Friday, February 4, 2011


This past week, I took 4 days of Afro-Brazilian dance with Augusto Omolu. It was an awesome experience to get to work with a new teacher after working with the same few during the dance intensive. The fast pace rhythms of Augusto's class made me realize the power of drums and dance. African based dance has such an intense visceral power to it that is more right than right to my soul. My brain went into a different kind of thinking, as the drums ran wildly around the room and dancers tried to keep up! Watching the dance, the movements, the symbology, seeing the body strive for the connection with the music, the earth and the other world. It is so essential, most powerful. Dancing and worshiping, striving, pushing physical limits to achieve spiritual connection. Letting the body be danced by the drums. Ancestors speaking through the movements, people's striving and difficulties and triumphs in life. The limits and restrictions of having a body! It is beautiful. ! just a short thought <3

Sunday, January 30, 2011

One Month

Today is exactly one month since I got to Brazil! Que Bom! The dance intensive is over and I'm moving into a new phase. One of my best friends here is leaving early tomorrow morning :( and soon my other close friend will leave. It's going to be a lot different around here. I will have a lot more time solo and my portuguese skills will be improving at rapid pace, being around less Americanas. I'm excited. The past month has been awesome and really difficult but I feel that I'm getting grounded here in Brazil. I have a lot of cool ideas in the working for things I'm going to do next, including a 10 day dance retreat in Itacare and doing healing ceremonies! I'm very excited!!!!!! And then I plan on going to Chapada Diamantine, which is supposed to be the most beautiful place in Bahia. Check it out on the interweb. Beautiful pictures! I've heard a lot of amazing things about it and I know that there are a lot of healers and artists that live there. Sounds like a really cool community and a lot more low key than loco Salvador. There was an Olodum festival this weekend in my neighborhood and it was totally hectic. I can't imagine what Carnival will be like! Mais, I am pretty sure that I will be far from the craziness of Salvador during Carnival. I know this is totally sac-religious, being in Brazil and not going to Carnival, but I heard it's nuttier than Nuts and I don't think I want to put myself in that kind of crazy energy, especially because Carnival is right after my peaceful and introspective dance retreat :) I think I would go bonkers back in Salvador. We shall see. Im going to be taking all of the dance and capoeira I can within the next 3 weeks before this retreat, as well as Portuguese classes. I'm excited to reach out more in Salvador and see what I can find! I hope to meet some cool new people and new teachers and guides and all of that good stuff! Blessings <3

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Journey into Listening

The past week has been great. It was the third week of the dance intensive, so we started to work on final choreography for the show that will be happening this coming Friday! Exciting! So, a lot of dance classes and not too much else. It's been a quiet week for me, internally, being a bit of a hermit. I've been dreaming up possibilities for what I want to do once this program ends on Jan 28. Right now, I'm planning on staying in Salvador for another few weeks and doing some intensive Portuguese classes and then finding other dance classes to participate in on my own. I will be much more solo because all of the English speaking ladies who are participating in the dance intensive are heading home (my two closest friends, who I have been living with) :(. They head back to NYC!! But! This is good, another step in the journey. It's been really nice to have some people to feel comfortable with and explore the city with and talk about dance with.

Yesterday was a good day. We went to Rosangela's mom's house! (Rosangela is the head teacher and creator of the dance technique that this whole intensive is about-she's the head honcho) Her mother is a mae de santo, which is a female priest in the Candomble religion. Her house, which Rosangela gave to her, has a space downstairs that is dedicated to religious ceremonies, with all of the Orixas painted beautifully on the white cement walls. So, a lot of us girls from the dance intensive took an hour bus over to her mom's house and she fed us! There was a huge amount of delicious Baiana food (from Bahia). It was delicioso. And then her mother offered to give us Orixa readings. Basically, she is very connected to the Spirits and has some psychic and telepathic abilities to listen to them. In these readings, she tells us who are main Orixas are, which guide us and which are our personalities most like. She sat each one of us down at her table, Rosangela there to translate, and first asked our name. She had a handful of cowrie shells, which are very sacred in a lot of African religions and they used to be used as money, and she was blessing them and connecting with the Orixas and then would drop them on the table. She had created a small circle of necklaces on the table to create boundaries for the shells. Depending on the positions the shells would land, this is how she would get her answers. She told me my Orixas are Oshun, the goddess of health, beauty, love and wealth. Nice. And then my life path is following the footsteps of Yemanja, she is the ocean, the essence of motherhood and the protector of children. I like this one. And I found this meaning: Her name is a contraction of Yoruba words: "Yeye emo eja" that mean "Mother whose children are like fish." And being a pisces, I like this connection. Also, she told me that I have a strong connection to Ogum, the warrior who gives strength through prophecy and magic. Very cool. She said I need to let Ogum lead me more without trying to stop him. I need to be more brave and listen to the directions I am led in. It was funny. One time when she threw her shells down, she looked up and me with a concerned and questioning face and said in Portuguese that I travel a lot. Haha. She seemed confused, like she didn't know why I would want to or could travel so much! :) Parents that like to travel, catching the travel bug. We were allowed to ask a question and I asked her how could I let go of this fear of fulfilling my potential, of wanting to be a healer, wanting to also be able to connect to Spirits the way she does and she listened to the question, shook the shells in her hands and threw them into the circle and told me I needed to learn how to heal myself before I can heal others. .... Yes. This has been coming up for me a lot, this message. It's hard to listen to sometimes because, where to start. But I feel that it is part of growing up and being mature. How can I be a healer or a teacher if I don't practice what I preach. Ok. So this is what I need to be paying attention to. Integrity, listening to what I need, compassion, maturity and discipline. Rosangela's technique is a lot about this. Listening to inner silence, disciplining the body, connecting with the Universe. These are all the things she reminds us of as we start the dance classes. It is a very holistic dance. Very inspiring. So! That was my Saturday! Another hour long bus home, SO BUMPY AND WILD THESE BUSES, and I was home by 9 pm and asleep by 11. Nice. 

Today is a beach day! We are planning on going to Itaparica, a local island. :) Hopefully, we make it there and have a lovely day. Blessings! <3 <3 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Capoeira in the Streets

Ahah, yes the past few days have been the most difficult so far. Just coming up against some cultural edges with our dear old Salvador. Honestly, after my friend got mugged, I started to feel more anxious about the town and the crime and other things that challenge me, like the guys here and how you basically have to storm through the street without making eye contact to avoid unwanted glances, gestures and pursuit. Haha. I can start to think dramatically about it but it is challenging to not be able to just look at people in the streets. But, a cool connection that I made today was between this kind of mentality of always watching your back and the game-fight of Salvador, Capoeira. I met with this 20 year old Brazilian girl who I was connected with by her uncle, who I met in Seattle (he owns a delicious Brazilian restaurant there) who is from Salvador and she gave me a little Portuguese lesson. It was funny because I’m pretty sure that she never has tutored before and she probably just was like “I’ll do it!” when her uncle told her I was looking for someone. She speaks great English but we need to work on our curriculum. Anyways! We were talking about the streets and the vibe and how to stay safe. She seemed to know for herself that the Pelourinho area is totally crazy and there is a lot of crime because of all of the tourists. She lives outside of the center and doesn’t come in unless she has to. I was telling her that I have been stressed about walking around and just pissed at Salvador (Disculpa!) because I was frustrated with always having to be stared at and nervous that I was going to be jumped. She looked at me, with these old wise eyes, and said: “You have to feel the people.” and rubbed her two fingers together in front of her face. It was beautiful and I feel like I got it. Salvador is always playing Capoeira! The game is so engrained in the culture. I wonder which gave birth to which. But yes, I wonder if I can allow this to be my greatest form of security: my intuition! What a lifeeee lessoonnnn right there. Greatest form of Security: Intuition. So, yes slowing down, allowing the body and mind to sense more than coil inside out of fear and pray for safety. I think this is always in work anyways but it’s good to hear from a local ( and she also does Kung Fu, Shes a total bad ass and I told her that in English and she didn’t know what I meant. ). So yea, I think I’m getting over that bit of paranoia that I felt. It was definitely culture shock because Salvador definitely has a lot of crazy and messed-up stuff going on but there is also tons of beauty and art and magic here. I think it is part of the deal. Same as in India, where it is impossible to plan ahead and things are always falling apart and coming together, we are at the Grace of God in these locals and its residents live by this law <3

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sunday Jan 9 2010

Yesterday was an intense day. No dance classes but we got our fill of adrenaline and movement. Three friends and I headed to a theater performance at 10 am but got on the wrong bus so we just went to the beach :) This is the flow here. We just went with it. So we had an awesome experience at the beach, huge waves breaking strongly on rock creating huge bursts of foaming white water. It was beautiful. Very powerful. We walked around a part of Salvador I havent been before so that was really interesting to see. This was more of the city area. The coolest thing in Salvador (maybe not THE coolest but pretty awesome) is the grafiti here! Im going to put up pictures when I get home so youll see but yes, awesome and its everywhere. Im taking pictures of all of them too so Ill have a full gallery after a while. Anyways! So, we made our way back to town by bus and got off in Pelourinho area. This is a really popular area, really busy and it was about 2pm. We decided to walk down a street that we usually dont walk down but its literally the street over from the street we always walk down, broad daylight, lots of people. This street was a little less crowded but we didnt even think about it. Next thing you know, we are walking down the street and my friend Ani who is walking 5 feet infront of me gets comfronted by some dude, hunting knife in hand and starts yanking her bag from her kneck. Shes screaming and I run over to her, realizing whats happening and the guy starting sawing at the strap of her bag because she wasnt letting it go (out of shock) and I tell her to let it go and he runs away down the street. Were freaking out telling some locals to run after him and theyre all like yea right and so he go away. Poor Ani was freaking out but luckily there wasnt anything too important in the bag  (but her camera phone credit card and 10 bucks and keys to our house, which we have to change the locks now)!!!!!!!!! But she got away with all of her limbs and fingers! Jesus it was intense and scary. And its crazy because it was broad daylight and in a pretty busy area. I guess now we know always to take the main streets and now weve been told that Sunday isnt a good day to be out and about much anyways. So, there is a bit more awareness about crime here and I guess its jsut going to get worse as Carnival closes in! So, Im just not carrying much with me, taking main streets, walking in crowds, not going out late. We shall see but now we know! We went to the tourist police and everything but its unlikely that anythings going to happen. Some lucky bastard is probably flipping through Anis photos right now or maybes hes already sold it. And so it is.... Last night, after relaxing a bit, we all went to a Candomble ceremony. It was for the Orixa Oxala. This is the Orixa in Candomble that is related to Jesus Christ, so he is kind of the father of the Orixas. We had to wear all white as did everyone who was worshipping and at the ceremony. Lots of girls from the Dance Intensive went in a van together, which Rosangela organized for us. The ceremony was like a church mass setting but the worship was different bobviously. There were two or three big chairs in the center of the room, like throwns, where two elders sat. There was also a statue of Oxala there. There was a circle of people dancing around this center. Everyone dressed in white, dancing to the drums being played. This is the actual practice of the dances that we have learned in class. This is how they are actually used in the religion. Drums are played, specific rhythms for each Orixa, and the devotees dance in a circle, doing the dance of the Orixa in praise. Very much like some other religions, like a friend said it reminded her of church in the South, people are overtaken by the Spirit and jump up, fall down, seize up, shake, whatever, when they are taken by the spirit. It was really intense to see and brought up a lot of questions and thoughts. It was really beautiful and very powerful and cool to see an actual ceremony and feel the energy of it. So, it was a full day, with a large spectrum of energies and realizations!  I think this day raised way more questions than answers... the search for truth continues!!!!!!!!!! Blessings on the safety of us all. <3 Ill put some pictures up soon!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

First Few Days in Brazil

Hola Familia. This is my first little post about my Brazil experience thus far! So I've been here for a about a week and this is my first Saturday where I have time hang out at home and write a bit. This past week has been totally amazing. I have been taking dance classes 4-7 hours everyday for the past week! And I love it. The woman that is running the dance intensive that I am in is named Rosangela Silvestre. She is from Salvador, Brazil and is now a famous dance teacher and choreographer. She is an incredible woman, incredibly strong, very intense and fiery and very disciplined and dedicated in what she does and her commitment to living a full and embodied life. She is very inspiring. I don't think I've ever seen anyone with such a deep and intense presence. Her gaze is like laser beams. So, I've been taking her technique classes, some ballet class (my first ballet experience) and then the dances of the Orixas. The Orixas are the gods and goddesses that originate from the Candomble religion that is here in Brazil. This religion is African based, coming from Yoruba people. It comes from the same roots as Santeria that is practiced in Cuba. Here, it is practiced by devotees who have a certain god or goddess that they worship in particular. A way that they are worshipped is through dance. During ceremonies, the devotees will dance the dance of their Orixa in devotion and they can be overtaken by the spirit of the Orixa, like a trance. I haven't seen this happen yet but tomorrow I'm going to a ceremony for the Orixa Oxala. I'm pumped! So, the dances of the Orixas have been great, really intense and fast paced since we were working with the Orixa Ogun all week, who is the warrior Orixa and so the dance is very fast paced and fierce! So the days are pretty full and I love being in dance class for this much time. I can feel myself getting stronger and more aware of my body, which is fantabulous. The beach is 15 minutes away by bus so I only have been once on the day that I arrived and I have some pictures from that but my computer isn't letting me download pictures right now for some reason! So until next time for that.... I've met some incredible people along the way. I'm living with two girls who are professional dancers in NYC and we've been getting along really well. There is also a girl in our house from Argentina so I've been the house translator which is awesome because I get to practicar mi espanol. There is a lovely woman from Brixton, England who is in our friend circle who has been a big inspiration and influence on me thus far. She is a lovely spirit and a flower essence therapist and flower designer and has been a great person to talk with. Another angel in my life fa sho. <3 Yes yes so things are going very well. We went out on Tuesday night this past week and it is insane. Every Tuesday Salvador literally has a party the size of a New Years Eve party. Totally Loco. Like everyone dancing in the streets, the Olodum band leading a parade down and up the cobble stone roads at like 3 am and this happens EVERY Tuesday. Totally loco but amazing. People know how to enjoy themselves here! The pace is a lot slower too. Us dancers from the States look like total foreigners and we pound our feet on the way to class at 8 am as everyone else is standing by their doorways and gazing at the awakening town. And it's funny because we have to wear black to all of our classes so we look even more tough in our all black outfits and sunglasses on our way to dance our booties off. It's fun. There are a lot of awesome and inspiring people within this dance community and their extended friends. I feel like I am in really good hands and I have people that I can ask for advice and resources to make my time here full. I am getting in touch with a Portuguese teacher soon!!!! which is needed but it's also cool because my spanish helps me a lot but I am really excited to learn Portuguese because I love the way it sounds and I'm just stoked to learn another idioma. <3 Okedokey. Catch whoever you are on the flipside the next time I write? Blogz are weerd! But I hope you learn something from my writing and maybe you will make a connection that will inspire you! If you're a dancer, check out Rosangela Silvestre because shes a total bad ass! <3 Ciao. Beijos.

Heres some links to give you a sense about what Im doing!!

Enjoy! <3 <3 <3