Panamanian Days: FSU in Malambo Take Two!

Risen early, filled with coffee, and slathered in two layers of sunscreen, 8 bright-eyed and bushy tailed dancers scurried out of Magnolia Inn with fearless and feisty leader Tinna in tow to hike to the summit of Cerro Ancon. Sweating and chatting, we laughed our way to the top, indulging in every photo-opportunity with voracious enthusiasm. The view of the entirety of Panama City – both the old and the new – was absolutely breath-taking…and our silhouetted arabesques in the skyline were definitely en pointe 🙂

I could go on endlessly about the rich history and natural beauty of this country, but I only have so much time and this was truly only the very beginning of a long and immensely satisfying day of movement exchange! Along the hike, we were disappointed to find that the classroom at the University of Panama had flooded and we were unable to go teach those students for the second day in a row. TInna, ever the fearless leader of our ragamuffin crew, didn’t miss a beat. After the last dramatic jumping photo was snapped, we practically skipped our way back down the summit to tumble in the van and head to Panama Vieja!

Panama Vieja was STUNNING. As a major lover of all things of antiquity, I was in absolute heaven. Doused in bug-spray (deep-woods strength mind you) we traversed the ruins with sparkles in our eyes and springs in our steps. The cherry on top of this outing was a silent group improvisation jam session captured on Erin’s go-pro and Katiana’s phone…exhaustion and excitement combined in a magical force of synchronized movement creation.

…and then…hunger set in!

Starving, we headed back to Cafe Niko to fill our rumbling stomachs with rice and beans and plantains and shrimp and other delicious Panamanian comida. No food ever tastes so good as after such an active and ridiculously fun morning of dance photography and group bonding.

Fed and ready for a second wind: time for Malambo Day 2!!!!!

We got there at 2:00, much earlier than our start time, so were lucky enough to be allowed to go play with the babies. Now, normally I don’t think I’m especially good with young children, but I was honestly intoxicated by these young ones. Though they started off shy, unsure of the strange herd of girls invading their house, they quickly warmed to us. As TInna so astutely pointed out, each child gravitated toward the Movement Exchange member who best matched their natural energy. For me it was a very shy and observant young boy, who after stealing the sunglasses from my head quickly stole my heart. He sat in my lap for what must have been over an hour, investigating plush toys and giggling from my hugs. He even gingerly plucked the flower from my hair and inspected it ever so carefully, only to pick each petal one-by-one to hand back to me, each a special present.

Over the course of a couple hours, their boundless energy and innocent sense of play captivated us and filled us all with the resolve to push through our second day of choreography for the orphanage. So much was jam packed into this day that I cannot even begin to describe it all or do any sort of justice to the immense impact it left, the discussion it prompted, and the heart strings it pulled. The Malambo girls’ eyes shone with pride as they began to really comprehend and execute their ballet combinations, and even the sassiest members let glimmers of their true desire to learn show through the tough facade. This was truly a day to remember, an experience to relish, a moment to savor.

***Photos to come because they currently refuse to upload 🙁

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