Celebrating Cultures, Promoting Integration
Dancer, teacher and choreographer Mateusz Szczerek, called Matt was born in Poland. He came to Dublin 8 years ago just to change environment for a year or two. But the vibe of Ireland, as well as the creativity and mentality of the Irish people appealed to him so much that he decided to stay. “I learned here that I can do many things and I don´t need to be limited,” said Matt in our interview.
How did you get to Dublin? What brought you here?
I came here 8 years ago. I wanted to change the environment. I used to live in Poland. I had a job and everything. But my friend messaged me that they have a spare room in their apartment and If I want I can move and live in Dublin for a moment. I studied tourism and I did travel before quite a lot. But I have never been in Ireland. So I decided to leave Poland and come here. In the beginning I thought about to stay maybe for two years, but time went so quickly. I really like the vibe of the Ireland. I was amazed how people are creative and I just decided to stay longer.
…it means that you prefer people and atmosphere here than in Poland.
For sure. I like more mentality of Irish people than Polish. I learned here that I can do many things and I don´t need to be limited. In Poland I used think about what people say and how they are looking on me. But when I came here I didn´t care. I just did whatever came to my mind. I organized the events, set up classes. I didn’t know anyone here in the beginning. I wanted to get to know people. The only way was to start organizing staff and believed that some people come over. 🙂
Was it hard to break through in dance here? For example to start teaching?
It took me maybe 5 or 6 years to get to the point where I am right now and just right now I feel like I really get to know the scene. I actually know the majority of the dance scene and people, who are responsible for jobs, gigs etc. But it wasn’t too hard to break through. People are open to different communities.
Did you teach already in Poland?
No, I didn´t teach in Poland. I was studying and taking classes in there. I was breaking and doing Hip Hop. That was the only two art forms that I did. I used to do graffiti as well, MCing. Actually I was doing rapping more than dancing in Poland. When I came here maybe one year and half I didn’t dance at all. Only after that time I felt like something is missing in my life and I need to do something physical. I decided to take some classes with different people. I realized that the level isn’t really so high and I can give something to that as well. I wasn’t intimidated by the level of dance over here, so I thought why not just bring whatever I have .
How long have you been dancing?
It´s 15 years that I actually know that I’m dancing. Before I´ve danced as well, my parents decided to give me to different classes as salsa, bachata, merengue. But that time I was just doing it. I didn’t really care. I was just aware of dancing with the girl and it was cool.
Did you travel a lot because of dancing? To get to the level you´re currently at?
Maybe the past 3 years I traveled much more than before. I visited places like Portugal, Spain (Barcelona), London. Before In Poland I used to go to summer or winter camps that was intensive way of training. In Portugal or Spain it was different. I got directly to a communities of dancers.
For example in Spain, I was close to the krump community which is not my style at all. Portugal was more commercial. I went there for a teaching. Not really even to learn everything but to share with other people. And in London I used train with Rain Crew and couple of individual people.
What are you focusing on in dance? Which style do you prefer?
My focus has changed and is changing all the time. I’ve started with breaking. Then I went into choreography, I wanted to learn it because it was something that I couldn’t memorize. When I got that, I started to get into house dance. From house into Hip Hop and then into popping. I feel like all those things hsve influenced and made each one of my styles stronger. Also all the time through all these styles I was working with the contemporary style. I always was interested in mixing it up and using it in different ways. Then I started experimenting with theatre and making my own shows.
Tell us something more about your theatre experience and performing.
My first feeling that I wanted to be on a stage and performing came with the Michael Jackson tribute show. We did a tour around Ireland. I was one of the dancers at the show. The sense of that was great. Then CoisCéim Dance Company did auddition for one of their shows called The Wolf and Peter. I´ve got it and I was a wolf in it. That was the first proper job. I got to work with a choreographer called David Bolger: very creative mind. He has different approach and used my skills in a different way.
Mateusz Szczerek and Ivonne Kalter: The Wolf and Peter, Photos by Ros Kavanagh
After that I met a girl called Cathy Coughlan from Havoc Dance Company. She wanted me to choreograph a couple of shows. One was called Oil & Water. That was twenty minutes piece shown in the Theatre in Tallaght. Then a few weeks ago we did opening for festival called In Context 4.
Are you working on something now? Do you prepare any dance performance?
We are coming back with the tour in November for The Wolf and Peter. This is going to take up my time until February and again from May to July. I actually don’t have time to produce any work because I’ll be on tour with these guys. But I’m focusing a lot on bringing community here together. I´m trying to get more people to enjoy dancing. It’s the most important thing. There is one platform called JamMasters. We are basicly building community of young people that will then take a further. Also introducing these people to body contact improv. I feel like in a theatre I used to it a lot and now with Hip Hop skills, to add body contact to it, it´s amazing mixture if you can get through it.
What is a level of street dance community here? Is it growing up?
The level is definitely growing up. First of all because people travel more. Second of all because they are uniting. We train together. Krumpers, bboys, Hip Hop dancers, poppers, everybody in the same room. There are not enough people of each style. For example there aren´t so many bboys that they could dance and jam only with eachother. So we are training together. If I´m in the jam, I´m watching bbobys, krumpers and it gives me something extra. I can mix those things and use it in my dance.
What do you consider your biggest success in dance?
I supposed being part of a CoisCéim dance theatre. It is worldwide recognize. But the one that I’m the proudest of is organizing events. I organize events called Cypher Kings and Work In Progress. Those were the two events that I´m really happy with. Work In Progress was a more experimental event, dance battle 2 vs 2. The event Cypher Kingz was based in a cypher. It was half an hour cypher. I supposed just the courage to do that gave me the most satisfaction. I put it off just by myself. I didn’t ask anyone for a help and It worked. Everyone was having fun. 😀 My personal level is definitely that one.
Do you have any planes in the future? What are your goals?
I´m a more take it day by day type of person. I don´t look too much into the future. I focus on now. I feel this way I can make much more of a difference than making long term plans. I´m supposed to be a good person and doing my best will bring me to the point where I need to be in the future. It will create those goals and just reveal themselves. Always when I get on the place it’s amazing. It seems that I always wanted to be in this place even though I have never thought about it. I just love what I do.
More information about CoisCéim Dance Theatre on: http://coisceim.com/