Month: March 2014

Perfect ending to the perfect week. Day 7 in Panama!!

We started off the day bright and early again with another flying low class. We did some energy work and explored the idea of gathering and sending your energy again. He also talked a lot about being aware of your body, especially your feet and your focus. One of the great things that we did in the class was say what we were doing. So for example, he would have us say “gathering” when we were gathering our energy, “sending” when we were sending our energy, and “pies pies” (“foot foot”) when he wanted us to touch our feet and be award of how they were working.  Your body really does respond when you tell it what to do and being able to vocalize our movements was really helpful. We don’t really do too much vocalizing in my dance program back home so it was definitely a new and enlightening experience for me!
Then we drove off to the university for the last time. We took a Panamanian folkloric class taught by the director of the dance program at the University. It was great to learn more about the Panamanian folk dances and to be able to learn the steps themselves. The woman wore absolutely exquisite (and extremely expensive) outfits that really made them feel beautiful while they were dancing. Although we didn’t quite wear the full outfits, they gave us skirts to wear during the class and I really had a lot of fun with mine. Its not very often I get to take a dance class with a long skirt down to my ankles. 🙂
We had our last lunch at the University and went to the BEACH!! I hadn’t been to the beach in a really, really long time so I really enjoyed the water and being out in the sun. It was a nice relaxing part of our day. After that we went to a friend of Carina’s house and it was absolutely beautiful. I’m so grateful he allowed us into his beautiful home and let us have a bit of a relaxing time at the pool. He taught us about the importance of Panama and how it connects North America and South America. Without Panama, life on earth would be completely different. The formation of Panama and the connection it formed allowed species to move across the Americas and evolve. I’m currently taking bio 2 right now and we’re on the evolution unit in class so it was awesome to make the connection between some things I have been learning in class and understand how important Panama was in the diversity of life.
Today really was the perfect ending to the perfect week. It was great being able to relax on our last day in Panama and take advantage of this beautiful weather. I am also beyond grateful for Lider’s hospitality and sharing only a few of the many incredible things about Panama. I am beyond sad this trip is coming to an end. It has been such a life changing experience and by far the best trip I have ever been on.

Exchange. Day 6 in Panama!!

(Slightly late post.)

Today was all about the exchange. With everything that happened today, I now really understand the importance of both taking and giving. We took a flying low modern class today and I didn’t even make this connection until now, but he kept telling us to gather and send energy throughout our body. There is a difference between taking in energy and sending it out and both are equally as important. And I think the same applies to this trip. The whole idea of Movement Exchange is great because it allows us to both learn and give so much during our time in Panama. I know I have learned so much and taken so much energy and knowledge from this trip and I know we’ve given some happiness to these kids. I can tell by the way they smile that we are really giving them some happiness and excitement while we are here.

That being said… this morning during the flying low class (it’s a technique based on moving efficiently up, down and into the ground), I learned that rolling + tile floors = lots of pain. All of our shoulders are covered in bruises! Regardless, the class was awesome. I know I struggle with moving on the ground and I definitely learned new ways to approach floor work, which was awesome. We get a little bit longer of a class in the morning with the same teacher so we’ll be adding on tomorrow and learning some more techniques! 

After the flying low class, we ate some delicious fruit and headed off to our class at the University. Unfortunately, today was our last day where we will be teaching at the University. We had an awesome modern class taught by Abby from SMU, and boy was I sore from the silk class yesterday! I could barely move my hands above my head. But Abby gave a great class and I absolutely loved her movement. And so did the students 🙂 In the last 15 minutes of the class, Allison taught a contemporary combination that was also great. The movement was really, really accented and everyone looked great doing it!!

We then got a quick lunch and I got my first empanada which was super delicious and then went to Aldeas for the second day! Unfortunately, they got out of school at 1 (only a little bit before we arrived) and many of the kids had to do homework before they could come dance. A few girls came out though and it was nice to be able to talk to them a bit before everyone else got there. My favorite exchange that I’ve had during the trip happened today and it surprisingly wasn’t through dance. I found out that one of the girls, Paula, loves to write. She was reading and saying her poems to me and they were absolutely beautiful! I had her say them really slowly for me so I could repeat her poems and understand them. I was actually really proud of myself because I could understand them too! I had her help me with a few words but for the most part I could translate them! The rhyming was beautiful, too. The only thing is that they were really sad… A lot of them were about lost love and forgetting a love. She was a beautiful poet and she is only 10. I’m really happy she felt comfortable sharing them with me and that was by far one of my favorite moments of the trip. 

Here’s one of her poems (ignore the last line– just the stuff outlined!


And me and Paula!



After Aldeas, we were supposed to go to an all boys orphanage in Panama City, but unfortunately we weren’t able to go. It was almost a blessing and a curse because it gave us some more time to explore Casco. We walked around and got coffee and pineapple empanadas, which were delicious. We then bought some souvenirs and got to watch the sunset over the water. One of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. We then headed back to the hostel and then went to dinner. By the time we got to dinner I was starving!! May or may not have eaten a whole pizza to myself… maybe…


I think we ended on a really good note today. Even though we didn’t get to go to the other orphanage, today was really fulfilling and I think we all really enjoyed it. The kids at Aldeas were great and their dancing was awesome and I still can’t believe this trip is almost over…

Jam Packed. Day 5 in Panama!!

Today was crazy busy (hence the title) and I don’t think I was quite prepared for how much we were going to do. We started off the day bright and early with an aerial class where we learned to use silks. Might be one of the hardest things I have ever done. I have about zero upper body strength so it was really, really difficult for me, but I still had so much fun!! Great way to start off the day. We then headed off to the University of Panama for another class. Kelsey and Chris taught a ballet class, which was great! They did a great job teaching and gave really great corrections. I know I learned some knew things in that class and I’m sure the University students did as well. I was talking to a few of them beforehand and they said they didn’t like ballet all that much, but I could tell they were really enjoying themselves this time. 🙂 We then headed off to the Panama Canal. I loved learning about the history of the Panama Canal and how it worked. We walked up to the observation deck and I spent a decent amount of time there. The weather was INCREDIBLE. The breeze felt so great from up above and it was extremely refreshing being by the water. We got to see a few boats pass by too, which was really cool. Here’s a pic. The boat was massive.


After the Panama Canal, we went to Aldeas SOS in Panama. It’s run by the same foundation as the one in Colon that we went to earlier in the week, but this was closer to the city. One of my cons for the day… I was so tired by the time we got to the orphanage!! The silk class felt like days ago, but somehow I made it through okay! One pro: the kids were so well behaved!! I could tell that a lot of them really wanted to dance it was great to see them so eager. We had a mix of older and younger girls and this was the first time we didn’t split up into two groups. It actually worked out really nicely. With all of us working together, our energy was really great and I felt like we were able to keep their attention a little bit longer. One of my favorite moments of the day was when I was dancing and helping one of the girls and she decided to go sit down. I had been working with her for a while, so I went over to her and asked her to dance with me. She kept saying no, so I kept asking and eventually she said yes! After that she was dancing full out with a ton of energy so I’m very glad I kept asking her to dance with me because I think she really enjoyed herself. I was so impressed with the kids at Aldeas. They were so well behaved and it was the first place I didn’t really have to discipline the kids very much and it genuinely seemed like they wanted to dance. Plus, one of the boys, Alex, was killing it!!! He was so great! He knew every move and I could tell he really liked the hip hop steps. He also performed the dance we taught them by himself, which was awesome!! Like usual, after the dancing ended, we stayed and played with the kids for a while before we headed back to Casco. 

One of my favorite pictures of the day!! These two kids were adorable.

When we got back to Casco, we spent a little bit of time doing some shopping where all the vendors were. It was fun looking around at all the stuff. They had some beautiful paintings and cool little knick-knacks. We then got dinner at a nearby restaurant called La Vaina. I got the beef wok with noodles and it was super tasty. We then went to a bar called Teatro Amador and heard some live jazz music! The woman who was singing sounded exactly like Regina Spektor. It was kinda crazy. 

Mi comida. Yum.



Overall, today was absolutely crazy. We did so much and I am beyond exhausted!! Thankfully, it was most definitely crazy in a good way. A very good way. Day 5 in Panama = success. Movement Exchange ❤


Muchos abrazos!! Day 4 in Panama!

Today was indescribable. I’d say the best day we’ve had so far in more ways than one! During our reflections at the end of the day today, everyone had so many great things to say and I think  there was a general consensus that today was incredible. We started off the day taking a hike up Cerro Ancon, where we got incredible views of Panama. We could even point out our hotel which was pretty neat!! After the hike, all of our calves were a little on the sore side, but the view was most definitely worth it. Afterwards, Emily and I taught a class at the University of Panama. We taught a modern/contemporary class and it was really inspiring to see everyone move. I loved seeing our fellow Move-Ex members from SMU dance because they were beautiful (of course) and the University students were absolutely incredible as well. The way they moved was so different from the way I normally move and they really made the movement their own. Many of them were really emotional with their dancing, which I think is something we lack a little bit in the States so it was really inspiring to see that. I really had a great time teaching them and got some great feedback from my fellow Move-Exers 🙂

Here’s a quick pic of the class:


We then headed off to Malambo for the second day. We had the older girls first and we worked on their pas de bourres again! We spent some time working on them and combined them with chasses across the floor and they did it beautifully!! We then worked on the fun salsa-y combination again and they really had a ton of fun with it. One of the girls, Julina, knew every single step and I was really proud of her. After quite some time, we switched groups and had the younger girls. They were CRAZY at first. Absolutely insane. We finally got them to calm down a bit, but it definitely took some effort. I definitely noticed today how much our tone affects how involved the kids are. The more energy, the better!!! At the end of the day, we had a show with all of the girls so they could show their dances to all of us. All of the dances they learned were so diverse and different and I’m so glad we can leave these girls with a wealth of dance moves for them to practice. It’s nice to be able to know we’re leaving them with something for them to hold on to and practice. I was talking to one of the girls and she said she was going to practice and I really think they will 🙂

Everyone at Malambo:Image

The hardest part of today was saying goodbye to the girls. Knowing that we may never (and probably won’t) ever see these girls again was a crazy concept for me. I really didn’t want to leave and I wanted to get to know these girls more and more. I felt like we connected so much with them just within two days and I couldn’t imagine how close we would get if we had more time. Regardless, I knew we had to leave and I’m still extremely excited for the orphanage tomorrow and all the knew kids we are going to be meeting. I’m getting  a lot more comfortable with the kids and speaking in Spanish to them, which is definitely boosting my confidence while teaching! I am so incredibly grateful for this experience and it has already taught me so much about dancing and how universal it is. I know dance warms my heart and it’s incredible to see it warming these kids hearts as well. 🙂


Leaving so soon?

I cannot believe today was our last day in Malambo! It has gone by far too quickly. I am surprised by the amount of children who have impacted me in the short two days we spent at this orphanage, and I can only hope that I made as much of an impression on them in return. It was so difficult to tell the children who were hanging all over me that I wasn’t returning tomorrow, and that “hasta mañana” would be a lie. We came on this trip to make a difference in the lives of these kids, but they have honestly been the ones to make a difference. I have a much different perspective than I did a few days ago, and I presume that I will continue to gain a more humble and appreciative outlook on my own life in the days to come. Today was long, and busy, but definitely the most rewarding of our three here so far. I pray that the children we meet in the next few days will be as receptive and loving as the kids in Malambo, and that they may continue dancing long after we leave. 

Moving through Photos

I can never find enough words to express how blessed I feel to be here in Panamá.  I hope these photos provide some insight into the happiness I am experiencing by being around such vibrant and thoughtful young women and men and by my magical surroundings.

Here’s a glimpse of my day in Panamá-


Adele and Emily taught class today at la Universidad de Panamá
Adele and Emily taught class today at la Universidad de Panamá
Patacones, arroz, bolo, and lentils
Patacones, arroz, bolo, and lentils
We took a tour through the University today
The art building
Beautiful artwork at the university
Beautiful artwork at the university
The younger girls at Malambo performing their dance
The younger girls at Malambo performing their dance
Jennifer, Angelica and I
The big girls!
Plaza Catedral at dawn





Total hours danced:  2 hours

Total number of sunscreen applications: 2

Number of times lost: 0!!

Number of Spanish words pronounced correctly: many more than day uno

Number of times I’ve eaten plantains to date: 3!

Number of times saying Lo siento, no entiendo (I’m sorry I don’t understand): about 4

Number of smiles seen: about  1000

Total Earnings: More worth it every day

Senses of Panama

It’s actually quite refreshing to not be able to understand everything people are saying- it’s peaceful to hear the poetic tones of the Spanish language, and so intriguing to see how a wordless vocabulary can reach others.  I love dance.  I love the action, I love the performance, I love watching bodies move through space, and I love the pedagogy.  But the most rewarding part for me is watching kids interpret what they see and how they make it their own.. or maybe how they struggle until finally they’ve conquered a step ball change or pas de bourree.  That’s what it’s all about for me: educating others to discovering new things they may have never thought of doing.

This morning with the help of the Move-Ex team, I  taught a jazz class at la Universidad de Panamá.  A) I’ve never taught university age students B) I’ve never taught students who don’t speak ingles.  The class flowed much easier than expected and the students from both Panamá and the US were extremely eager to learn- that was the biggest compliment for me.  Seeing my friends whom I admire and value so much alongside complete strangers who were so focused and interested in what I was doing.  Moments like those make me confident about and excited for my future as a dancer.

After class at la Universidad de Panamá
After class at la Universidad de Panamá

Later in the day we went to an orphanage referred to as Malambo.  Because I have knee injury most of my friends took the control of the classes we taught.  We played an animal game with the first group and the girls, ranging from ages 8-10 and las niñas had such a pleasure teaching us the names of different animals in spanish and movements they associated with those animals.  Keeping their attention was not an easy task, but we’ve devised secret strategies to help the process go more smoothly tomorrow.

Beautiful Malambo

After the long day, we took a walk around Panamá, learning about the history of the many times conquered country.  Why was the canal built in Panamá and not Nicaragua, you ask?  Because Panama is more resistant to earthquakes.  Through the night we ate delicious pizza and ice cream and talked to some locals about Panamanian activities.  …More on those activities in the coming days!

Panamá at night
I taught Valencia how to take a selfie today!
I taught Florencia how to take a selfie today!

What I saw: Community (and the Panama Canal!)
What I heard:
¿Eres un niño o una niña?  My answer: NIÑA!!
What I smelled:
The ocean
What I tasted: 
FRIED PLAINTAINS, I asked for muchos
What I felt: 
Humidity and warmth, just like home
What I learned:
Beyoncé is universal & how to say monkey in Spanish- mono


Lunch at la Universidad- Arroz, frijoles, pollo y platanos
Lunch at la Universidad- Arroz, frijoles, pollo y platanos