Friday, January 9, 2009

Au Revoir a La France!

I am writing this final posting from home in New Hampshire after returning on December 12th to an extraordinary ice storm and eleven days with no lights, heat, or running water. Oh—la—la! Quite a shock after “city life” in Lyon!! The following are some concluding thoughts on our experience of the first Franklin Pierce Dance Semester in France.

The last week…..Although everyone was eager to reunite with family and friends in the US, there was a growing wistfulness as our departure date came near. We continued to be very busy right up until the final day with trips to the Musée Lumière and to the Musée de l’Art Contemporaine and dance rehearsals both for our February concert and for the site-specific piece we have been working on via video (lots of stairs!!). We continued to attend performances and especially enjoyed seeing the Brazilian company Groupo Corpo as guests of Guy Darmet, the director of La Biennale de la Danse. The final days also contained a flurry of gift-purchases, room cleaning, and creative packing. Our final evening in Lyon included a lovely dinner at Le Canut et Le Gone, a cozy restaurant in the Croix Rousse district, followed by a walk around town for a last look at the lights of Lyon. Christine and the students had an early flight out of St. Exupéry airport the next day that required us to get taxis at 4:15 AM to catch the airport shuttle bus, so it was hard to decide whether or not to have a cat nap. Although we had ordered four “taxi-vans” from “Allo-Taxi!,” only one van and a sedan appeared! Fortunately the van driver was a familiar friend---he was the man who ran the kebab stand around the corner! He called for reinforcements, and another van arrived. With all of the bags, it was still a miracle that we were able to get everyone sardined into the cab with the doors closed too! But, we made it to the airport and even got the giant “blanket bag” checked and on the flight. Then I returned to the Résidence for the final turn-over of keys, room assessments, and collection of student telephones.

I am very grateful to have had such a willing, cheerful, and compatible group of students on this first “Dance in France” adventure. I often told the students that they were the “pioneers” in this experience, and that they would be paving the way for the groups who would come to do this in following years. Now, that the term is over, I am even more convinced than before of the value of this project as a way of opening students up to an extraordinary variety of dance experience, while at the same time providing a valid and inspiring cross-cultural and academic opportunity in language, culture, history, and the arts. Next departure: Fall 2010!