In the beginning of 2012, I started a new chapter in my life which consisted of traveling abroad in Europe alone. Although it seems like a daunting task, I hit the ground running and didn’t look back; I traveled to 23 countries in under 9 months. During that time, I experienced some fantastic sounds, smells, tastes and most certainly sights which included some amazing performances. There were two dance memories that immediately stand out, Spain and Turkey.
The Flamenco experience is from southern Spain and consists of 4 parts, the guitar, the singing, the clapping and finally the dancing. I witnessed a show in a tiny cave that seated no more than 30 people. The guitarist, singer, and dancer, were positioned on a tiny wooden stage. The setting was dark and dramatic as the songs built suspense by starting slow, creating anticipation. The pace would pick up with loud emotion-filled singing, clapping and rapid dancing. This intimate setting was more of the traditional flamenco than a large choreographed performance. The entire evening was full of intensity and passion. To be able to captivate a small room with such simple yet strong movements, to move your arms and hands in such a moving manner is not easy. And to dance, while creating a connection with your musician and singer, makes it even more impressive!
Now Turkey was completely exotic and an exciting part of my travels. It was the most east/south I travelled and I cannot begin to express the history those 3 weeks provided me. There the musical ceremony is accompanied by the whirling dervishes. Not the most exciting of shows, there is simplicity to this tradition that I enjoyed because of the meaning. The dervishes spin around off one foot while reach their right palm up to the sky as their left palm faces down. There is a main spinning dancer surrounded by other dancers. The dance is about a man’s mental journey to achieve truth, perfection and love; to walk away from ego and the materialistic world to achieve perfection to serve humanity. For such a simple movement, there are many details to the performance that warrants more research to get the full picture regarding this historical and ancient ritual.
Marcel Proust, a French novelist, once wrote, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes,” which has resonated with me. Not only were the sights amazing, it was what this journey did for me and how it changed my perspective. Dance can be an amazing journey if you want it to be and if you try to look through new eyes; your skills and dancing should evolve with you. I made this amazing experience happen because I took action. It's important to know the power you have. The power to practice and to achieve greatness in your dancing but it is up to you. In doing so, you will see results and feel a sense of accomplishment by taking initiative. There will be challenges and days that may be difficult but we are stronger than we think. The success you may achieve by pushing through the hard times will be yours and only yours. I feel pride and empowerment when looking back on what I did, not only in dance but in life and everyone deserves to experience the same. I am excited to see what each and every one of you can accomplish, KEEP DANCING!