Category: Transforming Lives

Dance Revolution: Creating Global Citizens in the Favelas of Rio

Yolanda Demétrio stares out the window of our public bus in Rio de Janeiro, on our way to visit her dance colleagues at Rio’s avant-garde cultural center, Fundição Progresso. Yolanda is a 37-year-old dance teacher, homeowner, social entrepreneur and former favela (Brazilian urban shantytown) resident. She is the founder and director of Espaço Aberto (Open Space), an organization through which Yolanda has nearly …

Disruption in the Immigrant Experience: Colombian Youth Dance Their Way to Continuity

Imagine you are fifteen years old. As an immigrant who has lived in the United States for a few years, you are still trying to find your place. You decide to join a group that dances the traditional dances of your country. You practice every week on Fridays, when you could be going to the movies or hanging out with your friends. Your goal is to perform in that big annual show a lot of people have told you about. That day has finally …

Dancing My Passion

As a dancer, my mentor and role model was the Mexican-born New York dancer, José Limón. His passion permeated every class he taught and every dance that he choreographed, moving me deeply and encouraging me to put all of my own passion and deep feelings into dancing. Many of his themes were of Latin American origin. Ritmo Jondo, choreographed by his own mentor, Doris Humphrey, with music by Silvestre Revueltas, …

Colombia’s Broken Body: El Colegio del Cuerpo: The College of the Body

We Colombians are constantly asking ourselves what we can do for this torn and martyred country from the vantage point of our work activities. Anguished, intimidated and powerless, we see how the language of weapons and death has become entrenched in our society. Every day, more and more Colombians become resigned to the idea that only total warfare, dragging us down to the abyss, will allow us to find a solution. …

Dancehall Democracy: Social Space as Social Agency

“¿De dónde es usted?”, I asked the best Latin dancer I had ever followed around a dance floor. It was several summers ago in “centrally isolated,” as the locals say, Ithaca, New York, where a friendly gay club went Latin on Wednesday nights. Once a week we broke up the bucolic boredom that helps to make Cornell University so intellectually restless. “Sorry I don’t speak Spanish,” said my partner. “Where are you from, then?” I …

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