Saturday, January 1, 2011

Revolution Jazz Meets Hogar Maria Auxiliadora.

The Jazz Academy where I dance had it's summer recital during the four nights leading up to Christmas Eve. It was a blast! I never imagined I would be dancing in a beautiful old theater (dancing on a wooden raked stage was an adventure) in downtown Cochabamba. The best part, though, was Christmas Eve. A few weeks ago I talked with a few of my friends to see how they would feel about dancing in the hogar. The girls knew we were performing in the city, but they also knew we wouldn't be able to bring them all to the city to see the show. The dancers I talked to were on board, so Luis, our director, agreed to bring the Cuerpo de Baile to the hogar.

Neither the girls nor the sisters had ever seen anything like jazz dance or a dance recital. They kept asking me things like "are you going to dance Christmas carols?" and "are you all going to dress the same?" and "can you teach us all the dances tomorrow morning?" Knowing most of them would never get a chance to see something like this, I was a little bummed when Luis announced the line-up. Fame and Africa. That's it? Only two dances? It was better than nothing, but I went to bed after our last show praying that God would move his heart and help the group to see what a beautiful gift their presence would be for the girls.

The next morning, when I showed up at the terminal to bring the group to the hogar, there were already a handful of guys from the Street group waiting.Luis had recruited them late the night before to come perform for the girls as well! When Luis and his sister and co-director Patricia arrived, my duo partner Alicia had made sure they had everything we needed to dance our own piece as well. Overnight our show had doubled in size and length. Before half of us climbed in to a trufi, I told them how excited the girls were, that they sprang out of bed when I reminded them we were coming to dance today and were scrubbing every last corner of the hogar at that moment. I think that image stuck with them, because when the last of the dancers arrived ten minutes behind us in Luis’s car, another duo was ready to perform as well. As the girls peeked timidly around corners giggling and blushing and running to line up their chairs Patricia walked in to the dressing room and announced “girls! Someone go tell Luis we have to dance Salsa for them too! I think they’ll love it!” Wow, God had answered my prayers. He had inspired the group to offer their talents to these girls as an unforgettable Christmas gift!

And their generosity was not unrewarded. The girls were a dream audience. Every leap and extension and pirouette was ooohed and ahhhed and applauded enthusiastically. By the end of the show the girls were essentially star-struck and are still talking about the dancers by name. They remember what they wore, what they said, who they talked to, which dances they were in, etc. The experience has really stuck with the dancers too. They snapped pictures with the girls, put them on Facebook, and left comments over the next few days like:
“This energy, this group, and the happiness on the children’s faces was the best Chrstimas present. Everyone put in their part to make this poassible. What a beautiful memory! Congrats to everyone!!”
“everyone put in their own Little grain of sand to make these girls from the hogar so happy and give them a great Chrstimas gift. I feel so proud and so happy. Merry Christmas, everyone!”
“Super! Really, we have to do it again, and we don’t have to wait until Christmas or some special occasion things like this.”
All of these comments were written by teenagers and 20-somethings, most of whom live miles away from poor rural towns like Itocta and a few of whom showed up that morning hungover and apathatic.

Not only did the girls have an unforgettable experience, but I think the dancers became more aware of the tremendous gift that their talents can be to others.

From Cosechando Talentos / Hogar Maria Auxiliadora y Revolution Jazz Dance

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