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Tancujúce medvede

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4.03  ·  Rating details ·  477 ratings  ·  80 reviews
Witold Szabłowski hovorí, že sme ako tancujúce medvede. Nie, nie je to žiadna nová „darwinovská“ teória. Akt oslobodenia cvičeného medveďa je jeho metaforou vývoja spoločnosti v strednej a južnej Európe po páde komunistických režimov. V tejto knižke stačí zameniť slovo „medveď“ za iné, napríklad Poliak, Slovák, Srb alebo Rumun, aby sme pochopili, aká bola naša cesta za slo ...more
Paperback, 232 pages
Published 2017 by Absynt (first published May 8th 2014)
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Hadrian
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This volume is an extended contrast - the liberation of dancing bears and their repatriation to the Belitsa Dancing Bears Park in southwest Bulgaria, and the wandering outcomes of those who lived in post-Soviet countries.

Szabłowski, a Polish journalist, hit upon the idea after hearing a Bulgarian colleague describe it as a "freedom research lab". He then began to think on freedom, in the small-l liberal sense of freedom, what it promises, how it liberates, how it could overwhelm those unaccusto
...more
Kristy K
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, arc, history, netgalley
3.5 Stars

This was such an interesting story about a slice of recent history I feel few know about. Szablowski tells stories related to the dancing bears in the first part and former citizen’s opinions of the fall of the USSR in the second.

Dancing bears were a part of Bulgarian gypsy customs for a while, when the Soviet Union collapsed this cultural performance was no longer acceptable.

Their handlers would de-teeth these bears, get them addicted to alcohol, and many times abuse them. Sadly, thi
...more
Lauren
In Dancing Bears, Szabłowski investigates the Romani dancing bears - kept and trained for centuries to perform and serve as the livelihood for the traveling peoples. When Bulgaria joined the European Union this practice of bear-keeping became illegal, and the bears were gathered up and placed in a reserve where they were allowed to live their days "as bears", even though they didn't know how. They were taught to hunt, to eat by themselves, to hibernate, and to live in this new way. Some made it, ...more
Text Publishing
‘Riveting.’
Overland

‘A compelling and nuanced portrait of the push between the freedoms of modernity and nostalgia for the old communist system…[Szablowski ] displays the qualities of a top-notch reporter: an eye for telling detail and inherent sympathy for his subject.’
Australian

‘Fascinating.’
Otago Daily Times

‘Utterly original…Provokes a far-reaching and unresolved conversation about what freedom might really mean.’
New York Times Book Review

‘Szablowski has a keen eye for the absurd.’
Litera
...more
Mireille
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Begrensde vrijheid en grenzen met vrijheid

Bulgaarse zigeuners trokken in de communistische tijd rond met dansende beren als act. In het journalistieke reisverslag Dansende beren vertelt Witold Szablowski hoe deze beren hun vrijheid kregen, maar ook hoe zij een metafoor zijn voor hun bazen.

De auteur zelf is geboren in Polen ten tijde van de Sovjet-Unie. Hij heeft meegemaakt hoe in 1989 voor het eerst sinds de Russische overheersing vrije verkiezingen gehouden werden en democratie zijn intrede de
...more
Emm²
Dancing Bears is a massively interesting book on the rehabilitating of former "dancing" bears of Eastern Europe and its strange parallels to life in various countries after the collapse of Communism.

Dancing Bears is a perfect combination in nonfiction of accessible, entertaining and unflinchingly honest. I'm not well-versed on politics, truthfully, but I find the history and culture of these countries fascinating, especially since they are all firsthand interviews from the people who were there.
...more
Robert Wechsler
Apr 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This is really two books. The first is about dancing bears, more specifically Bulgarian Romani dancing bears, which were outlawed ten years ago, when Bulgaria joined the European Union. It is an amazingly well-chosen series of monologues from Romani, those trying to save the bears, and others. I was lucky enough to see one of these bears 35 years ago in a visit to the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria. It was such a part of the resort town that it took me a while to realize the bear was standing in th ...more
Jessica T.
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, nonfiction
Holy dancing bears... This book was excellent. The first part of the book gives the reader a concise history of the dancing bears of Europe and it ends with the conservation effort of these bears. The second part discusses how citizens of post communist countries are finding difficulties adjusting to freedom/capitalism. It shows the parallels between the bears and the people and helps explain why freedom is so difficult. This was an eye opener for me and written in a language anyone can understa ...more
Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits)
See more of my book reviews on my blog, Literary Flits

This book is in two halves, the first of which tells of the last few Bulgarian Roma families to own dancing bears. Szablowski spent time talking with these families about how they kept and trained their bears, how they were fed and cared for. He also spoke with the Austrain Four Paws charity which was committed to rescuing the bears and now provides them with a safe home and the illusion of freedom. Having been captives for practically all th
...more
Theediscerning
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a really good book. To start with, you accept the metaphor that an Eastern European removed from the shackles of Communism is like a dancing bear, reduced to wondering what they did wrong and where their next meal is coming from. But then we see the truth – this is about dancing bears, not metaphorically. And by Chapter 3 you clearly see the fact that huge international fund-raising efforts were undertaken, for the sake of a couple of dozen animals at most, and that it was clearly an ant ...more
Lori
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Přiznám se, že jsem po celkem rozpačitém zážitku s Vrahem z mesta marhúľ měla jisté předsudky vůči autorovi. Nicméně se tady ukázalo, že není tak zlý. Kniha je rozdělena do dvou částí, v první se seznámíme s "kulturou" tancujících medvědů a jejich následným odebíráním a umístěním do speciální rezervace ochránci zvířat; bylo to sepsáno tak sugestivně, že mi ze začátku bylo těch cigánů dokonce i líto :) V druhé části pak autor přináší reportáže z postsovětských krajin a snaží se pomocí úryvků z pr ...more
Kika
Nov 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Zaujímavá reportáž. Prvá časť je o Bulharsku a aj keď je zaujímavé sledovať ako sa tam menil režim, až tak to nie je moja šálka kávy. Druhá časť už bola venovaná viacerým postkomunistickým štátom, to ma bavilo viac. :)
Rokay Mukhtar
The book has two parts, the first part is about the dancing bears, their interactions with people, how their lives change after captivity, how they are made and taught to dance and the most interesting part “FREEDOM”. The second part is about the nostalgia of Eastern Europe countries which is not very interesting.
Marshall
Nov 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent overview of people coping with Eastern Europe with the fall of communism. The dancing bears of the title refers to an an outlawed carnival act, popular in rural Bulgaria. The dancing bears serve as a metaphor for other victims in Estonia, Poland, Serbia, Georgia, and even Greece (they are suffering the aftermath of EU membership and don’t really belong here). The first chapter is a great meditation on how very similar things are in Eastern Europe to other areas of the world victimized ...more
Olga Nakhodkina
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book must be read in high schools of post communist countries. It opened my eyes on many things that are going on with my native country.
When you are trying to change this world for better, you surrounded by mostly likeminded people, and you forget that there is people described in this book. It is very eyes opening, when you are not only seeing them on the street, but you also read their stories.
I got from Moon to Earth after this book, and I bought a couple to present for my friends a
...more
Joe Zivak
Jan 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Ked sa dokumentarista rozhodne napisat esej, tak to moze dopadnut paradne. Len si nesmie ako zakladnu metaforu vybrat vycvik rumunskych medvedov.
Gaelen
This book was a lot more about bear rescue than it was about life after communism. It’s a great mission, but I have a hard time hearing about animals being treated inhumanely, and a lot of it was upsetting to read — especially when it comes to the bears’ lingering psychological damage.
Mark
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For both work and family I occasionally travel to Eastern Europe. In many conversations I have been surprised and confused how people pine for the “communist time”. I was just especially perplexed at the crowds of Germans in DDR museums talking about how great the old days were. This book helped me to understand those emotions and current Hungarian politics.
Maggie Chen
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chinese-books-18
這本《跳舞的熊》介紹的是保加利亞境內訓練熊跳舞以謀生的傳統,在保加利亞加入歐盟之後,這些「傳統」成為「非法」活動。動保團體盡力「搶救」這些受虐的熊,讓牠們恢復自由、回歸大自然,這期間動保團體也協助這些跳舞的熊恢復本能。書中如此描述:「對於不曾嚐過自由滋味的熊來說,自由是很複雜的事物。這些熊現在得自己照顧自己了,學會這件事,對牠們來說很困難,有時候是不可能的任務。」一開始作者的前言就成功引起我的興趣,自從之前讀過Capote的《冷血》後,就很喜歡這類報導文學的作品,邊讀邊讚嘆這些作家們的功力。

作者沙博爾夫斯基說:「這個故事似乎是關於熊,但也是關於我們。」

書中分兩部,第一部和第二部中的章節名稱都是一樣的,但是前者描述的是保加利亞《跳舞的熊》,後者是中、東歐各國在蘇聯解體後,人民對於未來、自由、歐盟、資本主義、共產主義等的看法。我喜歡第一部勝過於後面,第一部《跳舞的熊》的編寫已經可以說完第二部的內容了。第二部是以採訪人民的心聲,可是所談論的國家多,而我對各國的歷史都不甚了解,所以讀來就沒有那麼投入。但是第一部分真的很棒,非常精彩,也很適合用來回顧和檢視經歷過威權時代的臺灣(或者對我來說,是過
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Angela Chang
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
「跳舞的熊」寫成於2008年,距離今年中文版問世,已是十年之遙。然而對台灣而言,或許是最適合的時候。

全書以結構相同的兩部組成。第一部是關於曾經普遍存在於中、東歐的「跳舞熊」表演的歷史。作者帶領大家認識這些強壯又優雅的熊,是如何被奴役,又如何在非營利組織的努力下重獲自由。而在學習「自由」的過程中,這些跳舞熊經歷了哪些困惑、不安,甚至本能地渴望遭受奴役時所學會的把戲,能夠解決重獲自由後面臨的生存壓力。

第二部,則是以跟第一部一模一樣的架構,以中東歐各國在脫離蘇聯掌控後所面臨的社會現象,帶領讀者思考,人類面對類似於跳舞熊的困境,是如何做出與跳舞熊類似的反應。

作者是波蘭人,書中所列舉的是我所不熟悉的中東歐歷史,然而在一堆陌生名詞之中,讀到的是一股一股的熟悉感。

台灣脫離威權統治不過數十年,「自由」也還是這土地上的許多人們正在學習的課題。這一切並不容易,台灣人或許做得不夠好,但這可能不是因為我們不夠努力,而是這件事真的很難。在這轉型過渡的時代,我們除了繼續加油,給意見想法不同的同胞更多包容,也是所有人應該做的。

推薦大家都讀一讀這本「跳舞的熊」,雖然摘要寫來有點嚴肅,但身為記者的作家說故事的功力一流,
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Stuart
First rate reportage of Bulgarian former dancing bears and Slavic former collective workers, both nauseated by the freedom of the ways of the West, longing for a return to tyranny. Hilarious and tragic.
The Idle Woman
There’s a fascinating premise behind this book by the Polish journalist Witold Szabłowski. Its first half is devoted to the tale of how Bulgaria’s entry into the EU obliged it to forbid the keeping of dancing bears, thereby destroying one of its cherished traditions. Following the ‘rescued’ bears in their new home, Szabłowski looks at how the animals are coping with their new ‘freedom’ and also follows the fate of their former keepers. In the second half of the book, the bears’ clumsy encounter ...more
Moray Teale
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating oral history that in its first part tells the story of Bulgarian dancing bears, removed from performance into (relative) freedom in nature reserves. In the second half Szablowski speaks to a variety of people from Cuba. to Estonia, to Kosovo about their experiences of the post-Soviet world. From dyed-in-the-wool party members to black-marketeers, pro-EU campaigners and those determined to roll back capitalism. He paints a striking, complex and often uncomfortable picture of ...more
Marek Pawlowski
Dec 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Niezwykła książka, w przypadku której dosłowność głównej metafory jest niezwykłym atutem. Po pierwsze mamy ukazany obraz uwalniania niedźwiedzi z rąk treserów: historie tresujących oraz tresury jak i motywacje organizacji, która chciała zapewnić tym zwierzętom lepsze życie. Po drugie mamy obraz świata wydostającego się z komunizmu a opowieść o nim przeplatana jest cytatami z pierwszej części tej książki nawiązującymi do życia tańczących niedźwiedzi. Pomimo tego, że autor wprost naprowadza nas ja ...more
Virginia
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an intriguing collection of people who miss the "comfort" of living in an oppressive society. Szablowski interviews people from Cuba to Poland to Estonia, asking them what made their lives better when it was run by a dictator or an oppressive government style. Their responses are very eye-opening and really made me draw parallels to people in the US. The profiles also made me feel really lucky for living in the country I'm in.
The first half of the book though is a little heart-breaking
...more
Pascale
Aug 09, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not a book but a series of articles or, more often, mere interviews from a variety of countries: Bulgaria, Cuba, Ukraine, Albania, Estonia, Serbia, Georgia, Greece etc. Most of these reportages were already out-of-date when the book came out in Polish in 2014. Translating them into English in 2018 makes no sense at all. Although the short introduction makes some sort of claim about these texts highlighting how difficult it is for humans as well as for bears to acclimatize themselves to freedom a ...more
Dianne
Aug 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting premise but unconvincing to me. I do not see capitalism as "newly free societies." In actuality, the descriptions of people scrambling to make money is not freedom. I also have been reading Second Hand Time: The Last of the Soviets by Svetlana Alexievich which gives me a better picture of the readjustments made by people living under Communism.
Michael Lovito
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first half of this book details the banning of training bears to dance in Hungary, and the effects it had on both the trainers and the bears themselves. The trainers think that their way of life is being destroyed and that they, people who cared for these animals their entire lives, are unjustly painted as monsters. Meanwhile, the bears themselves have to be taught to live in the wild which, given their abnormal diets, lack of teeth, and lack of socialization with other bears, is hard to do. ...more
Kelly
Jan 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dancing Bears is an interesting piece of investigative journalism. Polish reporter Witold Szablowski tackles the subject of communism by comparing its collapse to the end of bear keeping in Bulgaria. Both survivors - bear or person - are physically free in that they are not enslaved to a regime or owner. Emotional freedom, as it turns out, is much harder to grant.

Szablowski makes a point to interview citizens from several communist countries - Estonia, Ukraine, Cuba, and Bulgaria. Their unhappi
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John Ronald
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author is a Polish journalist who covered the story of the last "Dancing Bears" of Bulgaria, trained by Roma bearkeepers. The practice was eventually outlawed and a foreign NGO took as its mission taking care of and trying to restore these bears back to a more natural, non-exploitative way of life. He devotes a considerable part of the text telling the details of this story, the NGO representative's negotiations with the Roma owners of the bears, a little of the history of trained bears in B ...more
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Witold Szabłowski is an award-winning Polish journalist. At age twenty-five he became the youngest reporter at the Polish daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza’s weekly supplement, Duży Format, where he covered international stories in countries including Cuba, South Africa, and Iceland. His features on the problem of illegal immigrants flocking to the EU won the European Parliament Journalism Prize; hi ...more