sight of the uncountable scrolls situated behind the glass, truly illustrates how much work was invested through the years to save this piece of Jewish culture.

Evelyn Friedlander especially recommends this exhibition to school classes: “For children it is interesting to discover a story from the beginning to the end. Since they can see the result, the story is easy to understand and the historical topic more reachable.”

For more background information about the story of the scrolls and the exhibition please visit http://www.czechmemorialscrollstrust.org

By Kathrin Wulf

Tango, more than a dance.

Canyengue, Flamenco and Ballroom Tango all are adaptations of the original Argentine Tango. Once branded as an erotic dance, it was only performed in lower-class districts. Nowadays the dance has spread to all social classes and some people would even describe it as the most elegant dance of all.

Times have definitely changed. Although it is impossible to date the invention of Argentine Tango or to attribute it to a person in particular, Tange can be traced back to the end of the 19th century in Greater Argentina in Rio de la Plata. There and in Montevideo (Uruguay), different people and cultures collided. Europeans and African slaves were mixed with thousands of Peones (farm labourers) who moved to the seaport area to escape, hoping to find work and a better life. But slums (“the Barrios“) arose, a lack of women caused a prostitution boom and Tango became an expression for extended misery.

At the beginning of the 20th century, dancers and orchestras from Buenos Aires travelled to Europe. Because Paris was where trends were born and new fashions were immediately imitated, a “Tango de salon” needed to be developed. From the eyes of the upper social class, Tango was still seen as a vulgar dance, not suitable with the European social norms. Later, English dance teachers created a new version that led to standardised basic techniques and styles. Today, there are uncountable different styles of Tango. In September 2009, Tango was officially declared cultural Heritage by the UNESCO.

Liz Bayley and Doni Fierro, both professional dancers and instructors with long lasting experience, know all the differences between Latin and European Tango. “It starts with people‘s attitude to dancing in general“, says Liz, who was born England and travelled to over 40 countries. “While people in Europe plan to go dancing, in South America they turn on the radio and listen to the vibes whilst washing their car or cleaning the house. If you feel like dancing, you just do it”. Doni, who was born and raised in Venezuela, explains: “I can remember dancing with ladies who were three or four times my age when I was ten. The furniture was pushed aside and the whole family was dancing to the rhythm without having ever been to a dancing school. You do not think about steps and figures. You just dance where the rhythm leads you.” For people in South America dancing is part of life. They dance on the streets, at parties on the beach, during get-togethers with friends or family celebrations.” Liz describes the atmosphere in Argentina: “Tango music is everywhere, live performances on the street, posters and stickers from Tango stars like Carlos Gardel, Juan Carlos Copes or Maria Nieves are sold. People from South America are proud of their way of life, it can be seen as a cliché, but when you are in Buenos Aires, the only thing you want to do is dance”.

Beside the fact that Tango became more common than ever over the last ten years, it has been encouraged as a new treatment method for patients with neurological problems. In different studies, Argentine Tango was seen as a therapy to help heal disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer. Taking Tango lessons was proved to bring improvements in balance, walking backwards as well as in the feeling of isolation thanks to the physical and social context.

Doni and Liz try to promote the ‘Tango therapy’ in the UK as well.

If you would like to meet them or learn more about Tango, join Doni on Sunday’s in "Dance Works" in Oxford Street in London or go to http://www.doniandliz.com.

By Kathrin Wulf