“…But those unheard are sweeter”

Heard melodies are sweet,

but those unheard are sweeter.”

~John Keats

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Recently, I saw this quote from Ode to a Grecian Urn tattooed on a girl’s back shoulder.  I am glad there was a huge treble clef attached to it, which drew my attention to the words.

So many memories of English Literature class, and falling in love with Romantic poets were brought back to me in that moment. And Professor Lee Johnson, my favorite professor, who instilled such a passion for poetry and words in me, even though I was actually in sciences at that time.

Those words meant something in particular to me at that time, according to what was going on in my life then. I wasn’t dancing, and I definitely wasn’t singing when I first read those poets and Keats’ ode.  But I understood and got a taste of those “unheard melodies” in the form of pauses and breaths in the middle of certain sentences or poetry lines.  Writing and reading took on this whole other sensation for me because of this.   So did fine art, as I would notice not just the strokes and colours on the canvases I painted or drew on, but also the negative space within those creations.  I could see the beauty of the “unheard” melodies in the artwork I studied in art history classes as well. To me, they were the spots that the artist chose to purposely leave blank.   The blank spaces often said as much, if not more, than the ones full of swirling brushstrokes.

It’s amazing how now, the words take on another layer because of these newer passions of mine, especially dance.

Because it is the breaths and pauses in dancing and singing that I live for the most in these disciplines.  Very often, we concentrate on the hits, the strong beats, the parts in the music where your feet want to step the loudest or strongest.  But when someone breathes with me at the beginning of a dance, or when suddenly, there is a pause in the music, and we stop together to take in that moment, that’s what makes the hits and sharper, quicker movements so memorable.

It’s also what gives me goosebumps- those “unheard” melodies in between the musical notes, in between the dips and spins and waves.  I can name particular dancers over the course of my dancing experience who have made me feel those moments, those pauses, between the pulses and traveling sequences.  It is the leaders who have stopped me in my tracks to be so present in those moments, to experience the sweetness of what is not heard but felt so deeply, that remain in my memory forever.  Although those moments can never be replicated again exactly as they were, that is also what is beautiful about them.  They linger within us, long after they happen, because of their magic to bring us into that very instance.

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It’s like nothing else exists in those moments except for that feeling. And that is the part of dance that makes me crave more of it.  These captured moments of ‘stillness’ that we often don’t take the time for in our daily lives, these instances of total surrender to our senses- the feel of our partner’s hands or arms around us, the touch of our feet pushing through the floor, or the floor pushing back up into us to ground us and keep the motion flowing, or the deep breaths taken at the same time as the pause in the music.

It is this that draws me to the dance floor again and again, no matter how tired I might feel beforehand, no matter how many other life issues are on my mind.  Dance takes me out of this and into the moment.  It feels like something otherworldly, orchestrated not by us but by something divine. Or to remind us of our connection to Spirit and the Divine. We just have to be open to it, to allow ourselves to listen and believe in the “unheard” melodies that capture our hearts and let our souls soar. It is the pauses and the breaths in the dances that enliven me and convince me that we are connected to something so much greater than ourselves. We just have to let that connection flow to and from us.

Dance allows us to hear the unheard, to experience something out of this world while still remaining in it.

Dance is divine.

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Awakening to Your Dreams

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For the past few nights, I have fallen asleep with my guitar.

“Wait, you play the guitar?” those of you who know me might be asking.  Others of you might be thinking, “I think she needs a man.”  Yeah, that’s a topic for a whole other blog post.

But yes, I actually own three guitars now.   But I rarely play them. I thought I just couldn’t figure out HOW to. I would try every once in awhile, take a couple of lessons, but nothing would stick. If any of you have tried playing the guitar, especially as an adult, you know it’s not that easy.  Getting your fingers to coordinate and stretch enough but also be delicate enough to get right into the exact spots on the frets is pretty tricky stuff.

Each time I would pick up the guitar again, I would get frustrated and think that this whole guitar thing is so far from… well, who I am.  So I would give up.

But the universe has this way of bringing you back to something that you might need to give another chance to. Plus, there are guitars all around me- from the guitar paintings I did years ago, still hanging on my wall, to the guitar piggy bank I have in my kitchen, to the little guitar decoration on my bookshelf. Oh, and what about that guitar keychain I owned for a few years? Not to mention that one of the most inspiring and life changing movies I have ever seen is also, quite frankly, called The Guitar.

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“Work It Out”- Interview With Reuben Avery

Reuben on Trumpet

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

La Época Interview- Part 1

Josué JosephOn 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)

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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.

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