I started dancing when I was five. More recently I have been a member of Encore Theatrical Arts Project (ETAP) for 9 years, performing in countless Broadway style productions. As a member of company, we dance about 20 hours a week. Imagine my surprise when on an ordinary Saturday, our director announced that ETAP had been invited to perform in the 2010 Celebration of Dance in Spain. All 32 company members erupted into chaos over the exciting news.
On March 23rd ETAP said goodbye to our homes and departed from Washington Dulles Airport for Madrid, Spain. It was morning by the time our group of 60 parents and dancers arrived in the city. We gathered our heavy luggage and went to meet our tour guide Guida Braz. After being loaded on a bus to Toledo, Guida gave a lengthy introduction and dancers chattered at the back of the bus. Leaving the airport all I could see was high way and graffiti, something I could have seen at home. Bored, I fell asleep, but I woke up to a different scene than before. Amazed, I stepped off the bus into the most beautiful country I had ever seen.
During the two days spent in Toledo, we visited the magnificent Cathedral that housed El Greco paintings as well as the Church of St. Tome, showcasing countless artists. On the walking tour, we stood in awe of historic architecture, and as we continued, each stone building seemed more magnificent than the last. On our way to Seville we stopped in Cordoba, where we saw the Mezquita, an enormous mosque that was built in the 8th century. Later, we walked the cobble streets of Seville and enjoyed the culture by visiting shops and eateries. We spent two days in Granada, touring legendary palaces and parks.
We performed our one hour show at four different venues. The show that stands out in my mind was at Trinity College (which is more like a primary/secondary school for international students) in Madrid. Though motivated to do our best for the kids, it ended up being one of our worst shows. Costumes were misplaced and the slippery stage made girls fall, yet at the end of the show, the students gave us a standing ovation. Afterwards, we gathered for autographs and pictures, and then ate lunch with the students in their cafeteria to get to know them. Talking to kids our age that live miles away, made us realize that weren’t as different as we expected. The other theaters were impressive and the audiences were also appreciative of our presence.
We experienced many new things on our trip. I ate native dishes such as tapas and payaya. For entertainment we saw a flamenco show and later the dancers took a real flamenco class. We had so much fun!
On my trip to Spain, I learned to cherish every moment and embrace each culture you are given the opportunity to experience. At times my feet were throbbing from the distances we walked or I was starving because of the odd hours we ate, now I wish I had put those things aside and enjoyed being in a beautiful country. I’m grateful for the generous amount of free time we had to explore each city. Without it, we would not have been able to grasp the Spanish way of life and appreciate the culture. It brought the vast beauty of art and architecture to my attention. I’ll never forget my trip, because the memories are embedded in my brain and will be for as long as I live.
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