“One of the biggest insights I think we all made on this trip was that, in Guatemala, we didn’t need to “perform.” It was one of the thoughts I wrote almost immediately after I came back: I don’t want to “perform” anymore, in life or in dance. “Performing” implies pretense and when there is so much realness inside of me, what need is there to escape from the richness of that source? I want to be, to share, to do, but to “perform,” is starting to feel unnecessary. My experiences in Guatemala have allowed me to recognize the importance of my own instinctive feelings and how to embrace and share them fully.
“We are humans. We have common feelings: joy, sadness, fear, love. It doesn’t take much to understand another’s story. Language holds limitations, art breeds possibilities. If we dance for an audience and we use our spirits to do so, connection happens. We are here for each other. To share, to understand, to come together.
-Marisa Martin, Excerpt from “Thoughts on Guatemala, Part II.” June 10, 2011
“Dance gives us this incredible point of entry, to communicate across language barriers and borders and political rifts. Now I’m waiting to go back too- there’s an urgency to do so much more, to share art everywhere to bring people together.”
- Maia Dunlap, Excerpt from “Guatemala Thoughts (2011).” June 3, 2011
“I feel like I have reached a level where it’s not just me out there. No more me against the world. Instead it is me dancing WITH the world, FOR the world and everything in between.“
-Alicia Delgadillo, Excerpt from “Reflections.” March 23, 2011
“Ultimately, what I learned from my experiences in Guatemala is that you cannot take all of the world’s problems onto yourself: it’s not realistic, possible, or effective. But that’s ok, because what you can do is take what you feel passionate about and figure out how to give it value in the world. For me, that’s dance, and I finally understand that the power of communicating through movement, and of sharing that with others, is extraordinary.
“[...] Art is the fabric of culture. It gives texture, color, richness, and meaning to our lives: it describes and defines our human experience. When we share our art we share ourselves, and as artists, sharing our art is sharing the very best part of ourselves. Communicating through art allows us to open our hearts and our minds to each other. We learn about ourselves and those around us, no matter how different or inaccessible they may seem- art allows us to connect on a basic human level. At the risk of sounding naïve, I really believe that in doing so we can create a human community that transcends borders. And how else can we gain enough understanding of each other to achieve compassion and peace? Of course, art is not going to solve all of the world’s problems- so much other work needs to be done, and that work is just as valuable. But my experiences in Guatemala taught me that for me, as a dancer, sharing my art is the most important way that I can try to bring any light into the world. I am so grateful and indebted to all the people I met in Guatemala, for dancing, sharing, smiling, and learning with us- they taught me infinitely more than I taught them.”
- Maia Dunlap, Excerpt from “Reflections on Guatemala.” August 2, 2010
“I can honestly say that in just 12 days, my life has been changed and when I return to New York, I will be seeing the same world through different eyes. Still curious, but more assured of what else they want to see in life. Though we were there to teach and share what we had to offer, I truly was the one that learned. Somewhere in the midst of teaching in classrooms, holding hands of the orphaned young and wrinkling old, an omnipresent volcano, rides in the back of a red pick-up truck, new food, triumphs and mishaps of the Spanish language, performing for close to 900 people in a beautiful theater, sick stomachs, hurt bodies, tired eyes, emotional hearts, hug attacks by an entire school, watching our kids perform, and growing closer to one another – we fell in love. Even thought it was short, my time in Guatemala was powerful enough to become a presence in my everyday life – my thoughts, feelings, actions.”
- Marisa Martin, Excerpt from untitled blog. March 24, 2010
“Dance has the ability to transcend race, religion, ethnicity, and gender and enables us not as Guatemalans or Americans but as human beings to connect on the most essential level. Despite the language barrier, I saw the power of dance and its ability to promote creativity, confidence, and individuality. This is something that I would never have learned sitting in a classroom at Fordham, listening to a professor lecture. These revelations only come from face to face cross-cultural encounters. This trip has been one of the most valuable and influential experiences of my life. I was able to see how much I have to give and share with the world to create a powerful, positive impact. Although we leave tomorrow, I am bringing back with me new memories, friends, and a profound appreciation for the power of dance, as well as the power of our dreams!”
- Katie Berry, Excerpt of letter written to the director after Guatemala 2010
“From you and from these trips, I have witnessed the true power of art form: its ability to transcend languages, cultures, customs and to bridge people together. … The great thing about JUNTOS is that it takes this idea [that the understanding of different cultures is what will bring peace to the world] and connects it to concrete actions… Something inside me has really changed. I feel so inspired to do more because there is so much to be done.”
- Marisa Martin, Excerpt of letter written to the director after Guatemala 2010
“I am going home with an entirely different perception of the world, the power of dance, and of myself… I never understood the power of dance. When my brother passed away, it really made me hate myself for dancing. For being so “selfish” and I struggled so much with my feeling of needing to do more, to help the world become a better place and I just didn’t see dance in that way. JUNTOS seemed to be a great outlet… I always used to believe “everything happened for a reason” in a sort of magical way, but since my brother’s passing its been really hard for me to see the world in a positive way or be able to think good things can happen. This trip has made me be able to accept the way things are and realize things happen the way they are supposed to if we are open to them. … My heart is now open and wanting to do so much more.”
- Kelli Youngman, Excerpt of letter written to the director after Guatemala 2010
“Before this trip I wanted to think dance was important, because it’s so important to me, but deep down I didn’t believe that it was. This trip completely changed all that. Through teaching the workshops and performing at the places we did, I realize that dance and art hold a place in the world that cannot be underestimated. I saw that the power of communicating through movement, of having dance as a tool to express yourself and share, is extraordinary. Dance and art bring a light into the world that is essential. Even, maybe even especially, in places of tremendous poverty and hardship, where so much other work needs to be done, dance cannot be taken out of the equation.“
- Maia Dunlap, Excerpt of letter written to the director after Guatemala 2010
“I think I finally saw the power of dance. I’ve slowly been learning that I love dance because it humanizes whoever performs it. Yet, I finally saw here how much I can give of myself through dance. I also saw how much each member of our group was able to give through dance as well. Finally, it wasn’t about anyone’s technique and ability to execute steps, but it was about each person’s personality and humanity. I finally stopped judging and was able to appreciate and receive what everyone had to offer. I let go of judging myself as well, and for the first time in my life, I performed without being nervous and most importantly without any filter… I finally found out how to perform.”
- Adrienne Cousineau, Excerpt of letter written to the director after Guatemala 2010
“Performing, teaching, and living in Xela for those few days gave me so much of this culture, its generosity, and passion. I realize how this place has given me an entirely new outlook on what is important in life…the people you share it with, and the beauty that you share to the world.”
- Helen Hatch, Excerpt of letter written to the director after Guatemala 2010