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What Dance Has Taught Me… Catherine & Cristiana

By November 24, 2020No Comments





Catherine VanNess, JUNTOS Board President

What first comes to mind when I think about what dance has taught me over more than two decades is perseverance and a strong work ethic. In the face of physical and psychological challenges, through practice and the guidance of many wonderful teachers, I have built up a great amount of resilience. The concept of rehearsing a piece week after week or practicing steps in daily classes until you are satisfied with the result is something that I have translated into my work, in school and later professionally, to strive for near-perfection. Being humble enough to take corrections from those who are more experienced than me is also something that has served me well in many facets of life outside of the studio.
What dancing with JUNTOS taught me is that there is so much more to be gained from dance than perfecting a series of steps. Sharing space with people from different cultures and realizing our shared love and joy in dance opened up a whole new purpose for me. Finding community and celebrating our shared humanity is something that I have continued to strive for in the various places I have lived since graduating from my role as a JUNTOS dance volunteer. Especially in today’s divided world, I try to be quicker to identify common ground and imagine shared experiences that can ground us rather than create divisions based on our differences. What I learned by working with JUNTOS has reinforced the importance of the arts in building connections between people who really aren’t so different in the end.






Cristiana Cavallo, JUNTOS Programs Manager

The most valuable lesson that dance has taught me is that it is not what we do, but how we do it, that will dictate the value of our experiences and will measure the impact we have on our world. Too often in life we focus more on the product than the process, neglecting the lessons that we learn along the way. So focused on the end goal, the outcome, the finish line, we forget to fully invest in the steps that get us there – and this is where the benefits really lie.

Hands down, the most valuable, enlightening, and memorable experiences I have had in dance have taken place in the classroom. Whether as a student absorbing information, tackling challenges, and creating community, or as a teacher discovering the ways I can share and connect with students – the dance class experience has always been my richest and most fulfilling environment. Here I have learned that the performance – the stage, the lights, the costumes – is just the product. It is the journey, the hours of practice, the thought, the preparation, and the teamwork that will determine its value. And I believe this is true for all work.

Having joined the JUNTOS team during a time when travel and in-person experiences are not possible, the challenge has become this: How do we provide opportunities for dancers and communities to connect across the globe, when we can’t be together physically? Again, I return to the process. We as a team are putting the time, the thought, and the practice into exploring a new virtual world where we can create these experiences. We are brainstorming, we are testing new ideas, we are listening, and most importantly – we are working as a team. Keeping in mind yet again that it is HOW we approach this new world – with optimism, creativity, adaptability, and determination – that will bring us and our communities the success we strive for. The journey is the real gift – the performance is the bow on top!




GivingTuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world.

GivingTuesday was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. Over the past seven years, it has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity.

This December 1st JUNTOS will participate in this global celebration by kicking off a week of giving with sharing photos, videos, virtual performances, and more! JUNTOS believes in the power of dance to improve mental and physical health, creativity and leadership skills, and community building through arts education and dance performance in our Community Alliances in Latin America as well as our high school and college aged Dance Volunteers.