La Época Interview- Part 2

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)

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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.

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New Photo Feature- Marilou and Alessandra Quaglia!

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“When I dance, I forget the bad times and I feel free.“- Marilou

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

Help Send Ryan to Italy!

DANCING WITH CYSTIC FIBROSIS
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Ryan Morissette is truly an inspiration to us all. This young dancer not only
rips it up on stage when he performs, but he spends time sharing his art through teaching other kids. He also helps raise money for various charities, AND, what a powerful role model he is to guys who might want to dance but are not always encouraged to because of old gender stereotypes.
Ryan dances at a very high level, competing, training, performing, all the while battling a disease that he has had since he was a child.  But Dance, for Ryan, is healing. It is his medicine.
“I have tattooed on my arm ‘Music is my cure’ and that’s exactly how I feel when I am dancing,” says Ryan Morrissette.
[When I am dancing], “I feel like I don’t have CF. I can just be myself.”

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What Dance Teaches Me

live to danceI have been so lucky to have some of the most inspiring teachers  come into my life.  Little did I know that Dance would be one of them.

Dance has influenced the decisions I make, the places I go, the people I meet, the perceptions I have about life, the values I cherish the most, my awareness of myself as a body and a soul, as well as how I interact with others and the world around me.

Someone recently asked me why I dance, and the first thought that came to my mind was, ironically, NOT thinking.  Dance, as I explained to this person, is one of the first places I learned not to lead (or follow) with thinking, but to feel.  With Dance, I shut off my brain, and engage, or turn on, my senses.  This is huge for someone who is constantly thinking and processing and analyzing like myself.  And wow, what it has done for my writing.  As a writer, I need to be much more in touch with my senses, and to be able to capture moments when my senses are really heightened. Dance makes me much more aware of those moments and plants the images of them deep within my memory.

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Kwenda Lima- “To me, dance is a kind of freedom”

“To be honest, I have never seen you dance.  But what I heard you say in a youtube interview- not just about dance, but about Art and life-  told me everything I needed to know to assure me that I would be learning from a great teacher.”

That was part of the email I sent to Kwenda Lima before I met him and just after I booked a flight to San Francisco to take his workshops. 

As I explained to Kwenda, for the past few years, I have been writing about the power of dance to inspire, to strengthen, and to heal.  But I knew I was missing something – someone who could speak deeply about the spirituality aspect of dancing- someone who lived and breathed it.  And I knew instantly- I felt it through his energy actually- that Kwenda would be one of those people.

And I was right.  Not only did he respond very quickly to my message with a few heartfelt words of his own, but he made sure to keep his word by making time, in the middle of his workshops, to discuss with me some of the issues around health, dance and teaching that I had brought up in my email.

Insights into how to live a fuller life were cleverly woven into, and sometimes just outwardly stated, in Kwenda’s teachings during that weekend.  The kizomba movements and exercises we learned were just one aspect of the lessons.  There was such emotion and purpose in every one of Kwenda’s actions, including the moments where he just fell silent.  It was hard not to be captivated by this man’s spirit. 

And for those of us who stayed until the last workshop—when Kwenda

introduced us to Kaizen dance- we went from jumping in utter happiness, holding hands in gratitude, laying on each other’s shoulders in a clump of bodies on the floor, letting our tongues hang out, freeing our inner child, and forming a tight spiral around Kwenda, which reminded me of his belief that we are all in fact one. But it was the final exercise about forgiveness that seemed to have been the most impactful for some. Every single person in that room was moved to tears from it.  But it felt more like a long awaited, giant, collective exhale, a letting go of something heavy, rather than tears of sorrow.  We may not forever remember all the details of the dance steps learned that weekend, but I am sure the depth of feeling through dance that Kwenda left us with, will remain with us for a long time.

Thank you Kwenda, for proving my instincts right, and being that great teacher I felt you would be. And special thanks to Emile Carter for doing an amazing job in organizing Kwenda’s first visit to the U.S. 

The beads on your hand – around your wrist and fingers- are they spiritual or religious or have any particular significance?  You wear them all the time, it seems.

Yes, I wear this all the time (skims his fingers over the beads).  It is a spiritual thing. And it’s something very personal for me.  It reminds me of things that are important to me.

I was curious about that because you have this spirituality about you which was evident well before I met you.  I could feel it even when just watching you in another interview on the internet.  Where do you think that spirituality comes from?

It’s a mix of everything, actually, but it’s not a cultural thing or anything like that.  I would say it comes from my ‘education’.  When I talk about education, I am referring to my parents, I’m talking about my friends, I’m talking about the books I came across, I’m talking about the movies I’ve seen, I’m talking about the situations that I went through.  For me, that is my education.  And it is what has taken me to where I am now.

Have you always been that way? That depth that you convey- has it always been there? Or did something happen in your life to instil that in you so strongly?

As I said, it’s a mix of everything.  Nothing happened to make me change suddenly.  But I’ve always behaved in a different way, even when I was a child. I was different.  My friends would always say to me “You’re complicated,” or, “You’re different”.  They would say, “Okay, you’re talking too much,” or something like that (smiles).  I was the kind of child that would spend a lot of time in my room alone.  And so all of those things- EVERYTHING that surrounds you- of course, will kind of guide you to what you’re supposed to do.  That’s what I believe.

I believe there is a mission for each of us, something we are meant to do.  So probably, those things- the people, the books- those situations, were taking me to where I’m supposed to be, what I’m supposed to do.

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