Even Outside of my Home, I Remain a Homebody

 

There are those who go to Italy to eat, those who go to Italy to sight see, those who go to Italy to take selfies, those who go to Italy to fall in love, those who go to Italy to dance, and those who go to Italy for all of the above.

Views of Capri.

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I had the pleasure of dancing for two weeks in the beautiful town of Sorrento thanks to Staibdance’s summer dance intensive. My days were filled with 9 to 5 classes and rehearsals that pushed me to be a better dancer and better student. With only an hour to an hour and a half of lunch, my days revolved more about movement than reality. I did not go to Italy to see the Coliseum, or to have late night adventures, which I could have and I’m sure some of the people I met in the intensive did. Even outside of my home, I am still a homebody.

Being strong with the wonderful Gavriel Spitzer.

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After days of dancing for so long, from modern dance, to ballet, to Gaga (a movement approach created by Ohad Naharin, look him up ;)), to Batsheva Rep, all I wanted to do was to lie in bed and take it all in. Yet, the intensive included our dinner, a four-course meal in the hotel. Thanks to these meals, which would take up to two hours, I got to converse with some amazing people and learn more about them that their bodies could not tell me. I could analyze them during the day and think, they move like a ballerina, or they are really powerful, or they are very grounded, but as honest as the body can be, it cannot tell me everything. So, having these wonderful conversations livened me with details that I would have otherwise been unaware of if I we all were in different hotels eating by ourselves. Staibdance found a way of making a dance intensive an almost family reunion–a family that still does not know each other that well.

Now, after these two hours, all I really wanted to do was rest. To be honest I could have stayed in my room on my computer doing nothing. You can call me boring, I really don’t mind. The scenario for some nights called for going out to drink, or eating gelato. Most nights we ate gelato. There was this beautiful town right near our hotel called St. Agata, which entertained us with their late night gelato stores and their small but very welcoming bars. Here, we got to dance on top of tables and adapt choreography we had learned that day to some of the latest pop music. I have to admit this was very fun, but the old-man soul in me cannot do this every night, and I am very okay with this. Most nights I stayed up talking with my friends ,the Swedes. Yes, that is their title. Johanna, Josefin, and Siri are some of the most beautiful people I have met in my life, both inside and out. Meeting them gave me so much life and hope in humanity. They showed me what unconditional love looks like, this coming from strangers. They were so open and kind and had no reason not to be. They offered you their hearts with every conversation and proved that genuine love does exist, especially when you feel yourself surrounded by obligated love.

I will try not to gush too much about the Swedes, because I may overdo it. They really touched my heart and saying goodbye today was harder than the Skype break up I had to deal with at 1 am the third day I was there.

The Swedes and I (Left), The Beautiful Johanna and I (Right)

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The reality is that everything happens for a reason. I strongly believe that. Anyone who knows me knows the internal struggle I had for what seemed like a month to choose between attending the American Dance Festival and Staibdance’s summer dance intensive. The American Dance Festival is one of the most prestigious dance intensives in America and hosts so many great artists and companies. My decision to not go there this year is more about what I wanted to do know than what they offer. I hope to attend in the future…I know I will. Yet, Italy called my name this year and for good reason.

I got to step away from everything I knew to meet some wonderful new people that changed my life. I met Nicole and Candace, my lunch and adventure buddies, who each hold beauty and power as people and movers. I met Dina and Gavriel, a Palestinian and an Israeli, and got to be present in conversations about the current situation in Gaza and Israel. To hear them have their conversation, filled with respect and thoughtfulness, proves that peace and understanding is possible. I met Nick, an actor who likes his scotch and is even more of a homebody than me. I met Caitlin and Laura, two sweethearts from Atlanta, and Laura is proof that an awkward Gaga partnership can lead to a beautiful friendship. I met Loris and I cannot explain to anybody how amazing she is, she can sing “Fancy” word for word, for me, that is a talent. I can’t rap, period. Now, these are only some of the people, and I could write a 10-page paper on everyone I met. Meeting all of these beautiful people, who now feel like family, is what made my experience magical.

Now the dancing, that was hard. I have been pushed before, but trying to do Bathsheva Rep in a full classroom is like being in a warzone. Yet, that is the reason I love dance intensives. You are surrounded by people who worked just as hard to be there and want to be there. Everyone is on the same page and is willing to be vulnerable to find something new. Every day I was exposed to something by the people around me, whether it be about themselves, about Italy or about me. It showed me possibilities I had never explored.The funny thing is that as beautiful as Italy was, it was simply a backdrop to this live painting that I got to be a part of.

I do feel the need to do the whole Oscar speech mention, because I had the pleasure of being taught by some amazing people. They are smart and talented, and I hope something they taught me stays with me; if I can reach a small level of their brilliance, then I have a shot of making it. Jennifer Salk is one of the smartest people I know that it is overwhelming. She is so smart yet so sweet ,and I had the pleasure of working with her as teacher and choreographer. Her knowledge of the body is amazing, and makes me want to go read an anatomy book. Kathleen Wessel is extremely down-to-earth and gorgeous. You watch her dance and you can not take your eyes off her. Her eye to detail helped in teaching phrasing, and my abs were in shape after her Pilates class; if only I could carry her around in my pocket. Gavriel Spitzer is one of the most jovial people I’ve met, yet get into a room with him teaching and it is a different atmosphere. His respect for Gaga and the way he teaches makes you not only sweat but find a new way of moving that you did not know yesterday. Sarah Hilmer is simply gorgeous. She taught a contemporary ballet class unlike any I’ve taken and I was so happy. She kept the center of gravity shifting, which I’ve always loved doing. She is also an extremely kind spirit and calls me Fernando Ricardo Antonio (not my real name, but she gets permission). I won’t leave out Nick Surbey who taught us acting for the ensemble. It was such a fun class, yet I learned more by doing than by simply talking about what it means to be in an ensemble. Last, but not least, George Staib, the mastermind behind it all, basically takes everything we do in the intensive and tries to put it in a nutshell so that we can find the practice of all these different forms in our body. He was the father figure of the intensive and cared so much about us. George never let anyone go ignored or unacknowledged.

Dinner with some of the best people.

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If you ask me what I learned or what I took from this experience, I will probably tell you a rather generic answer, that is, generic for me. I am still absorbing what I learned in Italy and how this beautiful country took me in and then let me fly away a completely different dancer and person. If anything, I have realized that I love what I do, I love meeting new people, dancers are some of the smartest people out there, and that in the worst of times you are never truly alone. Italy was amazing, but most importantly, the people I met in Italy changed my life. I will never be able to thank them enough. I hope to love, dance, learn, and inspire as much as I was while there. I may be a homebody, but when you have great people to visit you at your home (like the day 10 dancers just walked into my room) then you will always be comfortable staying at home.

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Introduction in a non-linear and possibly non-coherent form

So I have not written in a while, things might be rusty and lately my vocabulary feels very limited, but I will try to explore the beauty of my mind for you to enjoy in a post.

I just recently graduated college and am officially an adult, not that you get a name tag or a badge giving you that title, and I guess I could put off being an adult for a couple of years, but what does being an adult really mean? How are you an adult? Or when do you suddenly become one?
This questions haunt me around all day, but I do not really want the answers, and I do not expect to find the answer in this roundabout post.

Funnily enough, what I do or what I want to do is not seen by many as something very adult like. Being a dancer is not taken seriously by many of those around me, and maybe I’m just not in the mood to explain how important dance is to our society, to culture, to livelihood, to the bettering of people and how my job as a dancer is not simply to flail around but rather to present to the world that a lifestyle of movement is the only lifestyle there is. Now it might sound weird, because we’re always moving, even when we’re “not moving” there are cells in our bodies moving, but in this particular time of human history, people do not live. I say this as I write all these words down in a computer, glued to it almost like a zombie. But dance, takes me away from this, even if it’s for a few hours, or even all of my day. Dance forces me (an enjoyable force that is) to move and live and challenge my body and not for a price, not to lose some inches, not to get from here to the park, not even to get paid at the moment. I dance because I can and because I want to.

The desire to look pretty is a perk, not even the main reason, because what looks good to you may look bad to another. More importantly, what feels good to you may not be attractive to somebody, but heck, it feels good. Many movement approaches that are relatively new, or to be more precise, are now acquiring a greater following to my knowledge, approach dancing this way. They approach the hyper-active, hyper-aware, hyper-creative, hyper-engaged form of art that is dance in a way that may require no effort. If the same movement can be done with 70 percent less energy, then find a way to do it. Saving energy makes it more manageable for any age, it can also be much more enjoyable and even look better. This control or understanding of the body to utilize it without force is not an easy ability to gain. Instead, it is developed.

I am working on developing such an approach for myself, and hopefully acquiring my super saiyan powers at the same time, but I digress. The purpose of dancers is something that I am still trying to define for myself. Aside from being beautiful people that can entertain and enlighten the world with a usage of the body in accordance to music, space, text, lighting, time, etc., I am still trying to figure out what dancers offer the world. I have read many quotes, and books from great choreographers from both past and present that have offered some light on this. There are even articles roaming around Facebook discussing such a thing, but I like to find my own perspective, you know, for when I write my own book. I know that dance, like art, is necessary in our world, it sheds light on a truth that is otherwise not understandable at plain sight. Dance can stretch and cover themes beyond words and images.

Before I stray into the philosophical, which is not my field of expertise, I will attempt to conclude. I know, you’re not supposed to announce a conclusion, but who cares? As you probably ask yourself why you’re still reading this, or if there even is a point to this post (I am asking the same question), realize that nothing is worthless. As I hope to share my career with all of you through the art of writing, and maybe even some pictures here and there, I am just another writer, another dancer, trying to be in a world that sometimes does not let us be. So many voices around me have an opinion on what I should do or who I should be, even looks already tell stories of the future I should have, but I plan to write my own book, not buy it from someone else. It is hard to do all that you want with student loans and a desire to please people, but the sooner you learn people can never be pleased the sooner you let go of that.

Wasn’t I supposed to be concluding?

Anyways, dancers, like myself, are a unique breed of people. Of course, you can say that about any group of people. Yet, I am here to represent dancers because we are all around you. Some might even be your boss, your next door neighbor, that girl you were eying in yoga or that waiter you didn’t tip so well. They might not be professional dancers, but like my aunt who takes flamenco once a week and it is one of the happiest hours of her week, dance is a passion that does not need to be professionalized, but it also should not be discarded. Dancers are artists and athletes, and many of them pursuing a dream under the scrutiny of idealized body types and stereotypes of short careers and being dumb.

The problem with all of that is that I do not see dance as a short term career. I do not just want to be a dancer for a while, I may not perform my whole life, but I will be a dancer my whole life. I will share dance with whomever wants to. I do not leave dance in an office cubicle, or in the studio, it stays with me everywhere I go. It is a lifestyle I chose to follow the moment I stepped into a ballet class at age 16. Some people leave this lifestyle, just like some people stop eating meat, it’s not the same but I’m making it the same. Dance is not a work I do, it is not a career, because gosh that’s all everyone wants, a job and a career, well I want a life, not one separate from my job. Yes, there are people that get paid to dance, choreograph, teach dance, study dance, notate dance, but the passion exists outside of a salary. You can see that in all the under payed dancers, and even more in the ones that are not getting paid at all. Most dancers are not getting million dollar contracts with advertisers, most dancers need multiple jobs to be able to do the one thing they really want to do.

I am currently awaiting the day I will leave for a 2 week summer intensive in Italy. After this, I will come back to the beautiful island of Puerto Rico to keep following this lifestyle that I so adore and wish to have. It is not based on lavishes but in the extremely pleasurable experience of dancing, covered in sweat with achy muscles and blistered feet. I hope to share my adventures, and from time to time reviews of dance works, because I love to review work, in a much more edited and cleaned way than this post. I promise.

It seems I have answered nothing that I asked at the beginning of this post, or even made well-structured transitions (who needs transitions, anyways? Saying this as a dance is kind of an oxymoron), but I have laid down ideas that I hope to keep growing and tending to in the future. As I run away from adulthood, I do not do so to be irresponsible or reckless, but because most adults I know seem to not understand the way I think or think to small. I’ve heard before that the older you get the more you get set on your ways, well I’d rather not. I already have patterns and ticks I repeat on a daily, both as a person and dancer, but I’d like to believe there is more room to grow and change than to sink into your own self. There is so much world out there, and I want to change it and be changed in return. So in a week I may be acting like an adult, but in a month I may be acting like a kid, might as well keep things interesting, right?

Otherwise good day and hope you find your inner dancer today. Go out and feel, you just might be surprised.

Sincerely,
FARC