Monday, November 21, 2011

NUK++ and the Nord-Norge Festival

After leaving the base we headed to Harstad, where we would be working at the NUK++ kids festival which was associated with the Nord-Norje (Northern Norway) music festival.  The festival is part of the European “summer season” of festivals and the NUK++ element was added to give kids a chance to see parts of it and also to function as a sort of “summer camp” for a week.  Children are given the opportunity to sign up for one of a number of different subjects, ranging from parkour to music composition to candle-dipping.  Over the course of a week they spend most of the day working on that subject and interacting with the other children, preparing for the final talent show in which they exhibit their work to family and friends.

Harstad, Norway.

The NUK++ logo.

Our first two days in Harstad also included a workshop for a group of Norwegian dancers that had contacted Streetmovment to arrange the workshop.  Since both Martin and Mikkel were doing a demonstration for the NUK++ festival the first day, I was given the responsibility of leading the first half of the dancer’s workshop.  Despite being rather nervous about running my first official class totally solo, the class went really well and I had a ton of fun.  The dancers picked up the movements very quickly and seemed to possess a natural fluidity and grace that many traceurs take a long time to develop, if ever.  Of course their enthusiasm and interest made my job easy, as did the fact that they were used to pushing themselves physically as a group, and used their group dynamics to ensure that everyone kept up.  By the end of the class I was on a huge “teaching high”, a sensation that continued throughout the rest of the week.

A local paper's coverage of the workshop with the dancers.   Courtesy of the Intuit Dance Company.
The rest of the week passed in a blur, between spending the days teaching the students, and the nights exploring the festival nightlife with Martin and Mikkel.  As official “artists” at the festival, we were given passes that allowed us free access to all of the shows and concerts at the festival, which was a huge perk.  I found it pretty interesting that the Danes and Norwegians were able to communicate almost seamlessly while talking in their own tongues, and were even able to understand the Swedish rap group that played one night. While I didn’t find Norwegian any easier to understand than Danish, I did find that Norway, like Denmark, has such a high rate of English-speakers that communication wasn’t much of an issue.  Yes, I did feel a bit left out at times when people reverted to their native languages to “talk business”, but that is to be expected when living in a foreign country where one doesn’t speak the language. 

Being tourists (Note: it was 10pm at the time this photo was taken).  Photo courtesy of Martin Kallesøe.

Enjoying the view from our rooftop training arena our first day in Harstad.  Photo courtesy of Martin Kallesøe

All work and no play... or the other way around.  Photo courtesy of Martin Kallesøe.

Leave it to the hipster to be the clown.  Photo courtesy of Martin Kallesøe.
The NUK++ workshop went really well and the kids made a huge amount of progress over the course of the week.  While some of them did have prior experience with parkour, for many of them that “experience” was limited to watching and emulating YouTube videos and most had never seen anything like the Streetmovement training method.  However, unlike many people when confronted with the hard training and conditioning that accompanies what I would call “real parkour” (as opposed to going outside and “playing ninja” on a roof for a bit), the kids really embraced the training.  Of course not everything was hard work, and we made sure to keep things fun, but the kids seemed pretty intent to get the most out of the training that they could.  When they performed at the final “talent show” at the end of the week, I couldn’t help but be really proud of them and the progress that they had made in such a short amount of time.

Photo courtesy of Martin Kallesøe.

Photo courtesy of Martin Kallesøe.

A bit of a "warmup" on the stairs.  Photo courtesy of Martin Kallesøe.

Photo courtesy of Martin Kallesøe.

Catching up on the blog during some free moments.  Photo courtesy of Martin Kallesøe.

Photo courtesy of Martin Kallesøe.

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