Dance of the Bear:
Legend of The Shpoler Zeide
Experience laughter, drama and intrigue!
Go back in time. Immerse yourself in a world that is normally shrouded in mystery.
Your journey through this room begins in a nondescript Ellis Island office, complete with the now-famous suitcases. But the documents, photographs and inscriptions scattered throughout the room conceal centuries of history.
Decipher the clues to learn the story of the Polonsky family’s journey from Europe to America as you reconstruct their family tree.
But wait! The journey isn’t over yet.
Put the last piece in the tree and a door swings open, leading you farther back to meet Dr. Paull’s ancestry - enter the world of the legendary wandering mystic, the Shpoler Zeide!
Touch his dusty tomes on the shelves and play a part in redeeming an innocent captive, right here! (Yes, there is some mystical dancing involved!)
Will you figure out the clues in time to save an innocent prisoner?
We really had to use our noggins to figure this one out and just in the nick of time with seconds left on the clock. [We] really felt as if we were back in time and part of the experience. We also learned a few lessons during our journey. [What] a memorable, fun and exciting experience!
- Stanley Jacobs
Backstory: The Legend of the Dancing Bear
The Shpola Zeide was legendary for his fiery love of people. One day he heard that a man was thrown to a dungeon by a local nobleman for not being able to pay his rent.
This particular nobleman was known to starve his prisoners and then force them into a dance competition with a fearsome Cossack guard while wearing a heavy bearskin. If the prisoner collapsed first, it meant he was guilty and would be beaten to death. If the Cossack fell first, the prisoner goes free. Nice deal.
Of course, no starved prisoner stood a chance! The Cossacks were powerful warriors and athletic dancers with tremendous energy to boot!
The next morning, the guards arrived to bring the prisoner to the fateful dance-off. They threw a bearskin into the dungeon, waited for the prisoner to don the skin and hauled him up with a rope. But they did not know that the Shpoler Zeide had secretly switched places with the prisoner. Who else would willingly enter that awful dungeon?
The prisoner wearing in his bear ski was led to the Great House of the nobles, where a drinking party was in full swing. Everyone hooted and jeered when he came in. The band started to play and the Cossack danced.
And the Zeide danced too!
People were surprised to see that they were evenly matched. The Cossack danced again, and the prisoner danced as well. Hours passed as the band played song after song. Never had a prisoner danced so hard and so excellently. Never before had a Cossack met his match!
By now the guests had stopped laughing and sat there stunned.
Finally the musicians got tired, and the Cossack dancer was close to collapsing. Not so the Zeide under the bear skin, picking up the 'Cosacka' melody and dancing as he had never danced before!
The band picked up with renewed vigor, and the tune accelerated rapidly.
"Hop Cozzack!" the Shpola Zeide cried ('Jump, Cossack!)', swinging his arms and kicking his feet, as he continued to dance with astonishing ease. Suddenly the Cossack dancer's cruel heart gave out and he fell to the ground, dead. This is how the Shpola Zeide won "The Bear Dance," and the hapless prisoner was spared. You will be able to dance to that exact melody!
Backstory: Dr. Jeffrey Paull’s Family Tree
The escape room dramatizes the genealogical discoveries made by Dr. Jeffrey Mark Paull in his quest to reconnect with his family’s long-lost noble heritage. Paull captured his experiences in a volume called "A Noble Heritage." The stranger-than-fiction, but true, plot weaves genealogy, history, sacrifices and miracles. This book served as the inspiration for the Dance of the Bear experience.