Month: June 2014

An Electric Performance

Teatro Anita Villalaz was packed at Movement Exchange’s 5th annual show on the stormy night of June 13, 2014. Malambo Orphanage and the Danilo Perez Foundation each performed a piece choreographed by Move-Ex volunteers, with Malambo rocking out to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” and Danilo Perez channeling their inner Gatsby to Fergie’s “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody”. Both pieces required high energy and dramatic attitude – which both groups BROUGHT.

The Movement Exchange volunteers also performed a piece to Florence + The Machine’s “No Light No Light”, which showcased choreography by Dance Diplomat Julia Weidman (at only 16, she is a true artist!) as well as improvisation, highlighting the very different talents and styles each dancer brought to this exchange.

Other notable performances included a self-choreographed World Cup-themed dance by a group from Aldea SOS, a breakdancing showcase, a traditional Congo piece, and musical performances by the talented children of Danilo Perez. And of course, the show would not have been possible without the hard work and MC skills of our exchange leaders, Tinna Hernandez and Anna Pasternak. 

The excitement of lightening striking around the theater throughout the show was certainly matched by the energy of the performers inside. It was a successful night of spreading the joy of dance in the local community!

movement exchange panama


Happy Hump Day!

Boy are we exhausted! Our hump day consisted of back-to-back energy-filled classes. We started off with an Aerial class, where most of us were able to flip, turn, and dance mid-air, while some of us realized we have no upper-body strength. We definitely broke a sweat (we were actually drenched in sweat) before heading to the University. Team Chillita (Lily & Rachita) brought two forms of dance most of the students were not familiar with. Lily showed the students the proper way to serve Vouge, while Rachita brought her South Indian culture and taught the class Bharatanatyam. Needless to say, the University loved it. After scarfing down our meals, we did a quick tour through the canal and headed straight to Malambo. 

Our Move-Ex family were all in awe when we witnessed 10-year-old Maeli dancing a full routine on her own. If you want to check out the video of Maeli struttin’ her stuff, check out Your heart will melt!

We have yet another crazy day tomorrow, so good night from Panama!


Nothing But Apples

As we share our “apples and onions” on Day 3 of our open-call exchange, the onions are hard to come by. Our group is divided into two smaller groups, each working with children at a separate foundation. A highlight from each group…

Equipo Danilo Perez: Due to a power outage today, we held class outside, which drew several spectators. One woman who watched almost the entire class went into her home and came back with a bag full of cold cans of Sprite for the kids. Dancing outdoors is always a wonderful community builder!

Equipo Malambo: Perhaps Movement Exchange’s most interesting challenge yet, we are working with a girl who uses a wheelchair because she lost the lower halves of her legs. Today she announced that she does not like her wheelchair and plans to perform in Friday’s show without it. She brought a fantastic energy into the room as she flipped her hair and strutted on her knees to Lady Gaga. What an unexpected and awesome surprise to be able to work with her!

Another major highlight of the exchange so far has been our classes at the Universidad de Panama. We have the very fun opportunity to teach advanced classes to the university’s dance students. Kirsten taught a jazz class yesterday, and Amanda taught a modern class this morning. Jennifer also led a 30-minute conditioning session which left all of our booties burning. We are all super excited for a two-part class tomorrow: south Indian dance taught by Rachita and Vogue taught by Lili. We will update on how those classes go.

We’re all heading to bed soon in preparation for an early morning silks class. Que adventura!

Practicing our Lady Gaga struts across the floor
Practicing our Lady Gaga struts across the floor

Spotlight: Hannah Crane, Move-Ex Pioneer

crane-head-shot (1)

1. What is your background in dance?
I started dancing and competing with my hometown studio in Warsaw, IN when I was 7 years-old. This is where I gained a foundational education and technique in ballet, modern, jazz, and tap. I studied under this studio from 7 years-old until I graduated high school; it was a home away from home and a second family to me. My dance family helped me through my worst times, and I shared with them some of my best times. My small town studio was where I first learned the powers of dance and its abilities to heal, celebrate, and bring people together.

As a student at Indiana University, I have completed my minor in dance, and I have studied and performed with several dance companies in Bloomington. The company that has expanded my technique, expression, and cultural and historical knowledge of dance is the IU African American Dance Company. Under Iris Rosa’s direction, I have had the opportunity to learn from dance professionals of the black and African diaspora from all over the world, explore various cultural dances, perform with the IU Contemporary Dance program, and take workshops with Ballet Hispanico and Alvin Ailey. It has been an amazing outlet for me to enrich my technique by exploring a broad spectrum of dance.

2. How did you get involved with Movement Exchange?
I learned about Movement Exchange and the Indiana University chapter my freshman year of college. My new friend at the time, Allison Yates, told me about her experience, and I was so intrigued. I stalked all her photos on Facebook, and I knew this was something I wanted to get involved in. Now four years, three exchanges, a presidency, and a position as public relations director—Movement Exchange has been one of the most important things in my life, rewarding experiences in college, and my passion to share with others.

3. What is your fondest memory of your exchange?
My first exchange to Panama made a really strong impression on me—hence my dedication to the MoveEx ever since. I remember vividly the first time I went to Aldea S.O.S. in Colon, especially because this was also the first time Movement Exchange had ever partnered with this organization. Anna emphasized that she was not sure how the kids would respond to us, and that Colon was one of the more dangerous, impoverished parts of the country. I was honestly scared that morning because I anticipated hostility from the children. The complete opposite happened. The children absolutely adored us, and we adored them. We stayed what seemed like hours longer than we had scheduled simply because we were having so much fun just free-style dancing in the field as one big group. I’ll never forget bachata dancing with little (at the time) Renaldo, the roar of laughter, and the countless smiles as the sun set on our beautiful day together. That is when I fell in love with Panama and MoveEx.

4. How do you define Dance Diplomat?
A dance diplomat is a person who is passionate about dance, in whatever form or context, and utilizes dance as a tool for social activism, cross-cultural understanding, community building, empowerment of youth and underrepresented populations, and communication to transcend all social borders, both locally and internationally.

5. What has Movement Exchange taught you?
Movement Exchange has taught me countless things about myself and others. In a nutshell, though, MoveEx showed me that small connections and interactions can lead to the biggest changes. One small drop in a large body of water create ripples, and those ripples get bigger and bigger. Who knows how far they can go.

6. Who is your favorite choreographer?
I idealized Bob Fosse as a child, so he will forever be one of my icons.

7. What is the most compelling performance you have ever seen?
Alvin Ailey’s “Revelations” is my favorite performance. I have seen it twice and the choreography, music, costumes, concept, everything never gets old. It is a timeless series of pieces that because of its connection to human experience and emotion will live on forever.

8. What’s your biggest accomplishment so far?
I think simply getting involved during my time in college. I am proud of the variety of people, organizations, and groups I have become connected with. I believe I have left my mark and a bit of legacy at Indiana University, and I’m proud that I have made my time worthwhile. I can’t wait for the next chapter!

9. Where’s the most exotic place you have been?
I am about to go to Uganda this summer. I think it will be the most exotic of my travels yet!

10. How many languages do you speak? Which ones?
English, and very choppy Spanish.

11. What is one thing on your bucket list?
I want to go on a world tour with my father.

12. What’s something most people don’t know about you?
When I was young my dream was to make documentary films. That is still kind of one of my dreams.

13. If you could time travel, where and why?
I would time travel back to the 60’s and hang out with my mom, because that would be awesome.

14. What are some of your other hobbies?
I love meeting new people. I also love attending galleries and performances of any kind—concerts, plays, musicals, poetry slams, comedy, anything on a stage!

15. If you had a tagline/motto what would it be?
“Why not?”

16. What three words come to mind when you think of India?
Colorful. Bollywood. Hindi.

17. Do you think Movement Exchange would be valuable in India? Why?
Of course. Movement Exchange’s mission is valuable anywhere and for anyone. Regardless of the culture, country, political situation, and so on, children deserve attention and feelings of worthiness. Movement Exchange will allow the children of India, in orphanages or at-risk youth foundations, an outlet to connect with foreigners on a personal level, and they will be given the chance to feel appreciated. Even for just one day, a child will know that a person from another part of the world cares about them and thinks that he or she is special.

18. Why do you dance?
It allows me to transform, discipline myself, release, internalize and externalize my feelings, create, and connect with audiences and peers in a way that no other art form or sport can. Dance is the only thing that I feel keeps me grounded, but frees me at the same time.