A Matter of Balance: A Woman's Quest for Health, Harmony & Kick-ass Heels

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What dance can do....

This weekend we'll be celebrating National Dance Day   and I'll be hosting a local event in Stamford.  

I'm still scurrying to master the choreography, as it comes on the heels of my return from China.  I've been to get on stick to blog about my experiences there, but am still processing, catching up and trying to wake up!

Then it  occurred to me that there is a strong tie between some of the work I did on the trip and this weekend's National Dance Day Event. 
I was fortunate enough to participate in the Yale Alumni Service Corp trip this month where I taught in  Xiuning County, which is in the Anhui province. Xiuning (pronounced "Shu-ning") comprises 9 towns and has a population of 274,000. It's located about 5 hours by bus west of Shanghai. 
Over 200 hundred volunteers  (including about 50 kids under 18) taught everything from tin whistles to film making to American Folk tales.  I taught English, Introduction to Theater and Collage Art in the High School and spent afternoons in the Middle School teaching Dance. 
In teaching the afternoon dance classes I was reminded that dance really is a universal language.  Communicating through movement is a beautiful concept and helps to instill confidence.  
Xiuning students strike a pose & learn to dance.

Dance is accessible to ALL levels.   Most (maybe all) of the kids I worked with had never had any type of dance class and it took some time for them to understand that there were no wrong moves. Even some of their teachers were intrigued and slipped into the back row to learn the steps.  It was all about moving and having FUN!.  That that's the message we want to spread at Saturday's event.  Move & enjoy it. Simple.

I recently received this email from one of my student translators who assisted in my dance classes.
How are you recently ? Although you left Xiuning just a few days , I miss you so much . I miss your smile , your dance . I always listen to the song   at home . And when I heard this song , I can not help but to move up . I may not remember all the movements and the sequence of actions, but I still remember some of them . You taught me how to dance . I had never danced like that . Thanks to you , you make me more confident .
Cherry Lee 

What better gift to share with someone than the gift of confidence.  It was truly an honor to watch the joy experienced by these children when they danced. 

All you have to do is Move Your Body  

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ni hao from Xiuning

Ni hao from Xiuning!

It's steamy hot but full of crazy good energy here in Xiuning thus morning.

Today is our first day in front of the classroom and we're ready to rock!

We visited our classrooms yesterday. And while dirty, sparse & brutally hot, the site of the kids hanging over the balcony excitedly waving to us was awesome.

At lunch we hosted the government officials, as they are involved in EVERYTHNG. We were encouraged to go up & toast them individually as customary, rather having the typical group toast we do in America. Let's just say that's a lot of toasts!

Stay tuned as the adventure unfolds...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Freedom & a serving of cole slaw - it must be the 4th!

Photo from here

This weekend I'm finishing up packing for China in between enjoying the usual holiday and family 4th of July festivities.

As I pack, I can't help but wonder how my perspective on freedom, the essence of this holiday, will be impacted during this trip.  Exploring and seeking to understand, or at least getting a glimpse into, another culture, especially one with such vastly different politics, is one of the wonders of traveling.

When I think of my own independence, I initially think of things I've done that I'm proud of, things like: 
  • Buying my first home on my own
  • Traveling solo to places like the Baltic Sea or camping & rafting down the Colorado river 
  • Leasing my first commercial space and diving full time into the entrepreneurial life
Then I think about women who live quite different lives in other lands who do not have such opportunities.  I remember experiences such as visiting the Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, a museum dedicated to the Berlin Wall. Story after story of those trying to escape over the wall amazed me as I thought of the many freedoms I enjoy.  

So while I celebrate my nephew's birthday, spend time with my family, and of course attend the traditional Rzasa 4th of July with the summer blend of cole slaw, I remember how the independence I enjoy has shaped my life.

Whatever independence means to you, this weekend, be grateful for your freedom.