Month: July 2011

Our ballerinas



    These lovelies were proud members of the groups from San Felipe. In the five to six days that led up to Monday’s show, these girls managed to learn three separate routines from several different choreographers. This picture is the epitome of excitement little ballerinas everywhere get to experience before their big moment on stage.

     What you don’t know is that the photographer of this particular photo is also a young member of the San Felipe ensemble. Throughout our time in Panama, whether it was at rehersal or the theater, the children were well-aware of all the photos being taken of them. They loved posing for our pictures and revelled at the thought of seeing their images on our cameras.

     As the girls were getting ready for the ballet piece that Monday, the dressing room was a-buzz with too-too’s and glitter. One of the San Felipe girls saw me taking pictures with my digital Kodak, and the next thing I know, I’m getting a tap on my shoulder, “Profe’.” She proceeded to shape her hands as if she was taking a picture herself in an apparent request to assume my position behind the camera.

     After about 20 minutes had gone by, I found my substitute photographer and started to review her work. Don’t you know this girl took almost 100 pictures in 20 minutes!! Thank goodness I had purchased a new memory card the day before, ’cause she made sure all her friends were accounted for, including all of their mothers who were there helping out. She was also able to employ the black & white option on the camera, effectively as seen above!


¡Que sopá!

Back in the States… booking clients… avoiding traffic… surrounded by “stuff” and “things”… noticing how few people greet me on the streets… missing the sincerity & simplicity that brings me peace in Panamá!


Fundacion San Felipe!

I’ve been fortunate enough to stay a couple extra days in Casco Viejo! The city is so small that I’m constantly expecting to see the girls we worked with around town… yesterday I saw 4 of the children, 3 moms, 1 aunt and a grandma! Such a joy to hug them in the street!!! Today I’ll be returning to San Felipe to watch the ballet class… I just hope not to be a major distraction, but I’m so happy to see those smiles once again! I’ll hug them twice for all of you, Movement Exchange! T.Q.M. ~Carina


Day 9&10…It All Comes to an End…

Early yesterday morning we woke up and headed out to Lake Gatun for our last day in Panama. When we arrived at the dock we waited for Captain Carl to pick us up and take us to the houseboat where we would be spending our last night. On the way, he took us on a tour of the canal and all the surrounding areas. During the ride, we stopped twice and captain Carl gave us the chance to feed bananas and peanuts to wild monkeys. Soon after we arrived at the houseboat we choose our rooms, set down our luggage and ran upstairs to claim our hammocks, which provided us with a perfect view of the lake. We all took a short nap and were happy to wake up and see that we were being served a delicious lunch. Shortly after eating we all went kayaking through the jungle with captain Carl. Though it was challenging and there were many bugs and critters jumping all over us, we eventually made our way to a beautiful waterfall where we were able to jump off and swim for a while. The trip back to the houseboat was easier because we finally figured out how to maneuver the kayak. When we arrived back we stayed in the water to swim and jump off the top of the houseboat. Once again we found ourselves relaxing in the hammocks drifting off to sleep with the sound of a wild jungle in the background. We woke up and waited for some of the group to come back from fishing, and enjoyed our final dinner together while watching a slide show that Erick prepared recapturing our last 10 days. Next Captain Carl took us on a night crocodile hunt! After about 30 minutes of searching we finally found a baby “crocky” and named OSCAR! He was passed around the boat and began to get antsy, so Andi returned him back to his home. At the end of the night we all crammed into our room with a few of our fellow dance volunteers, and played UNO until we all were deliriously tired! The next morning we woke up to a gorgeous rainstorm that we could see right outside our room. A fresh breakfast was awaiting us as our group had the final chance to reflect on all that we had done these past ten days. We packed our stuff, took pictures, took our final swings in the hammocks and said goodbye to our houseboat and to Andi and Sheena who were staying on the houseboat for an extra day.  On our way to the airport we stopped for fruit, salads, and snacks for the rest of the afternoon, picked up our luggage at the hostel and rushed to Casco Viejo for our last trip to the ice cream shoppe!! There we said goodbye to Audrey and Carina who were staying in the city for an extra day.  Finally at the airport, we checked in, had lunch, and right before we went to the gates were surprised by Juan, who just came to see us take off.

We are now on our way home, these are our final thoughts:


This entire trip was a complete eye-opening experience to see how the other half-lives. With this, seeing the kids made me evaluate my own out look on life, due to how happy they were without having half of the opportunities/experiences as I have had. I feel so blessed that I was able to partake in the experience. –Ari


This trip has been an amazing life changing experience. I feel so blessed to have met new people and to have had the chance to work with such amazing kids. This experience has helped me open my eyes to the world around me and has taught me to take in everything, even if they may be out of my comfort zone.        -Lianna


I feel blessed that I got the chance to experience this trip not only with my family, but also with strangers who eventually became a part of that family. We all shared dance in common, and I couldn’t be more happy that we all got to share and exchange that passion with the kids in panama. Seeing those kids smile just because your loving and caring for them, made me see life in a new perspective and I definitely feel so thankful for everything including family and friends.         –Brittany


This entire trip has made me feel so incredibly blessed. It definitely reminded me that I am very fortunate to live the way I’ve lived. I am so thankful to have had the chance to work with those girls, who I consider a part of me now. This experience is not something you can explain in words, it’s something you have to partake in to fully understand. The girls at Malambo did so much more than learn a dance from me; they taught me that even though life may bring you down, there is always a reason to smile. It was amazing to be able to step out of the rush of life back at home, and really examine what’s important and what’s not. I am so thankful that I was able to go on this journey, and I will forever treasure it.            –Robyn


Who knew a 10 day trip would cause so many emotions.  Panama and I have formed a bond that no one can ever understand.  I never imagined how close I would get to every aspect of Panama: the beautiful architecture, the community events, the delicious food, the friendly Panamanians, and most importantly, every child that I worked with.  Letting go has been the hardest part, and I can't wait to reunite with it all next year!  Thank you Panama, I'll never forget you! -Chip (Pepitas)


As always, Panama is a special place for me.  And as we settle back into the lives that we are accostumed to, I challenge all of our family and friends to live life completely, take the time to admire the world in which we live, smile at a stranger, and give back to your community….

Thanks for following our 2011 Panama Experience!  -Miss T

Day 8: Don’t Blink!!!


Today we woke up bright and early for a morning hike for a view of Panama City.

Our bus was sadly to big to drive us up to the top of the hill, so we had to make our way up the mountain by foot…in the heat…sweating like

pigs. It took a long time to get up to the top, and back down, but in the end

It was a beautiful site we saw.


Although we had a nice morning hike, it was unfortunately our last day with the girls. So, we ate lunch at Malambo and throught we would be able to spend time with them but after only a couple minutes at their casa we were rushed away…”don’t blink”!


We then left and made our way to the National Theatre to block our dance for

Diguar. The moment we stepped foot off of our bus, we knew the theatre was going to be something we’ve never seen before. It was the most gorgeous, awe-inspiring, amazing theatre we have ever danced in. It was so nice to walk in and already have the lights hung and multiple dressing rooms for everyone to have their own space.  Words can’t explain the detail and beauty of the inside of the theatre.


Then we blocked all of our dances, which wasn’t really blocking because we ran all of the dances once…just once. This was something odd to us because we are used to hours, hours, and hours of blocking in the theater with Ms. T.  After we finished blocking, it was make-up and hair time. We started doing all our babies make-up and hair and then we did our own. After that, it was time to perform! All of our performances, which included our babies, our senior memories routine, all of the other choreographers’ dances, and Diguar’s dance, went amazing, but it felt like only minutes before it was over…”don’t blink”!


Then it was time to saw goodbye…which was the hardest part. Although we were so used to saying bye to the girls everyday this time it was harder because we knew that tomorrow we would not see their little faces.  There is no guarantee in life, no one knows what their future holds…we tried so hard to hold onto this one moment as long as possible, but within a blink our little dancers were gone…


After the wonderful performance, we had a little reception and got to hang out with our new family and the other dancers that performed with us.  But that too went by extremely fast. We had pizza in the plaza and recounted the amazing miracle we just experienced…”don’t blink”  because it is all over.


As we sit here detailing today, it is hard to believe that 8 days have passed…we met many new people whom we now consider family…we grew so attached to 15 orphans that we now consider sisters…we shared the stage with amazing Panamanian dancers that we now consider friends…


Our lives have been changed, touched, and we all have grown.  There is just a new perspective, there is just a new outlook.  But “don’t blink” because life will pass you by!