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  • Writer's pictureLindsey St Onge

Day 3 from Katie Smith's Move-Ex Experience: July 2012

This morning I woke up pretty early at 5:00am and did not feel very well. OH NO! This can't happen on day 3! Luckily, I got to sleep in till 9am and when I woke up, ate my Cherrios and toast, I felt much better.

We were off at 9:30am in our big yellow school bus/van to The University of Panamá were the lovely Typhani (that I spoke off yesterday) would be teaching us, as well as the dance students at the university, a two hour jazz/contemporary class.

Before class, a United States representative from the Embassy in Panamá came to see what we were up to. They have been huge supporters of Movement Exchange since day 1, three years ago.

One of the guys was very tall and I kicked him! Opps! However, he spoke great English and we were able to communicate my apologizes. The volunteers call him my 'boyfriend' because he would keep talking to me and was always my partner when we did the routine in pairs. Sorry Cam, I guess I'm gonna run off with some young, half black Panamanian dude. Haha!

We hopped back into the big amarillo van and drove back to Casco Viejo. On the way I got to talk with Typhani more about her life story. I love learning about people!

6 members of the group got their lunch on the bus and went to work at Malambo Orphanage from 1-3pm.

The other half of us ate lunch (chicken, rice, lentils, and plantains) at the hostel, prepped for our class, and 2 volunteers went to Hogar. The other 3 of us (my group, Brigitte & Blair) walked to Fundacion San Felipe right around the corner from our hostel. It is a beautiful open space that has a great program set up for the children. We were expecting a lot of students but they slowly trickled in to be about 15 girls, plus one boy.

We started off class with names and introductions! I am so excited to be getting better at speaking Spanish with everyone here! We began by playing a tangle game that got everyone up and interacting. Then, I led the class in a fun and unique ballet warm-up that introduced the 6 ballet positions and stretched and warmed up our legs. We were excited that they were quickly learning the positions and movement. Next, we worked across the floor with skipping and partnering. For example: we would have person 1 walk out and make a shape then their partner, person two, would go make another shape around them and it continued on across the floor. After we played a freeze dance, first solo, then with partners, and finally as a group. We would play the music and when it stopped you had to pose with the word we yelled out: Big. Small. Tall. Circle etc. Last, we played a mirroring game with partners. One lead with a body part and the partner had to mirror them very carefully and they each choreographed a short phrase and performed it in front of the class. Muy Bueno! I helped finish off the class with some leg stretches, frog leaps, and some creative movement.

We had two kids (one was the boy) in the group that supposedly were not in the program but we for sure let them dance with us! They were very shy and I had to persuade them to let go and be silly and have fun. By the end of class they were smiling and laughing and dancing so fun and goofy! LOVE THEM!

I think that all the kids really loved having us and when we finished, I let down my hair and they girls flocked to me and began touching my hair! So precious!

We walked back to the hostel, got 'barked' at?, and jumped in the van to head off to a class at Escuela nacional de Danza (The National Dance School). Blair from our group taught a two hour modern/contact improv class to the school of ballet dancers. They got SO much out of it! It was great to see some of the same movement that I had learned in my modern dance classes and master classes at BYU being taught by a California native. Dance- a small world.

My partner spoke English which made me ONE HAPPY GIRL! Her name was Kiki and I love her! She is an amazing ballerina in the third level of the school and makes me smile!

Typhani began to call me 'Glitter" (because now I poo glitter) but said that wasn't pretty enough and named me 'mariposa' which means 'butterfly'.

After teaching and class we split up into two groups and walked to dinner. I decided to head with three other girls to a cafe down the street. I got a yummy fresh deli sandwich with a sweet apple sauce on it and I also bought a croissant and strawberry mentos! We got picked up by one of the dance teachers which was so nice that we didn't have to walk back to the school in the dark.

Family: I promise that I am being safe!

When we got back to the school we had a two hour rehearsal with Diguar Sapi that is setting choreography on us to be performed at the National Theater of Panamá on Sunday! So exciting. Diguar does really intense choreo but doesn't care about technical differences and levels. He is very into indigenous movement and culture and about preserving the culture in here in Panamá and preserve their language, culture, and dress. He isn't very strict and likes for you to make the movement your own. A lot of his movement is based Kuna indigenous dance that is a proud culture.

Basically, he kicked our trash! We were so tired after a long but beautiful day of movement, people, children, and culture. We drove back home on our big new bus and spent the night watching videos and seeing all the talent that this program has brought together.

Oh yeah, pretty sure that I sprained my left ankle today... I have a bug bite on it the size of South Carolina and can't tell if the pain is from that or if I really did sprain it. Time will tell.

I am so so grateful to be in this program, with these people, and in this country. I want to always remember the feelings that I have here and never take the things that my country has for granted.

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