Blood, Sweat, and Tears: Dance with Jimmy Ortiz

My two weeks in spent in San Jose, Costa Rica, were beyond amazing.  I can’t really even put it into words — all the positive adjectives that exist can be applied to my experience.  When I first arrived to San Jose, I didn’t have the slightest idea of what I was getting myself into.

On the first Saturday of the trip, I met the choreographer that we were going to be working with, Jimmy Ortiz, and his assistant/translator, GrEivin QuezAc.  Jimmy was a visiting choreographer at OSU last fall.  I wasn’t in his class or his choreography, but I had classmates in both.  I gathered from them that he was an extremely physical mover, specializing in a type of dance called “flying low.”  My classmates and I spent the first weekend of our stay in Costa Rica with Jimmy and GrEi, touring San Jose and visiting one of the country’s inactive volcanos, Volcan Irazu.  On Monday, we started dancing.

Day One: I cried. I was totally physically and mentally unprepared for the class that Jimmy gave us.  I felt so weak and completely out of my league.  In the weeks and months before the trip, I should have been running and lifting weights and doing push ups and conditioning. On Day One with Jimmy, I learned that physical fitness should always be a priority, even as a dancer.  We have to be prepared for anything.  We had several guest teachers while we were studying at Promenade, all students of Jimmy’s, each with their own unique style of movement, and all completely different from anything that I’ve ever done.  But my body surprised me; Day Two with Jimmy was much better, and I didn’t feel like such a complete failure.  The following days were never easy, but I didn’t allow myself to give up.

The physical challenge of dancing was actually incredibly rewarding.  I craved the the intensity.  Some days, I had to talk myself through the class, but it was always worth it.  I am totally aware that I wasn’t always (or often) successful in achieving the aesthetic or movements for which our teachers were asking, but I tried to always do my best and give it my fullest effort.

While dancing at Promenade, I got to know several of the dancers with whom Jimmy is currently working.  There were all phenomenal individuals and supremely talented movers.  Part of what made me love dancing at Promenade was being surrounded by so many people that exuded this raw, organic passion for dance.  Watching them take class and perform had a huge impact on me and how I approach dance now.  I would love to stay and continue to learn from them.

I hope to return to San Jose (or wherever Jimmy is) and dance some more.  I have so much that that I can still learn and experience to better myself and grow as a dancer.  I experienced a great deal of personal growth in only two short weeks.  Lord willing, I still have many years of dance left ahead of me and many more opportunities such as this one.

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