We are the champions
Over the past couple of months, there was a dance competition in Ukraine – mainly in Kiev. Different teams from around Ukraine competed against each other, got votes, and the winner went on to the next round – just like any other competition, basically.
I have a friend who has been dancing for many years, and also teaches dancing (brings back memories and longing from my childhood dancing days). She kept me updated on the progress of Kirovograd. I was not able to watch the quarter or semi-finals on television, but one day a couple of weeks ago I turned on the television on a Saturday evening and saw the Kirovograd team performing.
As it turns out, I was watching the finals. And Kirovograd won.
Well, I knew this was a big deal, because of all of the fanfare around it. I guess that until last night, I did not know just HOW big of a deal it was.
On Wednesday, my friend invited me to a celebration/exhibition on Saturday. Great, I said. We arranged for me to meet with her sister. Easy enough, I thought. Hah! The crowd was HUGE, and her sister was waiting for me on the INSIDE of the gate. Unfortunately, as I did not have a ticket (her sister had my ticket), I was on the OUTSIDE of the gate. When we finally found each other, I had to go through and wait for her to bring me my ticket. But I got in.
I thought I was on time, by standards here, to meet her at the gate at 6:30, when the event was scheduled to begin at 7:00. Well, as it turns out, I was early. But that is fine – better than being late. Something I noticed, that I had forgotten about the stadium and how things are done here, is that they brought out the military and the police – trainees and those already sworn in – and lined them up in front of the crowds. I had never seen such a thing, and asked why they were there. My companion said “to make sure there is no trouble.” I asked if this was a problem
and she told me no, but they are there to make sure there are no problems. Well, I said, given that they are on the ground and we are up in the stands, if any problems were to break out up here, it would take them a while to get here…
Anyway, so we waited and the show started around 7:30. It did not end until after 11:00! I forgot that when they celebrate things here, they celebrate BIG. Not only did the 500-member team of dancers do a couple of exhibition dances, but there were troupes from other cities and towns in Kirovograd. There were also singers brought in to congratulate the team (including Mikhail Poplavskiy – the very same one that we met last month on our way to the photo excursion in Gaivoron). The mayor spoke, the governor spoke (AND sang). They lit sparkler type things while some of the people were dancing.
When I say then went all-out, I mean they went all out! At the end of the show, around 11:00, they set off the fireworks. For a few minutes, it felt like being in the U.S. on the Fourth of July…until I heard people talking 🙂
And oh yes, they wanted to have the largest group of people dancing at the same time, to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records. So they showed us all some dance moves, and we all did them together – all 14,000 of us in the stadium. Except the military and police men (I say men because in this country, the ones who work “the streets” are all men).
I was also asked to help out my companion, who is an English teacher, with a project – or as she put it, she had a business proposition for me. She has gotten some studio time and wants me to read some stories, for her to use in her English classes. She said she wants a native speaker to read them, so her students can understand how words are supposed to sound. But the fact that she asked me? I am not the biggest fan of my voice when I hear recordings of it…but I guess it could be worse, as it is not high-pitched or nasal…anyway, I was flattered and am definitely going to do it. Then her mother, who runs the school where she works, asked me to help them this fall with some project they are doing.
So let’s see, come this fall, I will work at the Technical University, the Technical College,have appearances at the Pedagogical University, a potential guest series at a university in Khmelnitsky, and now help with a project at this grammar school as well. My community outreach has worked, I guess, although not necessarily in the way I had previously thought!