THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2017
The whole company has breakfast in the gorgeous Spanish courtyard of the hotel. Once everyone was finished, off we went to Chocholá for our second day of workshops at La Casa de la Cultura.
Before the workshops, the Company heads to Teatro Jose Peon Contreras for a press conference. There are local and national news papers, radio and TV interviewers. The panel includes myself, Director of the International Dance Festival Avant Garde, Cristobal Ocaña, President Alcocer of Chocholá, the Governor of Merida, and other government Council Members. What was supposed to be a 45 minute press conference lasts over 90 minutes. When they introduce me, they ask me to speak to the press and I do my best to speak in Spanish. The moderator very sweetly saves me by saying, "No problemo you can speak in English. We have a translator!" After all the introductions by the panel members, the press seem more interested in asking me questions about my ETD Outreach program in NYC. They are very inquisitive about the 20 movememnt workshops a week we conduct which use dance as a healing modality and therapeutic outlet for self expression. ETD Outreach is specifically tailored for vulnerable populations in NYC who live in supportive housing sites and homeless shelters. As the press conference continues, I ask my dancers to come up on stage to introduce themselves.
Press conferences are always a nerve racking experience for me, especially in another language, but this one went very well and wrapped up with tons of photos! Hopefully it will help promote our show on Saturday and Sunday in Merida and the house will be full!!
We begin another set of triple back to back one-hour workshops with the same groups from the previous day. I think it's going better than yesterday because the kids are already more open and relaxed. It's a rewarding experience to see all the students having so much fun with us. They really seem to enjoy all of the modern dance exercises and improv games they learn from the company. To vary the exercises from yesterday we teach variations of the improv games. We move around the studio space pretending to be animals and make sounds likes monkeys, dogs, birds, giraffes etc. Then we continue working on our modern dance warm up and finish with a “mirroring game.” At this point the kids are really opening up; they're laughing and having a great time.
It seemed like the class ended too soon! Once we finished all of the girls asked for our autographs and we handed out some postcards for them. They were adorable!
The group of older women arrive next. I make up a new game to play with them instead of doing the animals - we use our voices to vocalize small gestures moving in and out of a circle. Within ten minutes, everyone is laughing and getting so creative - it's amazing. With the hour coming to a close, we work on refining the movements from the combination we taught yesterday.
They were so receptive of trying new things and stepping outside of their box. We were so impressed.
This class of kids are the ones who will be performing with us tomorrow so we have work to do! We have an hour and a half to warm them up quickly then teach them three minutes of choreography. The language barrier during this is always challenging. I let my dancers take the reins in this process. Even with all of us trying to teach, sometimes it's a struggle to convey complex choreographic phrases. Luckily the kids are so smart, they're willing to learn and help us through everything.
Within the time frame we were able to choreograph the entire piece and rehearse it a few times! My dancers were a huge help and I couldn’t have done this without them!
Once we finished up teaching our friends in Chochola they gave us some food to go and we headed back to Merida.
The company and I finished up our night sharing stories and a bottle of wine. It was a perfect end to a great day!