A Joyful Journey CP Africa Trip
Part Eleven: Fully Alive in the Movement

Three months have come and gone since we left for Ethiopia and yet the connection with the country only seems to have grown stronger. August 14th, 2014 will forever be a day that changed my life. Even now since I have moved to New York, I think back to those days in Ethiopia. I remember driving through Addis Ababa and talking with Jeremy about how we were in the New York of Ethiopia. And it wasn’t until we were teaching at Yod Gym that I felt this were true.

My wise older brother, Peter, told me once that ‘where you are most fully alive is where God is calling you…and only there will you find a home.’ Well, I have to admit, for me I find my home in dance. When Ellen, Bianca, and I walked into Yod Gym to teach our first dance class in Ethiopia, we had no idea what to expect. Jeremy had been communicating with Addisu and Junaid, from Destino, about getting the word out about our “American Hip Hop” class, but we had no idea who would show up, much less the level of the dancers that would come. Boy, were we in for a pleasant surprise! We had four INCREDIBLE, Ethiopian, male dancers show up to our first class. They picked up our choreography like they were pros. Having the opportunity to teach this art form I love so much in another country to talented dancers was a dream come true. I felt like I was in a little escape from the world outside. I was away from the poverty, the suffering, the hardship and welcomed into a world of movement and discovery. I was so alive. I was in the New York of Ethiopia. I was in Addis Ababa.

Needless to say, day one of our teaching adventures was a success. All we had to do now was prepare for round two at Yod Gym! Since the whole first class consisted of a posse of guys working out in the gym stopping by to stare at the forengis teaching this strange class to locals, we were hoping for a slightly bigger class the next day. But with the pounding of the pouring rain on the tin roof, we walked into the gym the next day only to stare at the same four familiar faces. And we thought, hey, we still have incredible dancers to teach! After about an hour of the class, the rain subsiding and teaching half of the combination, our class was brought to a halt by the entrance of a mob of thirty sopping wet Ethiopian men and women ready to dance! Did I mention earlier that Ethiopians don’t run on a schedule? With this sudden gain in classroom attendance, we made the decision to, as Maria from the Sound of Music would say, “start at the very beginning.” Needless to say, our class ran quite a bit into overtime.

My words are lacking when it comes to describing how I felt leaving the gym that day. On the first day, we thought that the dancers knew English because of how easily they picked up the choreography. Come to find out when we tried to get to know them better the next day, they knew very little of our native language. They simply understood us through movement. Dance had once again given all of us a home; a place where we had felt most fully alive. We found our own tongue; speaking both Amharic and English, without ever saying a word. So no matter where you live…whether it be Texas, Ethiopia, or New York…find your home in the rhythm, the movement, and the connection of dance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Dance is the hidden language of the soul” ~ Martha Graham

Evelyn Joy Fontana

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