Hola friends. Punto Guanacasteco dancing! Have you ever seen it? It is active, it is loud and it is colorful.
Once upon a time there was a shy, ten-year old girl who moved to a brand new country. This little girl did not speak the language of the country, nor did she know anyone besides her parents and brother. But, she was a curious child – a worldschooler, whose nontraditional educational experiences made her an avide learner. Five days after arriving in this foreign country, the family went to a local farmer’s market to get groceries for the week. As the small group neared the end of the market, they noticed children dancing to festive music. The family watched as the girls spun around in their flowing dresses and the boys tipped their hats. The little girl said to her mommy, “I want to do that.” The little girl’s daddy (who spoke Spanish) went up to the teacher after the performance and asked if they had room for his daughter. The teacher said, “Yes, and don’t worry about the language. Dancing is a universal language.” The rest of the story is history. Dance became a part of the girls worldschooling experience. She made new friends, danced her socks off and began learning Spanish. THIS is why we travel. This is why we are worldschoolers…THIS!
Every time I see her dance, I get tears in my eyes. I watch her twirl, smile and shout (this is part of the dance) and I know that there is more to this situation than a cute, ten-year old girl dancing. I know that she had to overcome some serious fears and a language barrier to make this happen. I also know that, in a few short weeks and a little more than a handful rehearsals, this young lady accomplished something that many adults would never even consider attempting – myself included. I am so proud of her and her ability to fight through her fears, to tackle a goal that has more than one obstacle and to embrace a whole new culture. Until that day in the square, she had never seen Punto Guanacasteco dancing. But, what a great way to learn – to jump in and go. We are grateful for the opportunity to tailor her educational and cultural learning according to present opportunities and desires. But, Avalon is the one who embraced the experience. Ok, sorry if this is starting to sound like a brag fest, but Avalon reads this blog and I want to tell her (in writing) how proud I am of her courage. It was not been an easy transition to a new country, and she has taken it in stride. I love you Avalon.
Let’s talk about the dance group for a minute. Amazing! Over the years, we have been “the new people” to several kid groups. Some have been amazing, but most have been incredibly competitive and unwelcoming. I remember one particular incident with a theatre group when Avalon was in “The Sound of Music” that was horrifying. A mother actually instructed her child to push Avalon out of the way, because she kept missing a dance step and getting in front of her child. Crazy. Luckily, that is not the case here. These kids and mommies welcomed us into the dance troupe, as if they have known us for years. They have let us borrow shoes, costumes and hair pieces, plus they dressed Avalon for each event. (Will and I had no clue as to the traditions and appropriate attire.) There is no competition between the mommies or the girls; everyone wants to have a good time. Then, there are the girls (and the boys). These kids (ok, eyes are watering up) have been our little glimmer of happiness when everything seemed to be falling apart. Every time we go to dance class and watch these kids try to communicate with AvaLar (and vice versa), we are reminded of why we decided to take this wild worldschooling and WorldTowning™ journey. The local families have welcomed both kids into this dance family with open arms, at a time when we all needed it. The moms don’t speak English (or very, very little,) so they will probably never read this, but I must say, “Thank you ladies. Thank you so much for welcoming us and taking great care of Avalon.” I like to think of you as her Costa Rican mamas.
How about the dance instructor? Well, she does not speak English either, but I can tell by her body language and the way she deals with the girls that she loves what she does and loves them. After Avalon’s first performance, she made an announcement to the crowd acknowledging Avalon and her bravery. She talked about how proud she was of this little girl who came from the U.S., joined the group eight weeks before, did not speak Spanish and worked hard to accomplish this dance. I cried again, of course, you know me.
What is Punto Guanacasteco dance? Punto Guanacasteco dance is the most popular folk dance in Costa Rica, meaning it is also considered the national dance of the country. The dance takes place between a couple, and the movements are made up of short steps that indicate courtship. The female dancer is seen wearing a satin ruffled long skirt with ribbon embellishment in each tier. This colorful satin skirt creates a mesmerizing effect with exotic movements. The male partner tosses colored scarves, fans hats and utters loud cowboy yelps. (I love this part; the whole audience gets into it.)