Monday, July 30, 2012

More than a Just Dance... by Miki Cabrera

Some time back I was going through some hard times. I wanted more than ever to keep dancing, except I was inevitably hitting an artistic block . On one of the days when I was feeling my lowest, I arrived at Urban Artistry rehearsal and coincidentally ended up having a conversation with one of our directors about my goals in dance. I was asked one simple, yet strong question that really hit home…
He said to me “ Well, you have to ask yourself, why do you continue to dance?” 

I thought to myself, “Well I love it, it's fun… it makes me look cool?” LOL

But if the answer were that simple it would not have gone to the trouble of being asked. The amount of effort that continuing to better myself in dance takes couldn’t be that vain. Somewhere along the way I had forgotten the real truth. I needed to look to my past before I could move forward. I remembered that I always felt an unexplainable need to continue dancing - something bigger than myself,  a connection to others around me. It was like fate, because this was a question I obviously needed to be asking myself. So,  I did and I will attempt to put into bear with me ;-)

Looking back, dance has always affected me positively in life and it continues to do so now. I accomplished so much more when I was dancing, I had bigger aspirations in other areas of life. The late rehearsals taught me diligence, and the physical demands pushed me to be healthier so I could continue dancing. I’ve had to work even harder to continue now as a parent. Though I love dance more than words can express, it comes second to one, and that is my beautiful daughter Joella . She’s also the most important reason I keep dancing.

When she began to show interest in dance I was so happy encourage her in her inclinations. I’m always happy to encourage any activity she wants to try, artistic or not. 
I’ve heard again and again how extra curricular activities  improve  self esteem and help kids do better in other areas of their life.  As for  my own personal experience:  it really just makes for one happy,outgoing little girl! But why should these activities stop when we are children? I believe adults need the same in their lives. At least,  I know I do. It shouldn’t stop once we “grow up”. I’m blessed to be able to lead her by example and show that it's good for me too.

Dreaming big dreams together!

These past 4-5 yrs I’ve had to bring Joella from one class to another and then to rehearsals while she colors or something on the side. Now that she is dancing,  we are balancing her classes and practices with mine. It got pretty hectic at times trying to balance things, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I’m her biggest cheerleader and she is mine.  She has witnessed me fight to keep dance in my life, and I think that it is something she will never forget.  Kids look to our actions more than our words for guidance; we are their biggest heroes.

I also had a hero once and still do…my dad. He is an amazing musician who has dedicated himself to it professionally since he was 16 years old.  I grew up around him playing music in Bolivia and admired his talent so much. He noticed my love for dance early on and enrolled me in my first Jazz dance class. Something that back then was somewhat of a luxury.  His faith in me is the biggest reason I ever even had to courage to push myself in dance. All the music and arts he exposed me to shaped who I am today and I’m eternally grateful to him.

I remember how I used to dance to loud music at parties amongst the adults till late hours of the night with him. No matter where I went; if there was music, I was dancing. I was that kid who just JUMPED at the opportunity to dance for an audience. There was one style of music that made me want to dance so much more than the others, it made my little heart flutter when it came on…. Bolivian Saya. I would pretend to dance caporales to it, even though I had no idea how back then. Once a year during the carnival, the parade would come through Cochabamba, Bolivia.  This was one of the highlights of my years growing up. I wanted to be a dancer in the parade so badly. It just made me so eager to start dancing as soon as I heard saya music approaching and caught glimpse of the colorful Caporal costumes. The only other time I fell so in love with a style of music  and dance this strongly, in case you hadn’t guessed it, was when I was introduced to soulful house music.  
No matter the style of music… we all know the feeling <3  

It's truly never too late fall in love with our passions again.  Never too late to try to learn more, to reach for what we want fact as adults we NEED to keep learning. I’ve been trying to adopt this mentality and because of it, I FINALLY said F** it  and started dancing caporales with a group for the first time this year. It's one of the best decisions I ever made.  I freaking love it. It’s reminded me even more of all the reasons why I dance and how much I love my country’s culture.

In the beginning, my biggest motivation for dancing Caporal was to expose my little one to her culture and inspire her when she watched mommy dance. But honestly, it's her who truly inspires me when I watch her practice her little choreographies all around the house.  She even tries to teach me a thing or two… she is MY little hero <3 
There is much to find within ourselves to make us better dancers, better artists, better people, even better parents if we only allow ourselves to do so. Little by little I have been shown the answers to why I dance and I have Urban Artistry to thank for that. It was meant to be that I would find myself in a group who believes in the importance of the culture behind the music, the history behind the movements and in passing on these traditions while giving credit to the people who paved the way for us.  We all have other responsibilities outside of dance, but we come together for the same cause. I’m so grateful to be part of something so positive and real. With Urban Artistry it is truly more than just dance.

Every time I enter a house club or cypher, step on a stage or arrive at a rehearsal alongside other dancers…I feel I’m home. It gives me so much to look forward to. When I dance I can feel my pains, my joys, my insecurities ,my strengths, my cultural past and the passion in my heart.  It all can come through in that moment and I’m okay with that, because I want to share it with those who feel the way that I do. Positive or negative it is all inspiration for my art. For all intensive purposes, this is my religion, the higher power I trust to heal my soul. When I dance I am WHOLE!

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