Dance Around The World – Cusco, Perú

Next stop on my “Dance Around The World” adventure, Perú! For years I’ve been wanting to visit Perú to see Machu Picchu. I guess it stemmed from my Mom, a history teacher and enthusiast. Seriously, she’s a walking book of world history. Or possibly it came from my desire to see the all wonders of the world. Either way, Machu Picchu was on my list. I wasn’t counting seeing any dance, but little did I know I would experience a true Peruvian cultural dance experience, Carnival!

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Dance Around The World – Crazy Salsa!

After all the Afro-Colombian dancing I saw in the streets of Cartagena, I was inspired to dance. I knew there had to be dance studio in this city, so when I got home from the last performance, I turned to Google. The internet slowly loaded and translated my search. That’s when I found Crazy Salsa. Clicking on the link, my computer screen danced as one letter at a time popped up making their logo. I happily discovered an icon to translate their website to Spanish or English. I learned they not only taught Salsa but, Afro-Colombian and Colombian too!  I figured they must have spoken English because of the icon, and it seemed meant to be; I needed to take class there. In no time, I composed an email about my project, crossed my fingers, and pressed send.

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Dance Around The World – Antigua, Guatemala

I spent three fabulous weeks in Guatemala, most of which were in the city of Antigua. It’s one of the friendlies places I’ve ever been. Literally, everyone young and old will say good morning, afternoon, or nigh to you. Plus it’s beauty is equal to no other city in Central America.

While in Antigua, I came across dance in the streets, at my Spanish school, and even at a wine shop. Yes, there were dance schools, but it seemed silly to pay when the locals were willing to grab your hand and teach you how to dance wherever you were standing.

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Dance Around The World – Campeche, Mexico

Campeche is a beautiful colonial city found in the Yucatan Peninsula. Its history is rich with tales of pirate invasions. Around the city center, the cobblestone streets are lined with sidewalks that rise to the store fronts. In some places the sidewalks are so high above the street that steps have been added. The concrete buildings are seemly connected, creating a winding strip mall effect. Only brightly colored paint distinguishes one store front from the next.

I’m not sure if it’s typical for dancers to be clumsy, but I am! In order to manage my way around this city, I had to look where I was walking, so I wouldn’t trip. Funny enough, that’s how I discovered the Escuela Superior de Danza. Outside of the dance school’s entrance someone had carefully and clearly wrote “BALLET” in the cement. I immediately stopped, looked up, and saw the typical iron- lined window had been molded into the form of a ballerina. Peering through the open door, I saw girls of all ages dressed in their class’s colored leotards, pink tights, and identical hairband that matched their leotard. Excited and nervous, I stepped inside the studio’s lobby.

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Dance Around The World – Mérida, Mexico

After a night’s stay on Isla Mujeres, a small island across from Cancun, my dance and world journey began. In the mid-afternoon, my husband and I boarded a very frigid ADO bus for a four hour ride to the city of Merida. Our plan was to visit the famous Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and to stay in Merida, since it was recommended for its beauty.

It was Sunday when we arrived in Merida and just in time for dinner. I couldn’t wait to get off the bus, find a hotel, and sleep off my raging migraine. The only thing that stopped me from going to bed was my stomach yearning for food. We quickly dropped off our backpacks and set out to find something to eat.

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The Dance Around The World – Adventure Begins

My travels have just begun, and I can’t tell you how extremely nervous I was that I might not find dance anywhere. I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve read about how dance is dying; even with televised success of shows like “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Dancing WithThe Stars.” What if dance was dying and all we had as human culture was football and soccer?!

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Dance Around The World – La Bailarín De Antigua

One night after dinner my housemates at the B&B couldn’t stop talking about this dancer. For the past three weeks, each of them had seen this blonde woman dancing around Antigua. They joked that she never walked, but danced from place to place. They speculated about where she was from and why she was dancing. It was then they named her “The Dancer of Antigua.” Secretly I was jealous, How could I have missed her? This would be perfect for my project! I only had two more days in Antigua: tomorrow, which I had already scheduled a cooking class and the night after returning from Lake Atitlan, which only left a few hours to possible find her. I started to give up all hope.

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No More Makeup Running Down My Face

I always want to look my best, even if I’m sweating all day. But, at the end of a long day my makeup never seems to stay put. From working to teaching, my eye makeup always runs down my face. Sometimes, when I get home, I look like I’ve got two black eyes. That was until I found this fabulous product called Stay Don’t Stray by Benefit, a cosmetics company. Just dab a little of the “stay-put primer” around your eyes, then put your eye makeup on, and presto… You’ll look fabulous all day!

Enjoy!

Young Dancers and Food

I like to start my dance classes off with a terminology game, a little history, or sometimes I just ask a question. Not long ago I asked my students, “If you could have one superpower, what would it be?” I heard everything from the power to fly to understand and speaking to animals. But, the one I remember most was from a girl nearly 8 years old. She wanted the the power to eat as much junk food as she wanted without gaining a single pound.

 

Her response stunned me and I thought immediately… I’ve got to figure out how to teach my students about nutrition! Ironically this months Dance Teacher magazine had an article with some suggestions and ideas about teaching nutrition. However, I struggle with how the information will transfer. It’s one thing to inform my students, but how can I stop their parents from sending them to dance class with a bag fast food or giving their child money for the vending machines? Some of my students are so young and can’t see the effects of what junk and processed food does to their body. In fact, they might not have noticed how it makes them feel aside from their mouth watering at the mention of french fries.

Artwork by Andy Council

 

So my plan of attack is to start a conversation with my students. I want to know what they perceive as junk food verses healthy food. With that information I’m hoping to figure out how to approach this subject on their terms. I like the idea of a Jeopardy style game, an eat this, not that demonstration, but I think my strongest superpower will be getting them to notice how junk food makes them feel. Stay tuned to learn how my quest to teach nutrition goes! 


P.S. Do you have any suggestions, tips, or tricks? Let me know, I’d love to hear your thoughts.