Today was the girls’ last day to practice their dances before the big performance in the central plaza tomorrow for World AIDS day. It has been so much fun and so inspiring to be part of the process with the girls, and I truly admire Amanda’s energy, passion, and the commitment she has shown in the short time she’s been here.

I have always loved dancing, and sometimes I regret not taking lessons and pursuing dance as a kid. I will dance, however, whenever there is an excuse to do so (although my dancing often looks like flailing more than anything). But I definitely dance with joy and energy, regardless of how I might look to others. It’s been so neat to work with the girls see them let down their guard bit by bit, and express themselves in new ways. A substantial part of the dance of the older group was choreographed by the girls themselves, and it was really a stretch for them to jump outside of the box and actually create something of their own. At school, they are so used to following directions and being dictated to, and Amanda wanted to give them a chance to use their creative abilities and have ownership of their performance. Once they got more comfortable with each other and the style of dance, they totally got in the groove and have created something beautiful. Now, we can only encourage them to have confidence and share the joy tomorrow, to dance to their full potential.

We have been practicing in a local theatre called Teatro Hecho a Mano, and the theatre owners have been so gracious in donating the space and accommodating our girls, especially when they are full of energy and are yelling and running around and doing cartwheels all over the place! Today, we also went to a local park to practice outdoors so the girls will be more familiar with the way they will be dancing at the special event! The younger group, as challenging and incredibly energetic as they are, are having a blast and we could all see how happy they were dancing this afternoon. The older ones are a bit more inhibited but regardless of what the dance looks like tomorrow, I am really proud of them for opening up in new ways, and for putting their trust in Amanda and each other.

Amanda and I with the younger group of dancers, just before rehearsal.

The older girls practicing outside at the park.

The girls watching in awe while Amanda gave us a preview of her dance performance.
In one short week we have all worked very hard, we’ve had a lot of fun and we’ve felt the exhaustion of long rehearsal days. I know I have been blessed by Amanda’s presence here, and by working with the girls in a new setting and meeting some beautiful kids from another home, who are really embracing this experience. Dance really can bring people together. I hope that I can continue working with our girls, doing more creative activities and dance sessions similar to what we’ve experienced this week. The process in itself has been very valuable, and I am so looking forward to seeing the girls get out there in front our city tomorrow, giving a voice to the kids who are often unseen and unheard in this community.

Stay tuned for the results of World AIDS Day!

Peace and love,