July 26, 2008

Put on your dancing shoes

The following is a guest blog from Laurie, who is a teacher working with a Christian non-profit in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, whose focus is to see people lifted up through the message of Jesus Christ. They also seek to help with housing, education, and employment. Her blog can be found at Laurie's Blog Spot.

What is it about dancing that lifts the human spirit? Our limbs are moving, but it’s our spirit within us that sings and shouts inside of us as we twist our bodies in differing positions.

I think it is almost natural to dance if one is Honduran. And Christmas is the perfect season to experience the joy of dancing in Honduras. I watched street performers performing traditional dances near the Cathedral in Comayagua during the Advent season this past year. The joy and excitement of the young performers as they moved their lithe bodies to the rhythm of the music spread to the watching crowd. We laughed and clapped as they re-enacted a drama about two lovers through dance and pantomime. As night overtook the street, the people dispersed. But I sensed as we walked down the cobblestone streets, that we were a bit lighter in heart that night. The dancing had captured our hearts, even for perhaps, just one moment.

On Christmas Eve, I visited several Honduran homes for dinner and festivities. Going house to house, I witnessed dancing at each house. The first home belonged to an evangelical pastor and his extended family. We ate, exchanged small gifts, and then, we danced. In a circle, with grandparents, sons, daughters, and even a baby in arms, we danced together in a circular pattern around the room to the simple carols on the radio And we laughed.

At the second home, our arrival was welcomed by the removal of almost all of furniture out of the living room. It was time to dance, again! All of the ladies made a circle, and one lady at a time took to the middle to showcase her special skill. At this home, the dancing was more sensual, and I felt the pulse of the ancient tribal customs as hips swayed and bodies gyrated downward. My gringa imitation was applauded, even though I knew I didn’t possess the genes for this ancient ritualistic dancing.

At my final stop, the dancing was more comical. It was, after all, well after midnight. The fireworks were spent, the tamales had been eaten, and now it was time to dance again. At this home, it was the men who entertained the family with different versions of exaggerated hand waving, spirals and twists. We laughed, ate again, and continued dancing. Around four in the morning, I found my bed and collapsed. Exhausted but happy. Dancing filled my dreams.

Maybe we Americans can take a hint. Let’s forget about spending quite so much, and let’s spend a little more time dancing. And not just at Christmas. We can take our spirits a little higher just by kicking up our heels and lifting our hands,

If you don’t know where to start, may I suggest Rhythms del Mundo Cuba? Start with Dancing Shoes by Arctic Monkey, slow it down with Casablanca by Ibrahim Ferrer, and then, finish with Killing Me Softly by Omara Portuondo. All of these songs are available through iTunes. Have fun!

Thank you, Laurie, for providing this guest blog. I so apologize for the posting delay and wish to let those of you who have been waiting to see your guest blog articles appear that I will be posting them more regularly. I'll email the link to you when they are posted. Thanks for your patience.
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