Rushing pedestrians, innumerable yellow taxi cabs, buildings you can’t see the top of no matter how far you crane your neck – this is the dizzying scene I saw as I stepped out of the bus and onto the sidewalk of New York City, New York. I was there last spring with my school’s dance company on tour. Being from a suburban town in Utah, the culture shock was equivalent to that of traveling to another country. Shopping and sightseeing were definitely at the front of everyone’s minds, however, we were really there for one purpose: to partake of the art, the culture, the frenzy, and the overall taste of the “Big Apple”.
After being on a plane all night, the first thing we did was head straight to dance classes. We took classes at Steps on Broadway, Alvin Ailey American Dance, Dance New Amsterdam, and several other studios where we participated in all sorts of styles of dance including contemporary, ballet, hip hop, jazz, and African. Every class was vastly different, and yet, every class was incredibly inspiring and enjoyable in its own unique way. I was thrilled to be able to try out so many styles and meet so many dancers from all over the world, all in one city.
In between classes, we’d hit the streets – walking and sightseeing and walking some more. The majesty of the Statue of Liberty, the beauty of Central Park, the hustle and bustle of Times Square, and the reverence of Ground Zero and St. Paul’s Chapel are just a few of the surreal scenes we were able to visit. We also saw the Broadway musical “Wicked”, and attended a performance by the Nederlands Dance Theater. Both were incredibly powerful productions that left me feeling that the possibilities of imagination are endless.
Yet, even in the midst of all these amazing sights and performances, my favorite part of the entire tour was our visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Just upon entering the museum, I was able to look to the right and see an ancient Egyptian exhibit, and to the left a hallway filled with the majestic sculptures of ancient Greece and Rome. The amazement I felt continued throughout the entire time I was there. Being able to become a part of the priceless treasures that filled the Met was like traveling back in time and becoming a part of history. I have never felt so connected to the peoples of the past; it was as if they were speaking to me, inviting me to learn more.
When I arrived back at home, I realized that something about me had changed. I felt not only more aware of the world, but aware of the fact that people, no matter where they are from, are more alike than they know. We are connected by our heritages, our cultures, our art, and our commerce. We are all inspired by the same things, and saddened by the same things. I believe that because of my trip to New York City, I was able to catch a better glimpse of who I am, and where I fall into place in this world – and that is a perspective I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
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