As a dance instructor for over ten years, a Spanish-language learner for two years, an avid traveler for 1.5 years, and someone anxiously awaiting the combination of these 3 loves of mine for months now, today was the first day I ever taught a dance class in Spanish abroad. Day 1 of my Movement Exchange experience in Panama City brought my group of 8 instructors to the Malambo Orphanage. This colorful and vibrant location houses young girls of all ages full of smiles and laughter, fun and games, wit and jests, and some of the most outgoing souls I have had the opportunity to meet.
For weeks I have been studying hard, attempting to learn as many dance phrases in Spanish as possible in order to clearly teach my lesson plan to the younger group of girls. I worried that if they couldn't understand my directions maybe I would lose their attention or would struggle to connect with me. Two minutes into class I realized how silly this fear really was. While I am so glad I have studied so hard, those little movers and I already share a common language - dance. And lovers of dance share a common spirit - the desire to move, to have fun, to connect, to hug, to touch, to listen to music, to truly feel free.
Through this experience today I feel free. Free to have confidence in myself as a teacher, free to allow dance to create connections for me, free to love these young girls as much as I can in our short time together, and free to dream of all of the wonderful experiences dance has and will continue to bring to my life.
I was so incredibly thankful for today's class for so many reasons and can not wait to jam into these next few days. Whether it's learning a language, going to a foreign country, dancing, or whatever your own dreams may be, feel confident in yourself and fly!
- Stephanie Deere, Dance Diplomat