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Guatemala 2023

¡Vamos a Guatemala!

We are so excited to begin our 2023 trip to Guatemala. Last year we spent 10 days traveling in Guatemala City and in Xela, connecting with some incredible organizations. We can’t wait to travel to Xela again, and this year we are visiting Antigua for the first time since 2019. Our student Dance Volunteers are joining us from Boston Conservatory, Towson University, University of Utah, the Ailey/Fordham BFA Program, Hunter College, and University of Buffalo. We can’t wait to see Holland, Shelby, Natasha, Mikhail, Selena, and Cammie in Guatemala!

LUNES 22 de Mayo - Guatemala City

Today is the first day of our JUNTOSAbroad trip to Guatemala, and all the students are arriving in Guatemala City, before we travel to Xela (Quetzaltenango). JUNTOS staff have been working to make a full itinerary in Xela and Antigua, working with social impact orgs who better their communities through educational support, healthcare, arts education, housing, and more. We are so inspired by these incredible places that share our mission of sharing the arts in an inclusive, equitable way. 

As Dance Volunteers arrived they had lunch, walked around the neighborhood of our hotel Dos Lunas, and then had dinner before heading into a short meeting before bed. Time to rest up before an exciting two weeks. ¡Buenas Noches!


Today was day 2 of JUNTOSAbroad: Guatemala 2023, but day 1 in Xela! After our drive we stopped by our hotel to unload bags. This hotel is so special to JUNTOS because it is owned by the parents of our International Programs Director, Sussan Hrozeck. Then we went to one of our favorite stops, the Municipal Theatre in Xela.

It feels amazing to be back at Teatro Municipal Xela (Quetzaltenango) with our friends from Cuerpo De Baile! Daniela Som and Teresa welcomed us with their dancers! This community always makes us feel so welcome. We had introductions, pizza, pastelitos, and lots of wonderful conversation and sharing through movement. After a long day of travel, rehearsals, and community we ate a yummy dinner and are off to bed! ¡Nos vemos mañana!

#JUNTOShappy #guatemala2023 #juntosfamilia

MIÉRCOLES 24 de Mayo - Xela

After breakfast, we hopped onto the bus with all our things for the day. Today we rehearsed for our first performance, which is tomorrow!

Staff and Dance Volunteers worked tirelessly to put together a JUNTOS repertory piece called Saludo, choreographed by JUNTOSAlumni Alivia Schaffer. The full group will learn and perform this wonderful piece. Other JUNTOS Dance Volunteers have brought their own choreography which we will take time to rehearse and perform. They brought two solos and one trio.

After rehearsing all morning we took a break for a yummy lunch at one of favorite places, Mandarina. JUNTOS then taught a workshop for Cuerpo de Baile, and Escenic Dance. During the workshop we worked on creating a piece that will be performed later this week.

After dinner, JUNTOS went out dancing and took a small class with JUNTOSAlumni Nestor Rodriguez, who taught salsa and bachata! Nestor has participated in JUNTOS programs and taught workshops for us, for almost 12 years! What wonderful relationships we have here in Xela.

JUEVES 25 de Mayo - Xela

Today we taught a fulfilling and enjoyable workshop at Casa ONICE. The students were so excited to dance and we all shared our love of moving with each other! After the workshop we performed and they shared how moved they were.

In the evening we had a special opportunity to visit the Centro Intercultural de Quetzaltenango, where we participated in a Mayan Ceremony. The director of the center Barenice, led us through an incredible ceremony that helped us share energy with one another, our ancestors, the earth, mountains, rivers, lakes, and more.

The mother of the Daniela, the Director of Cuerpo de Baile, Rosamaria showed each participant their Nahuales, and assisted during the ceremony. This was a wonderful, moving, experience that taught us so much about the Mayan way of life and integration of spirituality, respect and connection to nature and the earth, and to our community. We were so happy to be welcomed with open arms into this cross-cultural, community building opportunity.

VIERNES 26 de Mayo - Xela

Today we had two performances, where we performed Saludo, Long Lost, Slip, and Why, Who Me? The first performance was at Colegio Suizio a school outside of the city center. The students have been working hard at their English lessons, and after watching our dance performance, asked us lots of interesting questions about what dance means to each of us and to our JUNTOS community, and how our Dance Volunteers began dancing, and how they felt about dancing culture in Xela and Guatemala.

We drove back towards the city center to have another performance at IFEBO, a public school for girls. This performance was outside on their basketball court, with the girls surrounding our dancers. They were so excited to share time with us.

After that we traveled to the dance studios of Escenic Dance! Thank you to Jose Champion Alvarado for opening your space today. JUNTOS Dance Volunteers taught an open Jazz class to dancers from Escenic and Cuerpo de Baile. Then, JUNTOS took Salsa with Champion and Bachata class with Melany Bonilla.

It was a jammed packed day full of dancing – we are headed to dinner and then to rest!

SÁBADO 27 de Mayo - Xela

Today was our last full day in Xela! We rehearsed for our final performance in Xela, which included pieces from JUNTOS, Cuerpo de Baile, and Escenic Dance Studio and Bakanos Studios.

First, we went to the front of the theatre, to garner attention and appreciate the beautiful architecture of theater and nature that surrounds Xela. What a wonderful place to dance. Dancers from all orgs performed a collaborative piece that we worked on all week! The companies then went into the theatre and shared multiple pieces that showcased the wonderfully diverse dance scene in Xela and from the United States. A enormous thank you to all dancers for sharing your incredible talent, passion, and love for community building through dance.

We finished the evening and had the best time participating in the fútbol festivities!

DOMINGO 28 de Mayo - Xela --> Antigua

Today is our final day in Xela. We said big thank you’s to El Pedregal Hotel, and packed up our van with the help of our driver Miguel. Before leaving, we watched the Wizard of Oz, where the role of the Scarecrow was performed by our very own Christian Barrios, JUNTOS International Liaison. We got snacks from Xelapan, and JUNTOS said goodbye to Xela and hit the road to travel to Antigua.

We can’t wait to connect with more communities there!

LUNES 29 de Mayo - Antigua

Our day started with a captivating performance at Hogar Hermana Vitiello, a distinguished institution catering to the educational and residential needs of youth living with HIV/AIDS. The sheer joy on the faces of the children as we danced was immeasurable. Following the performance, we had the opportunity to play with the students during their recess. Their school was adorned with intricate mosaics, adding to its charm. Our interaction with the children who witnessed our performance left us with a lingering sense of fulfillment as they bombarded us with questions.

Later in the day, the Dance Volunteers orchestrated two workshops at a dance studio in Antigua called Dance House. These workshops, centered around Jazz dance, we were met with enthusiasm by the students. They were very engaged and showed remarkable progress in a dance form that some had never experienced before.

MARTES 30 de Mayo - Antigua

Our day commenced with a heartfelt performance at Hospicio San Jose, a remarkable healthcare facility catering to individuals living with HIV/AIDS. The purpose of our performance was to infuse a glimmer of joy into the lives of patients and staff, who are under a lot of stress.

Later in the day we visited an art museum nestled within the central park of Antigua, showcasing a wide range of artwork spanning from the pre-Hispanic era to the present day. The art on display was truly captivating, and our knowledgeable tour guide added a fascinating layer of insight. Additionally, the museum boasted breathtaking views of Antigua and the magnificent Volcan de Agua. Remarkably, the museum had been reconstructed following its destruction during past earthquakes. Antigua’s landscape is peppered with remnants of churches that have succumbed to the havoc of seismic activity, and we had the privilege of exploring the ruins of the cathedral. Time had taken its toll, evident in a cracked wall precariously held together by gravity.

Concluding the day on a vibrant note, we participated in an exhilarating and challenging Salsa class led by the talented Martincito. The culmination of the class was a lively performance of Salsa and Bachata, which was an absolute joy to behold, Martincito captivated us with his infectious passion and musicality.

MIERCOLES 31 de Mayo - Antigua

Today was a day full of enriching experiences. Our first performance took place at César Brañas, an esteemed arts school nurturing the next generation of talented artists. Witnessing the students’ genuine appreciation for our artistry allowed us to delve deeper into JUNTOS mission of sharing dance. Afterwards, we performed at Instituto Belén, a Catholic school that extends scholarships to a group of young women, facilitating their pursuit of education. The students’ exceptional dedication to their chosen fields, such as teaching, left an indelible impression on us. We not only delivered a captivating dance workshop but also performed “Saludo,” a mesmerizing group piece choreographed by the gifted Alivia Schaffer.

Our time at the dance studio called, Dance House drew to a close today, culminating in our final two workshops. With a profound sense of fulfillment, we imparted our knowledge and expertise to a group of 9-12-year-old students as well as class for older students. Both were amazing groups, and we loved our time spent teaching at Dance House. After facillitating the two workshops we took a reggaeton hip hop class. The teacher was amazing and the song he chose was so fun to dance to. The reggaeton class was definitely a highlight of the day, because it was challenging but so fun!

JUEVES 1 de Junio - Antigua

Today proved to be an incredibly enjoyable day as we had the privilege of visiting an exceptional school to showcase our talents. We danced on the grass, captivating the students at San Lucas Sacatepequez with our performance. To our delight, following the spectacle, we were treated to a delectable lunch consisting of homemade tamales and refreshing fruit smoothies. Exploring the school’s splendid garden was an enlightening and fun experience. We shown that they are keeping ladybug eggs safe and have an impressive array of flourishing vegetables in their garden. The warm and welcoming environment at San Lucas Sacatepequez left a big impression on us.

After the performance, we embarked on a journey to the neighboring town of Antigua, where we saw a beautiful mural adorning the top of a hill, with an awe-inspiring view of Volcán de Agua. The intricate stories depicted on the mural evoked a sense of intrigue within us. Undoubtedly, today’s itinerary overflowed with a multitude of engaging activities, culminating in a fulfilling experience.

VIERNES 2 de Junio - Antigua

Today marked the finale of our trip as we prepared for our final performance. The entire day was dedicated to warming up our bodies and rehearsing for the event, which took place at Museo de Arte Colonial. Dancing in such an exquisite space allowed us to blend the surrounding beauty into our artistry, creating a truly immersive experience for us as dancers. We relished the opportunity to perform in unconventional settings, each presenting its own unique challenges that we eagerly embraced and skillfully navigated. Problem-solving and adapting amidst limitations became a delightful aspect of our artistic journey.

Collaborating with the talented students from CEMUNART (which is a dance program at César Brañas, which is a performing arts school) for our final performance added an extra layer of artistic synergy to our performance. They delivered mesmerizing renditions of Swan Lake and a selection of contemporary dances, leaving us in awe of their remarkable dancing. Witnessing their dedication and the fruits of their labor was truly inspiring. Our last time dancing as a group was bittersweet. Nonetheless, we graced the stage with astounding performances, eliciting an overwhelmingly positive response from the audience. To commemorate this momentous occasion, we concluded the day with a celebratory group dinner, cherishing the bonds we had forged and the memories we had created together.

SÁBADO 3 de Junio - Antigua --> Guatemala City

Today was our well-deserved day off, granting us the opportunity to explore the vibrant market in Antigua. As a group, we ventured into the bustling marketplace, where we bought gifts for our family and friends. The experience of shopping in Guatemala proved to be an exhilarating adventure, as we marveled at the abundance of captivating paintings, textiles, and masks adorning the various stalls. Moreover, we relished the chance to immerse ourselves in the local culture by honing our haggling skills. Concluding our shopping excursion on a delightful note, we indulged in Pops ice cream, which was very yummy. 

Sadly, this day also marked the time when our paths diverged. We said our goodbyes to one another, exchanging heartfelt goodbyes and leaving behind endearing notes as tokens of our shared experiences. The majority of the group went back to Guatemala City, so they could fly out the following day. Today’s respite granted us a much-needed break from the intensity of the past two eventful weeks, allowing us to rejuvenate and reflect upon our incredible trip.