Month: October 2012

Day 1 from Katie Smith’s Move-Ex Experience: July 2012

Day 1.5: Bienvenidos

Okay y’all, I had to blog the second part of my first day in Panamá!  

My flight got delayed about 45 minutes in Houston so that was a bummer but once we were on the 3 hour 41 minute flight they gave us a snack which was more like a dinner! Chicken burrito, salad (I didn’t eat this), baby carrots with ranch, and a brownie. Score!

I watched the free movie “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,” actually really enjoyed it.  We landed over the beautiful city lights (I love flying into cities at night time) went through customs (forever long) and then I got my bag.  After going through the scanner I walked around the corner to a HUGE crowed of Panamanians with signs.  I wedged through the people and saw “Katie Smith” well I am pretty sure that is the most exotic name ever, so it must be me my driver is looking for.  

I smile “hola!” and he goes off in a rant of spanish.
“Um… hablas tu ingles?”
“nooo…”
“oh.”

that was the end of that.  actually he asked if he was taking me to the Magnolia Inn and if that was correct.
“si!” (I am basically bilingual!)

“como te llames?”
“José”
“me llamo es katarina”

Just me and José riding in the shuttle. Quite.  And alone. :/

We rode through downtown Panamá and then the city changed quickly to old Panamá, Casco Viejo. We rode past old homes, people cooking dinner, dancing in the street, armed guards, cobble stone roads, and up tight alleyways.  We stopped in a sketchy area but a beautiful one.  I paid José and as I was going to get out, he yelled at me and I knew he wanted me to stay in the van and put my money away. Opps!  I walked up the alley to the door of the Magnolia Inn and Hostel and rang a button on an old steel gate.  José waited as I was buzzed in.  

I walked up a flight of stairs and was greeted by a bubbly and sweet Mei-Ling (our coordinator from the US to Panamá) right away I felt so at home and relaxed! She gave me a big smile and bigger hug.  We had a 12 bed hostel room at the inn (it’s a hostel), and there are small bathrooms (you can put the toilet paper in the toilet not the trash!!! Everywhere else in Panamá you put toilet paper in the trash) and there are separate showers stalls.  There is also a large kitchen and relaxation area and an upstairs balcony and space to work on our choreography with the children!  It is super clean and there is wi-fi and outlets with a light on each bed. 

I got the run down of how the week is going to go and I am getting SO excited to share all these activities with you!

Bienvenidos a Panamá!

Day 1: Flying Solo

Well here starts the beginning of my adventures in Panama!!!

I woke up before the sun at 4:15am to drive to the airport, check my FREE bag (thanks united) and board by 6:30am.  The flight was only two hours to Houston and I woke up just in time to prepare for landing.

Currently, I am waiting for my connecting flight to Panama for the next 3 hours… what fun airport people spotting is!

Here is a quick picture of my packing adventures last night:

I have quite a lot of flight experience for a 22 year old student flying UT-SC at least 2 times a year.

Airports Visited:
Orange County, CA/ Las Vegas, NV/ Phoenix, AZ/ SLC, UT/ Denver, CO/ Houston, TX/ Dallas, TX/ ATL, GA/ Columbia, SC/ Greenville, SC/ Charleston, SC/ Augusta, GA/ Orlando, FL/ Charlotte, NC/ Baltimore, MD/ Chicago, IL/ Minneapolis, MN/ LaGuardia, NY/ Cancun, Mexico

Two Things You Should Know About Me When I Fly:
1. I HATE PACKING. 
2. I LOVE Starbucks White Hot Chocolate

Cameron (my sweet husband) and I have packing down to a system.  Basically, I pick out everything I want to bring and organize it on the bed…. He makes it fit 🙂 What a perfect relationship!  

Well, I’m gonna grab some grub. Stay tuned for more!
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Day 2 from Katie Smith’s Move-Ex Experience: July 2012

Day 2: I Poo Unicorns

Drip. Drip. Drip. (broken ac)
6:00am alarm goes off.
7:15am came early after the long day of flying.  I ate Cherrios, a banana, and the rest of my Starbucks iced lemon pound cake. 

We were off in the bus by 8:30am to drive to Chepo, a small city in Panamá, where we would meet 40 children that are part of a organization that has a small (after school type) program that teaches dance! Muy Bueno!

We decided that we would split into three groups of volunteers to start a carousel of 30 minute interval dance classes.  I taught in group uno, ballet of course! There was also a jazz group and a salsa group!


The serendipity was that los niños lit up my morning.  Amazing capacity for focus and love came from these young bodies as we taught dance and movement.  It came a lot easier than I thought to teach dance in another language.  Basically, all we do is count and talk about body parts and say to watch me or follow what I am doing.  It was so amazing to see that dance can be a strong connecting foundation for the language barrier between Spanish and English.

Today wasEl Día del Niño (The Day of Children) and the hospitable people surprised us with unch (rice and beans) and cake! I also tried REALLY sweet pear juice! Ai ai ai! Anna (the amazing lady that started Movement Exchange – ME) found a sweet crocodile jaw by the river where we were teaching; um yeah let’s talk about how cool it was to teach ballet outside in the jungle of Panama by a river! Basically I loved Chepo!

Next we rode back to the hostel and grabbed our swim suits.  We hopped on a new bus with René, and rode to Malambo – the orphanage that ME often works with.  It is primarily run by Catholic nuns and houses  about 100 boys and girls from birth to 18, 23 are HIV positive.  We met all the kids and then took two groups to the pool on the property.  There is also a church and a school at the community. The children don’t get to swim often because their house mother has to take all the children or none AND pay very close attention to them.

For example: as soon as we got to the pool today, all the children started pointing at the center of the pool and yelling.  A boy was drowning and one of our dancers quickly jumped in and grabbed him.  He had swallowed A LOT of water and started throwing up.  Luckily one of our 12 volunteers is not only a doctor but a surgeon.  We didn’t have to go that far, but it sure was a scare and the little boy is okay and we spent the rest of the day teaching him to swim.  

A lot of the dancers went swimming with the kids but I decided to be an on looker and play with one of the girls that didn’t have a swim suit.  Diana was looking at ‘Dora The Explorer’ English to Spanish color flash cards. She taught me Spanish and I helped her with the colors in English.  She learned ‘White’ by pointing at my skin- haha!  It was just wonderful! I also made friends with Dania and she loved taking pictures with my iphone!

After we left Malambo we stopped at a supermarket for snacks, got in trouble by the police for bringing in bookbags, got cat called, and spent $8 on 2 waters, 1 gatorade, 1 pack of oreos, 12 mini boxes of raisins, and 1 package of fresh pineapple.  Not to shabby!

In the van ride to Anna’s friend Lider’s house, everyone was asking me about being married and about being Mormon.  It was a great discussion and I loved sharing about my life and my religion, my values and what I believe.  

Lider is a Harvard graduate but Panamá native.  He is very knowledgeable about plants and wildlife conservation.  Unlike most of Panamá, he lives on a huge plot of land.  He has two large homes in the middle of the rain forest that overlooks the ocean.   He has hundreds of naturally growing orchards and little poison frogs everywhere (black with green polka dots) and noni.  He has a small stream running through the grounds that used to have a crocodile living in it and a cobble stone bridge pathway.  There was a gorgeous pool that we were able to relax by and discuss the day and our plan for the week.  Lider told us about the culture and background of Panamá and the way that it broke the connection between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

We left Lider’s house and came back to the hostel, changed and went out to eat at Café Coca Cola that was around years ago, even Cuban Fidel Castro ate there.  Dinner was delicious (Panamanian queso e flan for dessert) and very cheap and we got to experience and be immersed in the true Panamanian lifestyle.  

Small notes from today that I would like to remember:
*Dance is a small community and my new friend Typhani did her master’s in dance with BYU faculty member Kori Wakamatsu
*Typhani is also probably the complete opposite of me but I love her and she likes to tease me about all the funny quirks Mormons have.  (we have a ton!) she says that I poop unicorns because I am so sweet.  she calls me princess (but in a good way).  she thinks i don’t fart (i kind of don’t, ask Cam).  She is one of the most interesting people I have ever come across, I love her story, her passion and ambition for dance and for life.  She is very empowered and I love her laugh!
*I also met Carina who teaches ballroom.  She now works with Panamá’s ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and when I told her that I had doubled emphasized in Ballroom and Ballet at BYU, she knew all about BYU’s ballroom program and the directors and how wonderful it all is.  She was telling everyone that it was the only collegiate ballroom program in the US and I think she said world – but I wasn’t sure.
*Today at Malambo, we were being introduced to everyone and a little girl quietly slipped around the corner and started hugging me from behind.  I hadn’t even seen her and started to cry from the love this complete stranger was giving to me and the love that she so greatly needed in return.  I love these children and it is only day two.
This is Dania 🙂

Day 3 from Katie Smith’s Move-Ex Experience: July 2012

Day 3: Bon Kiki

This morning I woke up pretty early at 5:00am and did not feel very well.  OH NO! This can’t happen on day 3!  Luckily, I got to sleep in till 9am and when I woke up, ate my Cherrios and toast, I felt much better.

We were off at 9:30am in our big yellow school bus/van to The University of Panamá were the lovely Typhani (that I spoke off yesterday) would be teaching us, as well as the dance students at the university, a two hour jazz/contemporary class.

Before class, a United States representative from the Embassy in Panamá came to see what we were up to. They have been huge supporters of Movement Exchange since day 1, three years ago.

Typhani was AMAZING! We did a typical jazz/cardio warm up and then progressed through across the floor work, turns, and finished with learning a great combo to “Someone Like You”.  It was a very small space for 30 dancers to being turning, leaping, and kicking.  We almost died! Okay, not really, but it was a tight space. I did rock it out a few time with some great turns. The students were so eager to see new movement that they were not use to and continued to want to perform in groups and practice.  What dedication! It makes me want to try so much harder in dance classes to really appreciate the gifted and talented dance teachers we have in the states.

One of the guys was very tall and I kicked him! Opps! However, he spoke great English and we were able to communicate my apologizes.  The volunteers call him my ‘boyfriend’ because he would keep talking to me and was always my partner when we did the routine in pairs.  Sorry Cam, I guess I’m gonna run off with some young, half black Panamanian dude.  Haha!
We hopped back into the big amarillo van and drove back to Casco Viejo.  On the way I got to talk with Typhani more about her life story.  I love learning about people!

6 members of the group got their lunch on the bus and went to work at Malambo Orphanage from 1-3pm.
The other half of us ate lunch (chicken, rice, lentils, and plantains) at the hostel, prepped for our class, and 2 volunteers went to Hogar.  The other 3 of us (my group, Brigitte & Blair) walked to Fundacion San Felipe right around the corner from our hostel. It is a beautiful open space that has a great program set up for the children.  We were expecting a lot of students but they slowly trickled in to be about 15 girls, plus one boy.

We started off class with names and introductions!  I am so excited to be getting better at speaking Spanish with everyone here!  We began by playing a tangle game that got everyone up and interacting. Then, I led the class in a fun and unique ballet warm-up that introduced the 6 ballet positions and stretched and warmed up our legs.  We were excited that they were quickly learning the positions and movement.  Next, we worked across the floor with skipping and partnering.  For example: we would have person 1 walk out and make a shape then their partner, person two, would go make another shape around them and it continued on across the floor.  After we played a freeze dance, first solo, then with partners, and finally as a group.  We would play the music and when it stopped you had to pose with the word we yelled out:  Big. Small. Tall. Circle etc. Last, we played a mirroring game with partners.  One lead with a body part and the partner had to mirror them very carefully and they each choreographed a short phrase and performed it in front of the class.  Muy Bueno! I helped finish off the class with some leg stretches, frog leaps, and some creative movement.  

We had two kids (one was the boy) in the group that supposedly were not in the program but we for sure let them dance with us! They were very shy and I had to persuade them to let go and be silly and have fun.  By the end of class they were smiling and laughing and dancing so fun and goofy! LOVE THEM!

I think that all the kids really loved having us and when we finished, I let down my hair and they girls flocked to me and began touching my hair! So precious!

We walked back to the hostel, got ‘barked’ at?, and jumped in the van to head off to a class at Escuela nacional de Danza (The National Dance School).  Blair from our group taught a two hour modern/contact improv class to the school of ballet dancers.  They got SO much out of it! It was great to see some of the same movement that I had learned in my modern dance classes and master classes at BYU being taught by a California native.  Dance- a small world.

My partner spoke English which made me ONE HAPPY GIRL! Her name was Kiki and I love her! She is an amazing ballerina in the third level of the school and makes me smile!

Typhani began to call me ‘Glitter” (because now I poo glitter) but said that wasn’t pretty enough and named me ‘mariposa’ which means ‘butterfly’.

After teaching and class we split up into two groups and walked to dinner.  I decided to head with three other girls to a cafe  down the street.  I got a yummy fresh deli sandwich with a sweet apple sauce on it and I also bought a croissant and strawberry mentos! We got picked up by one of the dance teachers which was so nice that we didn’t have to walk back to the school in the dark.  

Family: I promise that I am being safe!

When we got back to the school we had a two hour rehearsal with Diguar Sapi that is setting choreography on us to be performed at the National Theater of Panamá on Sunday! So exciting.  Diguar does really intense choreo but doesn’t care about technical differences and levels.  He is very into indigenous movement and culture and about preserving the culture in here in Panamá and preserve their language, culture, and dress.  He isn’t very strict and likes for you to make the movement your own.  A lot of his movement is based Kuna indigenous dance that is a proud culture.

Basically, he kicked our trash! We were so tired after a long but beautiful day of movement, people, children, and culture.  We drove back home on our big new bus and spent the night watching videos and seeing all the talent that this program has brought together. 

Oh yeah, pretty sure that I sprained my left ankle today… I have a bug bite on it the size of South Carolina and can’t tell if the pain is from that or if I really did sprain it.  Time will tell.

I am so so grateful to be in this program, with these people, and in this country.  I want to always remember the feelings that I have here and never take the things that my country has for granted. 

Day 4 from Katie Smith’s Blog Move-Ex July 2012

Day 4: Onion Soup

Today was a day of rest for all the dance volunteers and MUCH needed!  We were pretty tired from our full day of 4 classes yesterday.

We woke up at 9-9:30am and got dressed to walk down to ‘Super Gourmet.’ It was delicious and I got two fresh blueberry muffins and dear Paige surprise bought me a chocolate chip cookie that I had been eyeing.  After the café we went to the square to go shopping.  We all got matching ‘I ❤ Panama’ bracelets to unite us on this trip!  I also bought a new pink thread bracelet that I love!  The market was fun and a lot of the vendors spoke English but they almost all had the same things, just for different prices.

We came back to the hostel and tragedy hit my soul.  I was looking for some pictures on facebook when I got a message from my sister Cadey informing me that my dance teacher of six years past away this morning.

Today I wrote:

Mr. Crosby lived a valued life as a person and teacher. He was my ballet teacher for six years, but was so much more than that. He taught me a solid foundation of ballet technique and appreciation of dance and art. Crosby always had a joke up his sleeve to pull out for you.  My fondest memory is of Mr. Crosby always calling my best friend, Cadey Carroll, and I his ‘two girlfriends.’  We talked today and both feel that he was more than a teacher; he was like a granddad to us.  Mr. Crosby also taught me so much more than dance. He taught me that I can take on any challenge, he taught me hard work, and under his criticism, jokes, and guidance that I am a strong person. With those lessons, Crosby instilled in me a passion that has led me to graduate in dance with a double emphasis in ballet and ballroom from Brigham Young University.  I am now currently in Panamá teaching underprivileged orphans those same lessons that Crosby taught me. I find it fitting that on the last day of his life I am teaching dance in a third world country, utilizing the talents he helped me express. Thank you Mr. Crosby, for everything. I will miss you, so very much.

A small tribute to Mr. Crosby’s life (written by Jaimee Weigle): 
Carl Crosby trained as a professional dancer in New York City and graced the stages of Broadway. He was the artistic director of the Aiken Civic Ballet Company for more than 30 years, and he was honored by then-Gov. Jim Hodges for his contributions to the art. He has taught thousands of students since arriving in Aiken in the late 1940s, and more than 30 of them have gone on to dance professionally.
After our break, we left for lunch at and Italian place ‘Café Per Due’.  So exciting to see a native Italian woman open a pizza restaurant in Panamá of all places! Lunch was delicious and although the margherita pizza wasn’t actually mozzarella cheese it was still pretty legit.

The two Malambo groups headed off to teach at the orphanage as well as the group teaching at Hogar.  Our group of three had an extra 30 minutes before we had to walk to the center to begin class.

My ankle is looking better and you can finally see my medial malleolus again!

We walked down to Fundacion San Felipe.  Last night, Anna, and I talked a lot about my ballroom background and she got excited about maybe doing a short ballroom number with our girls and some boys from Hogar.  When we got to the center she brought over three boys!  I picked Crystal (10) and Jaimee (11) to be my ballroom girls and I would be in the dance with the kids to make them feel more comfortable.  Anna helped me so much with translating and getting the boys excited about the performance.  The girls are really great at knowing what I want to say in Spanish and teaching me the language.  I almost spoke completely in Spanish today with them AND thanks to Anna!  It was so fun to again see that the language barrier can be a challenge but it’s a good challenge.  I loved being able to learn a new language and help the kids see what fun Cha Cha can be and the difference between being feminine and masculine and the roles that you take on in a dance.

Although my day teaching went really well, my other two group members had a rough day.  They now have mostly younger girls, a boy that (isn’t suppose to be there) and one or two older girls that didn’t show interest.  They tried to get one girl to participate and she said she was said because her Mom hits her.  What a tragic thing to hear and be able to do nothing about it in this country and situation we are in.  They told her she was a great and beautiful dancer and she smiled and started to participate more.  It really broke their spirits though and made a hard day even more trying.

The girls brought us snacks of apple juice and wafers to say thank you and we walked back to the hostel.  I felt that I had abandoned my group with only three days left of practice and now this new challenge they had to face. They were worried about choreography, our time constraint, and even if the kids will show up at the performance.

We came home to reflect and brainstorm some ideas and then took a break for snacks.  I ate toast 🙂  Paige (gina) and Mei-Ling went upstairs to practice Diguar’s choreography and then we headed off to our 2 hour rehearsal. It was a lot better than yesterday and I caught on to the choreography a lot better today. Thank goodness!  It is so helpful to have his assistants teaching us and communicating the dance and phrasing with us.  
 
We got home and decided to go out and grab some grub.  I wasn’t too hungry but I was having a sweet tooth attack so I got flan and ice cream with dolce de leche! The flan actually wasn’t very good but the ice cream and dolce de leche was TO DIE FOR! I also found a kitten and played with her!

We came back and reflected on the days ups and downs.  There is some contentious feelings but I think everything will work out and the show and presentation will be great!  We always talk about the ‘Apple’ or good thing of the day and the ‘Onion’ or bad thing from the day.  Today, Dr. Jen said that she was going to take her onion and turn it into onion soup and make something good out of it.  Her and Lili have 21 boys at Hogar that are FULL of energy and typical boys.  God bless the girls because they need it working with those rascals!  I love Lili and Dr. Jen’s enthusiasm about the day and working with such a hard group!

My ankle is doing much better and luckily Carina Fourmyle (our ballroom dancing friend/ physical therapist) rubbed out my back and gave me a jar of Arnik which is a flower cream that helps speed up heeling for sprains! Yay!

We stayed up late talking about life/religion/trials/etc.  I really feel like I have known these girls my whole life not just 4 days! Crazy, I know but it is great to have so many similar interests and diverse lifestyles but be able to understand and appreciate where we have all been. 

Day 5 from Katie Smith’s Move-Ex Experience July 2012

Day 5: A True Exchange

This morning we had to be up and out of the hostel by 9:30am for our second class at the University of Panamá.  I had stayed up late last night finishing my blog post for the day and talking with friends, then had to shower and still get ready for bed.  Needless to say, I was pretty tired this morning.  A lot of the girls, including myself, were sore from two full days of dancing and a Go! Go! Go! schedule.

So, my ankle looked a lot better this morning, less swollen and only a little bruised.  BUT, I woke up to a huge swollen right knee.  What the crap, body?! Why are you starting to fail me while I am in Panamá actually doing what I love and making a difference?  Just please stop breaking, okay?

Luckily, beautiful Blair was teaching our class and decided to give us a more relaxed and less cardiovascular class by teaching us contact improv.  It was two hours of asom broso teaching! Everyone really got into the movement and theory behind it all.  I even learned how to lift this huge guy with my back! Woot go me!
After University classes we piled in the bus and got our lunches from Anna (salads and I got a sandwich).  Everyone was in a great mood and in higher spirits! 

Cool side note, I saw a chapel for our church today. Neat right!

They dropped us two groups off at the hostel and the other two drove to teach at Malambo.  I quickly burned a CD for my ballroom music and Anna walked me to pick up Jaimee and Crystal at San Felipe and then we went to meet the boys as Hogar.  While we were waiting in the plaza, a huge stormed rolled in.  It was gorgeous how quickly the sky changed to a dark grey and how much cooler the air felt.  It was wonderful.  The girls showed up just in time for us to walk and not get wet!  
I worked with the 5 kids for 2 hours practicing our Cha Cha and watching them perform.  By the end of the class they could do it pretty well without me.  I am so happy for this accomplishment with such young kids, very little time, and barely getting by with my broken Spanish.  This is truly a Movement Exchange.  When we were done we went up to the top floor of Hogar and performed for all the other boys.  They did fabulous!  

Sweet Paige, or Página, as we like to call her had brought silly band bracelets as presents for her girls at Malambo and she had three left over that I gave to my girls and a present for working so hard today with me!
The girls don’t have much and when we asked them if they had a dress that they could where for the show, they told Anna that they didn’t have anything like that.  I am planning on buying two dresses to give to them for the show as a surprise on Domingo. 🙂  

The beauty of Panamá never ceases to amaze me.  Not only the landscape and beauty but the hearts of the people and their kindness and love.  
We came home and showered to get ready to go out to eat.  Amazing enough, the restaurant was one block down the street for us to walk to.  It was a very nice restaurant with a fun atmosphere and the waiter was such a charmer.  I split cashew chicken with Olive and then got a brownie and ice cream for dessert! So delicious.  There was also little s’mores for dessert that came with a personal little grill for your marshmallow!  We were running late and ran out fast after paying our bill.

What were we late for, you ask? Dancing With The Stars live finale tapping! It was so awesome because we got tickets from Carina who works with the broadcast and danced as a choreographer in the show!  It was fun to see how everything works and cheer for random people we didn’t know while we didn’t know what anyone was saying! Ahhh! Craziness! We just would join in 110% yelling and laughing and booing, basically whatever the people around us did we chimed in too!  Poor Paige got hit with the camera flying in and out to video and we photo bombed the winners pictures!

After the show we headed back to the restaurant we ate dinner at for a rooftop after party.  What fun to spend a night out like a true Panamania!  Staying up late is going to take it’s toll on us so I am gonna head to bed! Goodnight Panamá!

Day 6 from Katie Smith’s Move-Ex Experience: July 2012

Day 6: Piso, Peso, Paso, Peso

Floor, Weight, Step, Money.

This morning everyone wanted to just stay in bed and cuddle.  We were all so tired from the fiesta we had last night at Tantalo.  Our first class in this morning was cancelled so we decided to all just hang out until lunch at 11:30.

We went to take a group picture in our new Movement Exchange logo tanks and then went back to ‘Super Gourmet’ around the corner for lunch and it was great just like last time.  I had a turkey sandwich on a baguette, V8 Splash, and one delicious chocolate chip cookie!  It was crazy hot today and it felt so nice to be in the cool air conditioning of the café.  The owner is an American named Blaine and we love him, mainly because he speaks English and might be easy on the eyes so we tried to set him up with Mama T. to only find out that he is happily married.  haha
After lunch we went back to the hostel and while we were gone, they had gotten robbed.  A homeless man and seen the door left unlocked and open and came in and took the owners purse sitting on the desk and ran off.  We felt so bad but luckily nothing else was bothered.  Then the Malambo groups headed off in their bus. I got my things together for my class and left by myself (since I teach alone) to walk to San Felipe.  Okay, now picture one cute and very white chica walking two blocks to the foundation.  Seems fine right.  Middle of the day, I know where I am going and feel very confident until the retarded construction workers make me detour and I got lost.  In Panamá. Alone.  

This was my first “apple” or good thing of the day.  I stopped and asked in Spanish how to find the foundation and got directions and UNDERSTOOD them! AHHH

When I got to San Felipe the girls were there waiting and we walked part of the way with Jaimee’s mom and then split off for Hogar.  To be honest I am not scared of walking around Panamá, I actually find it quite relaxing to walk the streets of the city and immerse myself among the people.

When we got to Hogar one of my boys was not coming to practice because he was in church, well crap I was freaking out because our performance is in three days but it was our last day of practice with the boys but at the same time I couldn’t be mad that he was in church, you know!?  Anyways, I took my partner and put him with Crystal and then made the two groups do the dance with me in front by myself.  It was great to see that they didn’t need me to help them, so then I didn’t dance it but I counted it and clapped the beat.  The most amazing video ever of me yelling out commands and number in Spanish like a chica loco!  The last time that we practiced without an audience I didn’t count, dance, or give hints,  I wanted to cry I was so happy that my kids were rockin that Cha Cha Cha like pros. 

Take a non-Spanish speaking white girl, throw her in Panamá, give her three days, and five kids and you have got yourself some dancing! 🙂 

After class we quickly took off for the Escuela Nacional de Danza for Mama T. (Typhani) to teach the ballerinas a jazz class.  She did amazing as always but it was a little harder with a younger group of students that are not use to other dance forms.  Mama T. is getting really great at Spanish but today she did especially well but it was hilarious that she tried to talk about taking a step (paso), rolling to the floor (piso) and using your weight (peso).  Crazy right!?

When we came in the studio I saw Kiki again and told her that I had wrote about her on the blog and she was ecstatic and started crying and hugging me and told me how much she loved me.  Yeah I know. Now YOU know why I want to live here.
We had a break for snacks that consisted of fruit and vegetables, sandwich goods, cookies, sugar cane, Plantanitos, and lychee.  We had an hour and a half before rehearsal with Diguar and just sat/laid around and talked. I also popped everyone’s back-you know Glitter style!
We were all pretty beat from the emotions of the day and Diguar seemed to notice.  SO, he asked Mireya to do a Brazilian Afro-Cuban warm up with us! FREAK YES!  

We got started on Diguar’s piece and he started talking right to me and asking me questions… ‘si?’  
uh… I have no idea what you are saying Diguar, so yes ‘si’ haha!  He talked a lot with the group about what it meant to have a finished product and who gets to decide what is ready for the stage or not.  He is very into the process of the movement and how we are feeling in the dance and not the dance or technique itself.  This is a new experience for me because he changes his mind every other minute and changed the direction we face… uh okay cool!
We drove home and took showers and then had our reflection period which went amazing.  Everyone is feeling so positive and optimistic about their kids!

My favorite excerpt from Mama T./Savannah/and Rianna’s blog, enjoy:
On the way there one of our friends Katie (aka Glitter, unicorn, sparkles, anything sweet and corny) found a kitten and decided to chase it all over the place just to pick it up and take a picture with it.

This is true, this is true.

Day 7 from Katie Smith’s experience with Move-Ex: July 2012

Day 7: Of Course You Do

Buenos días!  This morning we left at 9:30am for our LAST class at University of Panamá with a lady that gave us a potpurri of different indigenous dances of Panamá.  It was such a different and unique experience to participate with a folklore dance form and wear fun big skirts while twirling around moving our caderas!  It was so GREAT!

After class we went to eat at ‘Penchas’ which was the biggest lunch that we have had yet.  We got the choice between shrimp or cream of corn soup, an entree of fried shrimp with rice or yuca and the option of chicken pasta.  Everyone really enjoyed the food and atmosphere. 

We hurried back to the hostel and grabbed our things while the other groups left for Malambo again.  We were running late and got to San Felipe around 2:15.  Dr. Jen and Lili didn’t have their boys today so they stayed at the hostel to relax but that meant that I didn’t have MY boys either 😦 This sweetheart below (Ande) loves to follow me around at San Felipe and is the sweetest thing ever.  He is very shy but so loving. He turns six on Sunday.
I let the girls warm up with Blair and Brigitte’s girls and then we separated to practice our dances and show them to each other.  My girls did AMAZING and were right on count with the music and remember the dance so easily it made my day!  We loved seeing the hard work that the girls and groups had put into the routines.  
Before we left San Felipe, a down pour let loose.  We waited for a while but then we had to get back and walk in the rain.  Guess who forgot her raincoat.  Moi.
We had a few hours before we left for dinner so we hit up a café and had hot chocolate with Carina and Dr. Jen.  Then, Mama T, Paige, Olive, Sav, Rianna, and I walked down to find some costumes and accessories for our girls and the performance!  It rained a lot more but this time I was prepared 🙂  I got lucky and found some cute coverups for my girls that matched flower headbands! YAY costumes check!

When we got back we all took showers to get ready to go out to ‘Beirut’ for dinner.  They specialize in Lebanese food and had a sweet belly dancing show.  That sure is one genre of dance that I haven’t tried!  It is intense and seems like one would need a lot of abdominal control.  The American Embassy joined us for dinner and one of the ladies was from South Carolina.  From Aiken. Graduated from South Aiken.  Um… let’s talk about small world! Amazing the connections made all across the world.  Some crazy men got mad that we were taking to long to eat and told us to go back to our country.  Wow, never thought I would hear that one.  Crazy men indeed. 
We decided that we would have a night for ourselves out dancing so we went to one place but Savannah and Rianna were too young so the five of us decided to leave and go to ‘Habana-Panamá’ which is an underground salsa club.  When we got there no one was dancing and we felt really lame but went out on the dance floor anyways.  Well that opened it up for everyone and couples started coming out to dance, a live band began to sing and play, as well as professional dancers on stage.  It was great to watch, but no one was asking the gringos. UNTIL, one older gentleman came and asked me to dance and completely led me through salsa and turns and was SUCH a great leader.  I was so impressed and thought it was one of the coolest things to be in an underground, local salsa club in Panamá, dancing with a super nice guy that could lead me to dance something completely foreign to me.  It was the best experience!  We of course told everyone about our show throughout the night and everyone is very eager to come watch!

We left ‘Habana-Panamá’ and went back to ‘Tantalos’ and danced and had fun in the rain on the rooftop overlooking the skyline of Panamá with a storm lighting up the sky in the distance.  What a great night and it is so fun to meet new and exciting people from all over the world with different life experiences and stories!  

*The title of this blog is an inside joke that everytime someone says something cool or neat about themselves we all say ‘Of course you do.’