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Mexico 2023

¡Somos listos! JUNTOS is READY to travel to Mexico for the first time in 3 years! We will be traveling in the state of Oaxaca, staying in Oaxaca City and visiting towns nearby. We welcome 4 Dance Volunteers, 2 returning students and 2 new! They will teach JUNTOS workshops, perform contemporary and modern dance repertory, and learn new styles like Ballet Folkloricó with local dance companies. 

Tune in daily for updates to our Travel Log!

Check out these photos from past JUNTOS trips to Mexico!

jueves 5 enero

Today was spent in the air! Staff and Dance Volunteers traveled from various states in the United States and Guatemala to Oaxaca City, Mexico. Dance Volunteers Brooke, Rhapsody, Mia, and JUNTOS staff members Sussan and Cristiana settled into the Airbnb in the city and explored a bit of Oaxaca. The group had lunch at La Popular and rested up for an exciting 2 weeks of dance and community building. Nos vemos 🙂

viernes 6 enero

AND WE’RE OFF! After breakfast, Dance Volunteers and Staff departed for our first day of rehearsals at CEFAO – Centro de Educación y Formación Artistica de Oaxaca. Dancers rehearsed Me Me Me Makes Three by Owen Scarlett, and Conexión by DV Mia Mellican, and other JUNTOS repertory pieces for upcoming performances next week. Then JUNTOS and dancers from CEFAO directed by Fermin Ramírez, gathered for a Día de Reyes celebration with Chocolate Oaxaqueña y Rosca – a celebratory cake made for this special holiday. Dancers from the US and Oaxaca discussed their favorite dance styles, classes they take in school, and training programs they attend. While walking around Oaxaca City, the group saw celebrations in the town center for Día de Reyes got a taste of how the holiday is celebrated in Mexico. After a beautiful first day of action, we’re off to bed to rest up for tomorrow. ¡Feliz Día De Reyes!

sábado 7 enero

Buenas! What a beautiful day in Oaxaca City. Our day was comprised mostly of rehearsals, working on Fledge by Tanya Chianese and La Puerta by Julia Horner. On Abroad trips, dancers come with choreography prepared then get to rehearse together for the first time when they arrive! Learning repertory off of video is an important skill to learn if you hope to become a professional dancer. After rehearsing all of our repertory a few times, Dance Volunteers and Staff went to lunch at local restaurant another time (again, because we love it). Since the town is still celebrating Día de Reyes, the group walked around the holiday market to shop from local vendors. The day finished up back at the Airbnb, with some pizza and ice cream while DV’s shared their research presentations. A large part of our trip is intercultural exchange and learning. This means we ask our dancers to bring prepared material to share about various aspects of the places we are visiting during that Abroad trip. For our Mexico trip, dancers provided details about the history of the indigenous community the Olmecs, and the Monte Alban historical site, alebrijes and Oaxacan artisanal work and Folklorico Dance in Mexico and Oaxaca. Additionally today, the group met up with Juan Rodriguez, a former student of Fermín Ramírez. Juan is now the Associate Artistic Director for Folklorico dance company in Dallas Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico. He worked with JUNTOS many years back and we are so excited to reconnect.

domingo 8 enero

Today was such a fully and wonderful day! JUNTOS Dance Volunteers taught 3 workshops for students at CEFAO. Dance Volunteers have gone through our JUNTOS Teacher Training where they learn our pedagogy which is based in inclusivity and relationship building, and utilizes a mixture of modern, jazz, ballet, and contemporary dance techniques, which dancers study at their conservatories in the United States in Canada.

For lunch, Brenda Rendón Chávez from CEFAO, who is both a dancer and teacher, brought homemade tamales for the group. YUM!

After our day of JUNTOS workshops, Brenda led a Folklorico class where JUNTOS Dance Volunteers learned traditional dance of Oaxaca “Danza de la piña” and “El son de la negra” from Jalisco. They were able to try on the traditional costumes as well! Brenda told us that it was her first time teaching Folklorico to anyone from outside of Mexico. It was a truly beautiful cultural exchange of dance.

lunes 9 enero

We had such an incredible day. Beginning early Monday morning, the group traveled to Papalutla, about 40 minutes outside of Oaxaca City. After a beautiful drive, we arrived to the home of Marta Alicia Jimenez, an artist, JUNTOS supporter and long time friend of the organization. She led the group on a small hike, and instructed the group to pick leaves from the Piril plant. When we all arrived to a clearing, Alicia led a cleansing ritual using the leaves, followed by a group meditation and movement practice. Each dancer had time for solo movement and exploration of this wonderful, natural environment. Then the group went back, and worked with el barro – mud/clay, and learned to sculpt our own goddesses.

We then had mole with chicken for lunch and prepared for the workshop which we would teach to the children of the Papalutla community. 14 children arrived, ready to dance. Then Dance Volunteers performed a selection of JUNTOS Rep. “Me, Me, Me, Makes Three” and “La Puerta”. We arrived back to Oaxaca City that evening full of joy over this experience. Gracias Papalutla.

martes 10 enero

Our morning began with a debrief of our day in Papalutla before heading to the city center for lunch. Debriefs are an important part of our Abroad Trip programming as they allow our Dance Volunteers and Staff to reflect on experiences and engage and explore topics like leadership, collaboration, traveling abroad, and what dance can provide in new and different situations. Our final Dance Volunteer, Sydney arrived by plane today. We re so excited for her to join in on our trip and share her experiences from her trip to Guatemala.

After lunch we took a 40 minute drive to Angeles de Luz, a group of children and youth living with Down Syndrome. Here we led a workshop for the students and invited all the parents and leaders to participate, they all did! Then, we performed La Puerta and MeMeMe Makes 3. Finally, the students presented one of the traditional dances they’ve learned and prepared for Las fiestas de guelagetza, a gathering of all the regions of the state of Oaxaca that happens in June. This dance was called “La danza de chinas oaxaqueñas”, and involved beautiful skirts and handmade decorative baskets that the women carry on their heads for the entire dance. They invited us to participate and follow along, it was an honor to learn another baile tradicional de Oaxaca.

At the end of the day we had a rehearsal for Sydney’s choreographic piece at CEFAO, where they are generously sharing their space with us during our time here.

miercoles 11 enero

This morning JUNTOS Dance Volunteers workshop and performance for children undergoing cancer treatment at Casa de Luz y Descanso. At first was hard to get some of the children to join in and participate in the movement. But with persistence and kindness, they eventually had all the kids moving to the best of their ability and that their energy allowed. This home is a safe comfortable place that’s full of color and fun for the kids, specifically designed to contrast the white walls of the hospital they have to go to for treatment. We could feel the warmth and love as soon as we entered.

Our Programs Director Cristiana Cavallo led a master class that the JUNTOS DV’s took alongside Compañía Estatal Contemporánea de Oaxaca. Cristiana also is the Associate Director for Jon Lehrer Dance Company and she brought her expertise into the classroom for this group of dancers.

Once we returned back to the Airbnb, the group rehearsed JUNTOS repertory piece Fledge, by Tanya Chianese.

jueves 12 enero

Today we traveled to San Martin Tilcajete, the town in Oaxaca best known for the crafting of alebrijes – brightly colored, hand-carved and hand-painted Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical creatures and animals. We attended a tour of Taller Jacobo y Maria Angeles, learning about how they have historically made paints from completely natural substances. Using copal wood, zinc, lime, pomegranate seeds and other materials, they are able to make 42 different colors completely naturally. We also watched the apprentices in training, carving the animals and then delicately painting them free-hand. We were amazed at the artistry and care behind this tradition!

After this visit, we had a delicious traditional lunch at Ocotlán de Morelos nearby, where we enjoyed tlayudas, tamales, and quesadillas. After we returned to the city, we went straight to our home away from home, CEFAO, for a final rehearsal and dress run through of all of the performance repertory. It was a long but enriching day of culture, concluded with dance!

viernes 13 enero

After a successful collaboration with Compañia Estatal on Wednesday, today we returned to their school for day 2 of our working together. This time, JUNTOS Dance Volunteers led a dynamic cardio warmup for the company, as well as exercises in Horton technique. Then JUNTOS was treated to a full modern class in the Cunningham technique, graciously led by Maestro Manuel. To conclude our time together, Dance Volunteer Mia taught the company her “Community Combo”, to be performed in our final show along with other groups who had learned the combination! It was a beautiful day of exchanging through dance, and a very special opportunity for JUNTOS students to work with professional dancers in the same class setting.

After lunch and some time to rest, we traveled outside of Oaxaca city to a town called Etla, where JUNTOS led a workshop for a local dance studio called VaganovaETECO. They had combined several levels into one group, and created an amazing outdoor space that was big enough for us to hold class. Following this class, Brooke, Mia, and Rhapsody performed Sydney’s choreographic work “Bailar Conmigo” for the students. Upon finishing, the teachers and parents had prepared two amazing surprised for us: First, a master class with a guest teacher in pre-Hispanic dance! And second, a homemade meal of tortas and tostadas, with agua fresca to drink. We spent another hour eating together, playing games, taking photos, learning about each other’s favorite things, and making friendships to last a lifetime!

sábado 14 enero

Saturday – the day of the final show! The performance planned for this day was meant to be a culmination of all of the work, exchange, and community building we did throughout the week. At each workshop we led, each performance we offered, we invited each group to come and not only watch our final show, but to also be a part of it. We were fortunate enough to have 3 community groups participate – Compañia Estatal, VaganovaETECO, and CEFAO’s Ballet Folklorico Tradicional del Estado de Oaxaca. Each group performed between JUNTOS repertory, and brought something different to the celebration. But the most special moment for us was the show’s opening piece, which we entitled “Comunidad” – a short combination that the JUNTOS Dance Volunteers taught to each community. Watching dancers from all different backgrounds, different ages, and different experience levels, from student to professional, performing together was a truly beautiful thing to witness!

In addition, JUNTOS dancers performed 5 pieces of repertory – “Fledge” by Tanya Chianese, “Conexión” by Mia Mellican, “La Puerta” by Julia Horner, “Bailar Conmigo” by Sydney Jordan, and “MeMeMe Makes 3” by Owen Scarlett. It was a wonderful performance and an amazing showing by the entire community!

domingo 15 enero

Today our group had a wonderful time visiting the famous historic cultural site, Monte Albán outside of Oaxaca City. This site holds the ruins of a Pre-Hispanic city inhabited by the indigenous groups the Zapotecs, Olmecs, and Mixtecas at different points throughout history. We reserved the whole morning and afternoon for exploring, learning, and reflecting here. We also held our final debrief of the trip, led by Dance Volunteer and JUNTOS Alum, Brooke Sinton.

Upon returning to Oaxaca City, we all had the rest of the day to relax and enjoy the incredible sites, sounds, smells, and of course the food that this amazing city has to offer! Our last tastes of mole, tacos, and chocolate were the sweetest of the trip.

lunes 16 enero

Departure day! Our four students took off on early flights back to NYC, LA, Boston, and Tampa, ready to jump back into classes for a new semester – some starting the very next day! We were amazed at the determination and openness these students demonstrated during our 12 days together in Oaxaca, seizing every opportunity to learn, absorb, and reflect upon the culture around them. They danced with passion, shared with care, and received everyone and everything graciously. What a gift it was for us to return to Mexico with such a wonderful group of students for the first time in over two years! We look forward to returning again this summer with JUNTOSYouth. Thanks for following along!