Back from Puebla

 Back from Puebla

I had another wonderful experience on my sabbatical. This time it was in Puebla, Mexico!

First off the city is beautiful and quaint.  It is full of culture, art, architecture, and fantastic food. 
 The food is full of flavors that range from sweet to spicy. I really loved the street food and most nights enjoyed a taco.  

Puebla is full of churches.  Their very violent history, full of war and oppression was captured in much of the city in many ways, but some of these churches are still standing despite war. My favorite was a large cathedral full of baroque style architecture and art. When you enter inside a huge sense of calm and peace come over you.  It is full of religious statues and figures that are so beautifully created. No matter how many times you look at the building – each time you will discover something new.  

On my very fist day I was there in time to enjoy a performance in the park celebrating the anniversary of Puebla. It was full of humor and information. I also attended a dance performance performed by the dance network supported by Instituto Municipal de Arte y Cultura de Puebla (IMACP). The stage was simple and the dances included a mixture of classic dance to urban style movement.  It was beautiful to experience.  And I realized that dance surpasses any language barrier.  

I was also able to experience the Friday Kahlo exhibit which was just amazing!

One highlight of the trip was working with the people of Instituto Municipal de Arte y Cultura de Puebla (IMACP) and their artists ranging from adults to students as young as age 6. They are responsible for bringing me there and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to have worked with their consituents.  Alex and Mau, my contacts there, planned each detail to support me and I felt so well taken care of and so welcome.  

With the adults, I gave a talk with them about my professional journey and teaching artists in New York City.  We noticed very quickly that some of the challenges and struggles of cultural organizations and artists are very similar in both of our countries but everywhere art perseveres. 

By far the greatest part of my trip and the most rewarding was working with the children. I was more comfortable practicing my Spanish and was able to teach much of the class in Spanish with the help of the children and colleagues. It gave me confidence to try with the adults as well. They were patient and forgiving and many used my being there to practice their English. In fact there were many times when someone would ask me something in English and I would respond in Spanish. 

The youngest group participated in creating performances based on a story I told them “Como el escarabjo tiene sus colores”.  They used mime, movement, music, dance, improvisation, tableau, role play and their imaginations to re-tell this story and even add to it. 

The older youth group full of teenagers devised a piece of theatre after only working with them for 3 days! They based their performances on interviews they had done and used tableau, role playing, greek choral speak, music, movement, and improvisation to create these fantastic performances. I was so impressed with the commitment and dedication they had this week.  And we were able to have a final performance on my last day.  

I am so proud of them! They surprised me at the end with their Mexican hospitality and showered me with gifts and sweets and thank you’s! It was very moving.  

I had a moment during my last class when I thought about this: I had such an intimate journey with these students this week that culminated in something so memorable after so much work this week–

Will they remember this experience? 

As I often say to my grad students – Life is made up of moments and as artists we are fortunate to be able to impact a moment, if we are lucky more than one moment, that will hopefully have a lifelong affect.   Their goodbyes and thank you’s were very moving and a great surprise.  

Again, I have to thank Instituto Municipal de Arte y Cultura de Puebla (IMACP) for making this experience, I know I will always remember and particularly from the bottom of my heart Mau and Alex for their attention to detail in the planning and their support.