Turning on a Dime

When I joined JUNTOS and went to Oaxaca, Mexico in 2019, I had no idea how impactful the trip would be. The week in Oaxaca dancing and performing for communities around the city changed the way I view concert dance and teamwork, and forced me far outside my comfort zone. I firmly believe that I would not be the dancer, student, or coworker I am today if it was not for those nine days in Oaxaca. A year and a half later, I carry with pride the JUNTOS mission to cultivate unity through dance. While on my journey as a JUNTOS Ambassador I am so grateful for everyone who has supported me, whether it be through mentoring, guidance, financial support, or emotional support. So first of all, thank you thank you thank you!

In early March with the reality of COVId-19 setting in, my fellow Ambassadors and I found our projects on-hold indefinitely. The organization I was supposed to work with in New York City had to cancel their in-person summer programing, and many ideas were bounced around. Should we hold Zoom dance classes? Will I be able to teach in the fall? What if students (rightfully so) feel uncomfortable dancing on screen? How do we teach dance technique without in person connection, especially when everyone has about 5 square feet of space to dance in. As every aspect of our daily life is called into question, it often feels that more questions are being asked than answered. I am inspired and in awe of the resilience my teammates have displayed in the face of all this change. Amy, our leader, helped us find backup plans almost immediately, and no one missed a beat in figuring out how we can reach our goals in a rapidly changing world.

I am excited to announce that starting this week I will be documenting my experience with People’s Theatre Project and Uptown Arts Summer Camp, a collaboration made possible in part by generous donors and Fordham University’s Summer Research Grant program.

Without my experience in JUNTOS, I don’t think I would have been able to transition my plan as smoothly as I did. The entire dance community has adjusted almost at once to online platforms, offering donation based classes and presenting work to keep people inspired and artistically charged. It is vital to note that when the world seemed to be collapsing, people turned to creativity and entertainment for comfort and stability. We as artists bring comfort and meaning to those who need it. We listen to each other, mourn together, and then heal together. It is vital to listen to each other now more than ever, to share and really hear the other person. My hope is that by documenting this collaborative experience and sharing my past JUNTOS experiences, people will be empowered to look at their own interactions, both within and beyond the dance world, and reflect on their worldview. My worldview, although by all intents and purposes, is liberal, is also tainted with implicit biases. I work every day to challenge those biases, and encourage anyone reading this post to resolve to do the same every chance they get.

For the next six weeks I will be uploading a post highlighting a quality I have explored during my time with JUNTOS and reflect on how it affects our world in a time of such radical change and uncertainty in the hopes of encouraging others to reflect on their own experiences and be inspired to bring about change.

I hope you join me on this journey and consider sharing this post with someone you feel it would resonate with. Keep an eye on your inbox for my next post!