No hay que llorar; el tiempo pasará, tú verás.
(There’s no reason to cry; the time will pass, you’ll see.)
Podrás abrasarme de nuevo, tú veras.
(You’ll be able to hug me again, you’ll see.)
Que no hay que llorar! Que conmigo estarás de nuevo!
(That there’s no reason to cry! That you’ll be with me, again!)
Que podrás adorarme de nuevo! Yo se que no me olvidarás!
(That you’ll be able to adore me, again! I know that you won’t forget me!)
Each of these lines is written across my hallway mirrors. The words are the lyrics to the song Verás, which I was introduced to in a live performance at the 1st Vancouver Mini Congress this fall. I don’t remember ever making it to the early parts of any dance congresses before. Yet, something that weekend compelled me show up early for a film being shown at the congress.
Initially, I thought my decision stemmed mainly from me feeling antisocial, not wanting to keep burdening others with my sadness and heartbreak over my mom’s sudden passing a few months ago. I thought maybe engrossing myself in the film would just keep my mind busy without me having to put on an inauthentic happy face for everyone. But, surprisingly, the inspiration that I got from the film- Part IV “La Época – Salsa 50 Years From Now– led me to wanting to see another film –Part V La Época – This Thing Called Kizomba– by the same producer the following night. And this sparked an interest in me to take two Mambo workshops, taught by the same artist during the day.
Learning about the history of the dances we dance today, learning about their rhythms and roots, put me in a place of appreciation for my own roots, connecting me back to the faith and values my mom instilled in us. And besides that, it was just fun to feel what dancing ‘On 2 and half’ felt like! I remember moments when I actually was genuinely smiling and enjoying myself during the workshop. I felt like I had a bit more grounding than the lost feeling I had when I first arrived.
I could have easily gone home after. I was really exhausted. But again, something kept me at the hotel where the performances were going to begin. And it wasn’t until the very last performance that Saturday night that I realized that everything that weekend was leading me to that particular show- Verás composed and performed by La Época.
I was standing at the very back of the room, thinking I should find a seat. But the first few notes stopped me exactly where I was. And then the beautiful vocals came on and as each word revealed more of the story, I couldn’t move. I just didn’t want to miss anything. The dancers – Teresa García and Rita Kizilos- were so captivating with their fluidity. But it was the lyrics- their resonance and their meaning- that finally just gripped me. I felt like the words were being spoken TO me, like I was really meant to be there at that moment to receive them. But they were in Spanish.
And within just a couple of phrases, I could feel the tears come on. I tried to hold them in. There were so many people around me; I didn’t want them to see me crying like that. But at a certain point, I completely forgot about everyone else. I was so taken by the music and the message in it that the tears just came flooding through and my face was soaked by the end of it.
I couldn’t figure out if it was God, the Universe, or my Mom speaking to me, or just some strange coincidence. But I’d like to believe that it was meant to be. Because those words, that music, was what I needed to hear, WANTED to hear, for so many months, and I didn’t even know it until they showed up right there in front of me.
I shouldn’t have been surprised that the show was by the same artist who had caught my attention with his films and unique workshops earlier- Josué Joseph. I knew nothing about this individual before that weekend. I just kept seeing posters of him with the name “La Época” across the top- advertisements of him being one of the main features of the congress. And in the end, I felt like his art, and that song in particular, was my reason for being there. And how refreshing to see that even in person, Josué was just as genuine and open as he was in his music. Not caught up in fame or the limelight, he and his parents took extra time to let me know how much my response to the show meant to them. And he even signed one of his DVD’s in memory of my mom for me.
While a different ‘artist’ that same weekend made me feel as if the congress was not an appropriate place or time to talk about or even THINK about my mom (“No one wants to talk about your mom all the time,” was what this other ‘artist’ said to me), Josué, on the other hand, reminded me that actually, art is exactly where these connections and healing can take place. Josué’s understanding of the power of art, “to heal, and possibly to even extend time,” as he so aptly puts it, exemplifies what Dance Me Free is about. Dance is an art, and these various forms of ART – music, dance, singing, etc- can be magical in the way they can touch and move us so deeply. Josué Joseph combines all of these, including teaching, and producing, to reach and inspire others.
“Art allows us to resolve situations which were not resolved in real life; this helps us to heal,” Josué explained. The proof of his words can be seen even in just the little bit of the story I know of how ‘Verás’ was produced and composed. The song itself was written in memory of Mambo legend Chuíto Valdés*, who was a dear friend to Josué’s father. After Valdés passed away, Josué was inspired to write the song. And that song- that piece of music-inspires me to learn more about Valdés and his music. And it has also become like a prayer for me.
Even when the track is not playing out loud, the music and words play in my head. It’s a prayer that allows me some hope in connecting me to my mom, but also to connecting different worlds- heaven and earth. And since it touched me so profoundly in just one night, imagine how many other people, how many other souls this music, this art, has, and will continue to reach throughout the years.
Josué talked about art as a means to relive memories passed, but I believe he has also proven to be able to transcend time and space through his art. To accomplish that kind of connection with people you don’t even know, to understand how to express emotions and experiences that touch others through one’s art – to me, that’s a sign of a REAL artist.
Dance Me Free is honoured to be featuring Josué Joseph in an interview. Learn the story behind this unique artist and his views on talent, faith and family.
Thank you for your open and honest answers, Josué . They ring true to the openness you share in your music and films. And that reminded me not to fear being open and authentic myself. That your art impacts people long after your song or performance or lesson is over is a huge testament to how you are definitely doing what you were put here to do.
To view Part 1 of the Interview, click here:
*Inspired by Chuíto Valdés – the rehearsal pianist of Arsenio Rodriguez and Beny Moré, in Cuba. Born in 1922 in Matanzas, Cuba .. and died in 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina