“My goal is
just to make
the whole world
~ Ryan Morisette
In Part 1 of this interview- “Why Tango?” Gabriel El Huracán discusses what it was about Tango that drew him into the dance so deeply. I have begun this second half of the interview with some of the words Gabriel left us off with at the end of Part 1. They just seemed so fitting to the theme of Part 2 of this interview: celebrating the beauty of differences, the strength of diversity.
Gabriel: In tango, you’ll have a kid who is twenty years old who is still in college or university and he’s beginning his life. And in the same room, you will have this older tanguero who might be eighty years old, dancing right next to him.
And you might meet a lawyer and a plumber and a stay at home mom all in the same room doing the same dance, sharing the same passion. You have people from all social classes in the same space. You have people from all ages, and people of all different cultures connecting through this common passion.
Tango allows me to make these unlikely encounters that I never would have made in my daily life otherwise. Continue reading
I am really impressed at how quickly it seems you have picked up tango and to such a high level. Do you feel that there is something about your life before tango which contributed to this?
For as long as I can remember, I was always more of a physical person. I was into basketball and into movement in general. I think if you’re an active person and just more physical in your life in general, you’re used to telling your body to move in certain ways. You’re used to isolating certain parts of your body and just having more body awareness. And this is really important, especially in tango. So perhaps that gave me an ‘advantage’ in terms of learning tango quicker.
And you used to be a bartender before, right? I think bartending is an art in itself. A bartender friend of mine even described her job as a dance on some nights. Do you see any parallels between your life as a bartender and the way you teach or dance now?
I never thought about it before, but probably the social skills I developed while being a bartender helped me with my teaching in some ways. I mean, I was already used to expressing myself around many people, through bartending. I was already dealing with so many different types of personalities on a daily basis and in a very busy environment. And I was used to keeping people entertained with humor and stories, and learning how to read what people wanted. It also got me into the habit of navigating around a room full of people. Continue reading
What sparked your interest in bellydance?
I saw my first bellydancer at age 14. It was at a goddess fair in Langley. Being a Bohemian hippy teen, I was super inspired and wanted to learn how to dance like those women. I had studied ballet for several years and then jazz dance, and bellydance was something totally different and up my alley.
I had also been fascinated by Egypt since I was little, and the music seemed to touch a chord deep inside me. I started to look around White Rock, where I grew up, for classes. And I came across a teacher named Nahida who had danced in Egypt. I started taking her classes in 1995, and the rest is history!
Was dance and performance part of your upbringing?
I was a natural performer since pretty much from the time I could walk. My parents and younger sisters don’t dance, but my father loves to perform and be on stage. He was often organizing lip sync contests at his work where he was the lead singer, and was quite addicted to karaoke for a while! My paternal grandmother was a dancer and danced pretty much up to her death at 85. I definitely take after her. She was one of the brightest sparks I ever knew.
“Dance can be very frustrating if you feel that you can’t get a movement.
But we have all been there!
So, as a teacher, I want to try to limit that kind of discouraging experience as much as possible.
The frustration can start to limit our perception of what we can do.
Dance is supposed to make you feel good, at the end of the day. So I want THAT to be the strongest take- home feeling for my students.”
Thank you to my beautiful friend Michelle for connecting me to the Sufi Poets again, particularly Hafiz’s collection- “I Heard God Laughing”.
How fitting that the very first poem focuses on the Freedom to Dance! Dance Me Free- I’m telling you, the signs are EVERYWHERE!
“You are with a Friend Now
Hafiz describes some of the preparations required for the inner ‘Journey of Love’. He urges us to let go of habitual negative attitudes and unnecessary attachments, which only weigh us down. To make this Journey, we must be light, happy and free to go Dancing!” – by Daniel Ladinsky- translator
I wish I could show you
When you are lonely or in darkness,
The Astonishing Light
Of your own Being!
…I say use dance to not only help you bring out this light in yourself and others around you, but to also dance out the darkness.
Even the Sufis, from hundreds of years ago, knew the power and magic of Dance to Heal!
I love how my passion for dance has allowed me to meet people from all over the world-people who, I’m sure, I might not have met otherwise. Some of these individuals are inspiring teachers, others literally take my breath away on the dance floor, and a few have an infectious energy about them that is so uplifting for any who are around them.
Jessica Lamdon happens to be one of those rare souls in the dance world that demonstrates all of these qualities.
Not only is Jessica a beautiful dancer and performer- invited to congresses and dance festivals throughout many different countries, but she is also an encouraging and warm hearted individual. Her personable, welcoming nature motivated me to want to learn Zouk more. But it also helped me feel connected to something at a time when I was feeling lost and heavy hearted.
Sometimes, the right words at the right time can lead us to places we didn’t even know we would go. Continue reading
One man’s quest to retrain his brain- through movement and dance-to overcome a severe movement disorder. Federico Bitti suffers from dystonia, a disease that affects a person’s ability to control their muscles. He is using a new therapy involving neuroplasticity, and specific exercises to retrain the brain, which for Mr. Bitti, includes …DANCE!
It’s stories like these that keep Dance Me Free growing and remind me why the site was born in the first place. There is proof, all over the globe, of how Dance and Music really do heal. You’ve got to watch this one! Incredible! What an inspiration.
And Dance, you’ve done it again!
Part 2- Josué Joseph- On Family, Freedom and Inspiration
(Click here to read La Época Interview Part 1- Josué Joseph- On Faith, Music and Talent)
In Part 1 of this interview, you talked about growing up with the influence of your father- the great bassist Alfonso Panamá. You mentioned how he was always practising and surrounding you with music, making it just a part of your everyday life. But did you ever go through that stage of NOT wanting to be a musician BECAUSE your father was one? Often, kids try to purposely get away from doing what their parents did. Did you ever go through that or was it always just something that you wanted to do?
I feel like I’m in that movie Slumdog Millionaire, because every answer that I give you comes from a story (laughs). So here’s another one:
When I was growing up, my parents did not force any of us to study music. But when I was four years old, we moved to a new house. And in this new house, there was a piano already there. So music just came to us. Taking piano lessons was just normal. My brother did it, my other brother did it, and it passed down to me. It became something that I thought was just something you do.
Josué Joseph– On Faith, Music and Talent
Dance Me Free is all about the power of Dance- and the Arts – to move, inspire and heal. What an honour it is to feature an individual who understands and embodies this concept through a variety of artistic disciplines. Josué Joseph is an award- winning musician, composer, film producer, dancer and international instructor. He is an all around inspiration. It has been a pleasure to get to know more about what drives this artist, and I am thrilled to be able to share his insights and passion for the arts in this in-depth, two-part interview.
Thank you, Josué, for your openness and authenticity. I am grateful to have met you and I know you will continue to inspire people wherever you go.
(Click here to view the full Interview Introduction)
Why the name La Época?
The idea came to me immediately after the death of Tito Puente. I was talking to my father- Alfonso Panamá –who is a legendary bassist of the Palladium. After talking to him, and to Johnny Pacheco, Celia Cruz, Cachao (another famous bassist), and to some other well-known musicians and dancers, I noticed that no one else had created a film which put all of these legends together, to document their legacies. And my concept was different from other films that were done about the Palladium. I didn’t want my film to be about the Palladium. I wanted it to be about “the time” of the Palladium, and to allow people to see the musicians that supported the major orchestras. For example, Tito Puente and Celia Cruz were in other films about the Palladium. But Tito Puente and Celia Cruz were individuals, they weren’t an entire orchestra. So who were the musicians who made these individuals? That’s what I wanted to focus on.