“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
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!
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!
“Good Lord, show me the way.”
Thank you for choosing Dance as one of those ways…
This video is beautiful. It truly embodies what I think Dance Me Free’s Message.
(Please note, Dance Me Free is not claiming any rights to the video. We just want to share it to thank the creators, choreographers, and artists behind it. Thank you for inspiring more writing, more dancing, and more magic with this breathtaking piece).
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.