“My goal is
just to make
the whole world
~ Ryan Morisette
I know you first as a musician – specifically as a keyboardist and trumpeter. You have been playing music since you were a child, right?
Yes, I’ve been playing music since I was very young. I grew up on a farm and in our home there, my family had an old upright baby grand piano. When I was a toddler, I would crawl over to the piano and pound on the pedals. This would shake the sound board enough to make some noise. My mom eventually figured out that I was interested in the instrument, so she popped me in my high chair and sat me in front of the keyboard. I would happily plunk away for hours on end.
Wow! That’s amazing. And kind of adorable (smiles).
Yeah, I think I have improved a bit since those days (smiles), but we’re not sure since we can’t find the cassette tapes that contained my recordings that were made on our small Fisher Price recorder.
Aww… haha (smiles).
I love how it seems that you chose the instrument, and your mom saw your interest in it and just encouraged it, rather than you being pushed into it. I think forcing kids to take music lessons can sometimes actually make them lose all enjoyment in it.
Yes, well I did eventually start taking piano lessons in grade 2, and was off and on with them throughout my grade school days. I always enjoyed improvising on the instrument and creating my own music…often much more than practising what was assigned to me by my various teachers. As such, piano, has always been my first love and I can still entertain myself for hours on it. I just love being able to create lush harmonies and lay creative melodies over them. Continue reading
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
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.”
Excerpt taken directly from the original article-
Making Dance/Movement Therapy the Therapy of Choice for Autism Spectrum Disorder By Danielle Fraenkel:
“Phillip Martin-Nelson, principal dancer of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, who was diagnosed with severe autism, credits ballet with saving his life. Similarly, dance classes have been a driving force for Leon*, a 15 year old, high functioning, home schooled male, diagnosed as a young child, with Autism Spectrum Disorder.”
Here is the link to see the original article in its entirety from its original source- The American Dance Therapy Association:
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.
Dance Me Free has been on a bit of a hiatus over the past few months. But we are so happy to be back, not just with some new and exciting interviews, videos and events, but also with an outstanding young dancer as our new photo feature for this season!
All the way from Provence, France, the beautiful Marilou caught my attention with her stunning features, her passionate poses and the way she makes dancing look so effortless and freeing. Continue reading