Move-Ex at IU: A step-up in our journey towards dance engagement

Movement Exchange has continually emphasized the idea of cross-cultural understanding and engagement through dance. One of the most prominent ways it has fostered this practice is by holding annual dance exchanges in Panama, and more recently, in Brazil, for the many university chapters to attend. While Movement Exchange at IU has constantly strived to make these types of connections by encouraging their participants to join the Panamanian exchange during Winter Break each year, the group has recently come across a few exciting opportunities that will increase their attempts to carry out the goal of crossing cultural boundaries within their hometown of Bloomington, Indiana.

The first opportunity is a participation in an IU Department of Spanish & Portuguese sponsored Song Festival. While the event is centered around the competition of students who strive to excel in their language and music abilities, the department has also asked many other groups to come as guests in order to perform and/or further cultural knowledge and appreciation. Movement Exchange has had the pleasure of being asked to make an appearance as one of these guests: although not competing, the Move-Ex students will be choreographing and performing a dance that incorporates Pasa Pasa (a style taught during the annual dance exchange to Panama) and Casino Salsa. It is a way for the IU Move-Ex members to break their own cultural boundaries and challenge themselves by engaging in their new-found ways of dancing.

In addition, furthering this engagement with Latin American culture in the community, Movement Exchange at IU expects to host a new after-school dance program with Child’s Elementary in Bloomington. Beginning next semester, a few of the Move-Ex dancers will lead Club Baile: this club will focus on the practice of the Spanish language by both the children and the Move-Ex dance teachers by means of leading the children in classes which will contain Latin dance styles and movements. Angie Pan, current President of Movement Exchange at IU, expresses the importance of the opportunity as a way to, once again, use what has been learned during past trips to Panama. She explains that the goal is “to teach these Bloomington children about Latin culture and the Spanish language in a creative and active environment that promotes cross-cultural awareness, cross-cultural understanding, and diversity. This is also great practice for our members to work on our Spanish in preparation for the next international dance exchange.” This has been and will continue to be one big cycle of cultural learning, creating, teaching, and growing for the Movement Exchange at IU members and for the Bloomington community.

As for local engagement program, Move-Ex at IU has also been continuing to expand the love of dance at Bloomington after school programs. Alyx Sundheimer, our main coordinator at Boys and Girls Club never stops to reach out further, bringing her team of talented little dancers to the National Dance Competition this year in May. Representing Move-Ex IU and leading ten beautiful characters this year, she hopes that the competition will be an opportunity to challenge herself as well as the team she’s been enjoying working with for the past 2 years. Middle Way House, another local workshop dear to our hearts, has also been thriving at incorporating various dance styles into our weekly routine. Our Panama-goers this year have chosen fun choreography that we taught and performed at the Panama exchange this winter break, and shared it with the kids, as well as everyone else on the Move-Ex board. A mutual goal this semester is also to educate the local communities about the different genres of dance in the world, integrating our knowledge of dance from personal experience and Move-Ex’s exchanges to foster not only the passion to communicate through dancing but also techniques that can truly inspire some incredible projects in the future.

– Megan Kudla & Trang Hoang, Dance Diplomats
Indiana University