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Mexico 2015

Yep, we’re here! From May 25-June 7, we will be traveling throughout Mexico to Mexico City, Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, and Oaxaca for two weeks of performances and workshops. We look forward to our travels – stay updated on our adventure on this page! We are posting a blog with photos, videos, and written memories so you can follow with us.

MEXICO CITY, May 25-27

“Pies para que los quiero si tengo alas pa’ volar” –Frida Kahlo
Why do I want feet if I have wings to fly

We begin here: A city with so many activities, diversity, and culture…. Our first few days brought us a slow start. Much rehearsal (to prepare for our many shows!) at the lovely studios at La NaNa, close to Mexico City’s Palacio de Bellas Artes and little activity planned. Adventure always awaits, and thus we encountered our first outreach performance at a public high school of about 400 young adults. Engaged, curious, and eager to learn more, our audience flooded the escenario (stage area) after our bows. Photos, autographs… A new experience for this JUNTOSAbroad group of six dancers! In reality, these six had no expectations, knew not what to expect. Oh, what a journey awaits.

Mexico City, so much history! As artist we understand that this history, and everything we encounter – other’s art as well – inspires our own art. Thus, we took a field trip to La Casa Azul: Frida Kahlo’s house with Diego Rivera. In her beautiful, calming space we explored Frida’s relationship with art and how it connects with audiences from afar.

I am a firm believer in that each experience can teach us something, and this is huge as an artist and especially dancer (because our bodies are our instruments). Thus, we took off to Guanajuato inspired.

GUANAJUATO, May 27-May 30

Risk and you shall receive.

Guanajuato: a lovely, colorful old mining city with lots of tunnels, twisted roads, art, and history. JUNTOS was greeted by old friends (Roberto Hernandez Paz) excited to host the group in a lovely hacienda for the few days we were to be in town. We settled in, got a tour of the huge lovely hacienda, and prepared for our next few days of what would be a whirlwind.

We hit the ground running. Performances at retirement homes in the mornings, workshops with Foro Libre in the afternoon. This is our second year with Foro Libre, a group of student dancers at the University of Guanajuato. All dancers are eager for more knowledge on dance, all fearless. Tendus, pliés… all dancers go into these beginning exercises with ambition – how inspiring. About half the dancers have worked with us before, the other half are new. Of course by the end of it all we are a closely-knit group.

At the end of our workshops and in celebration of JUNTOS being in Guanajuato, our friend Roberto organized a special gift for us at the hacienda… Live flamenco! Oh, and you guessed right… our dancers jumped up (after feeling the rhythm of the voice and guitar for a while) and let that fire from the music fuel their movements. And once the flamenco finished the salsa jam was turned on and we danced the night away.

A closing performance at the outdoor central plaza and joined by our Foro Libre – what a gift. Of course it is raining, yet there is a pocket of clouds that stay away for the time of our show. Rachel, Sussan, and myself moped the floor to prepare for dancing (yes all of the passerby inquire looks) and we are ready for our performance at 7pm. Surrounded by audience, we presented our contemporary dance pieces. At about 7:45, however, the sky could no longer wait and rain droplets began to fall. Although our performance was cut short, we embraced every moment of it. Thank you, Guanajuato, for another amazing year. We closed our time with a dinner, and set off early the next morning for San Miguel de Allende.

SAN MIGUEL de ALLENDE, May 30-June 2

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” – Mother Teresa

First stop? Beloved Hogar Casa Don Bosco and Santa Julia. Ok, so first thing you should know about San Miguel: San Miguel de Allende is one of Mexico’s most beautiful destinations for a tourist – a small colonial town with tons of art, much wealth, many English speakers and tons of retired Americans. It is safe. So why does JUNTOS go if we hope to work with underserved communities?

I first traveled to San Miguel with a group of dancers 10 years ago. During that trip, we visited an all-boys foster home and orphanage. It clicked then: how many faces do these kids see, love, and then leave them? I wanted to leave something that wasn’t material, something they could love forever or learn from. It wasn’t long before JUNTOS started and I was able to realize that dream in the heart of a city of wealth.

Hogar Casa Don Bosco and Santa Julia is an all-girl foster home and orphanage. The home is in Santa Julia, a zone slightly outside of the center and overlooked by the town as it houses working class people. We have taught these girls for seven years now, seen some grow up from a young age of four (and yes, now 11!). Every year they run up to me with hugs and kisses, always inquiring about individuals from the last year. JUNTOS workshops and individuals have affected their lives, inspired creativity, and ignited potential.

So our quick journey to San Miguel began there: workshops with the girls that enliven our hearts. Following that (and of course lunch) we made our way across town where inside we were greeted by a group of ballet folklorico youth dancers. Three days of exchange workshops with a lively group ages 6-20!

By the end of the day with each of the different groups (Don Bosco/Santa Julia and the Ballet Folklorico) we held a showing of our work. Goodbyes are always hard and we were forced to hold back tears. I look forward to next year’s visit.

OAXACA, June 2-7

“Woven into our lives is the very fire from the stars and the genes from the sea creatures, and everyone, utterly everyone, is kin in the radiant tapestry of being.” –Elizabeth Johnson