Students at the University of Utah, Department of Modern dance are in the middle of their partnership with Movement Exchange organization in Casco Viejo, Arraiján and Colón cities in Panama. Soon after their arrival on Sunday, April 15, 2012 this group of eight english native speaking students; three graduate students, two seniors, one junior and one sophomore undergraduate student have joined forces with Movement Exchange to bring a new, fresh and much needed perspective in learning through dance. The director, Anna Pasternak, who established the program two years ago has been dedicated to the advocacy of dance as a tool for social and cultural expression in underprivileged communities in Panama City. The group has been teaching in numerous orphanages: Malambo, Calicanto, Hogar de la Infancia, Sara Sotillo Elementary School, the University of Panama, and the National School of Dance. Their schedule has been jam packed with service activities but full of incredibly rewarding experiences. Besides teaching in these locations the group is immersed in the culture by living in the quarters at the Malambo Orphanage in Arraiján, this opportunity provides them with the unique experience of interacting one on one with the children at the Orphanage on a daily basis.
Their daily schedule goes as such: waking up at 5:00am, travel into the city to take a master class by local teacher Jose Leonardo, drive to the University of Panama to teach a master class, back into the city to teach classes at different orphanages, in the afternoon students drive to the National School of Dance to teach one more master class and end up back at the Malambo Orphanage for a few more creative movement classes before having dinner and enjoying each other with wrap up discussions on how the day went, bed usually around midnight.
After a quick count, the group has determined that in two days, more than two hundred students, teachers and observes have been touched by their classes in and out of the city of Panama. Early mornings and late nights keep the group fully responsive, and tirelessly dedicated to their mission to bring dance to as many people as possible. The group would like to acknowledge the incredible help of Anna and Carina from Movement Exchange, Joana for her incredible hospitality and delicious meals and the Sisters at the Malambo Orphanage for allowing the group to stay with them during this week.
Department of Modern Dance
University of Utah