One night after dinner my housemates at the B&B couldn’t stop talking about this dancer. For the past three weeks, each of them had seen this blonde woman dancing around Antigua. They joked that she never walked, but danced from place to place. They speculated about where she was from and why she was dancing. It was then they named her “The Dancer of Antigua.” Secretly I was jealous, How could I have missed her? This would be perfect for my project! I only had two more days in Antigua: tomorrow, which I had already scheduled a cooking class and the night after returning from Lake Atitlan, which only left a few hours to possible find her. I started to give up all hope.

 

Cooking class

The following morning my husband and I got up early for our cooking class. I have to admit now that I’m not dancing professionally everyday, I’m a bit of a foodie, and I LOVE cooking. We signed up to learn to make a tradition Guatemalan meal which included tamales, frijoles volteados, rellenitos, and tortillas. When we arrived, we were greeted by a very welcoming and cheerful lady named Jamie, who would be our translator for the class. We hit it off right off right away laughing, joking, and chatting about life, travel, and food.

 

When class was about to begin, I took off my jacket, threw it over a chair, and then strapped on my apron. Mid cooking, the restaurant staff arrived to start preparing for the days guest. Jamie said she needed to move my jacket, picked it up, and said, “Oh my gosh, is this Lululemon!?” I said yeah, “I’m a dance teacher. I practically live in Lululemon.” She then expressed her mutual love for Lulelemon and said she’s a yoga instructor and a dancer, too… She then explained how she’s actually been dancing every Sunday in Antigua’s Central Park.

 

Photo by Jeannine Swallow

Everything clicked… I said to Jamie, “You’re The Dancer of Antigua.” She nodded and a smile came across her face saying something like, “Yeah I guess I am.” I explained to her how I had heard about her through my housemates’ stories and how I was so sad that I had never saw her dancing. I think my excitement over took my brain for a few moments, and I began talking nonstop. My husband finally interrupted my excited chatter to explain to Jamie my “Dance Around The World” project. Finally, I got out… “Can I interview you?” Without any hesitation, Jamie said she would love to.

 

After the most delicious meal I’ve ever made in a cooking class, we followed Jamie through the park. It just happened to be her last day in Antigua, and she said she needed to say bye to a few friends. It was amazing following her through the park, she knew everyone and everyone knew her. Her energy was like a butterfly. She floated from friend to friend. Upon her approach the same thing happened to each person, a huge smile came across their face, their posture changed, and they literally began to glow. Her energy was contagious; I began to feel light, happy, and open just watching the interaction.

 

An artist, inspired by Jamie's dancing, sketched this for her.

We chatted for sometime, and I learned Jamie was also a shaman, a healer. She is very intuitive and has the natural ability to help people through their grievances. After being with her for a few short hours, I could also feel her healing effects on me. I felt a new sense of purpose…  Which bring us to dance, my project, and Jamie’s interview.

 

Jamie had been in Guatemala for about three months. Early in her visit, Jamie was accompanied by her mother. One Sunday afternoon they came across a band playing in the park. Jamie, a natural dancer, felt the rhythm, the energy, and couldn’t help but start moving. Someone saw her dancing, grabbed her hand and led her towards the band. A circle began to form around her and the band, and it started a weekly sometimes daily tradition. Jamie self-named “Sprit Dancer” also became known as La Bailarín De Antigua (The Dancer of Antigua).

 

Her movement is purely improvisation and is inspired by various forms of dance including, ballet, Peruvian dance, Bellying dance, Himalayan dance, and Salsa dance techniques. Jamie’s joy of dance was witnessed every week by locals and tourists. In a way, she began to heal people through her dancing. At times, people would dance with her, others watched nodding their head with respect to her, and others simply smiled while gently moving to the beat. I asked Jamie if she had any memorable stories from her viewers. She remembers, “…having an 80 year old women take me and say thank you, you’ve opened my heart.” She also recalled, “A women from Chichicastenango told me that she’s been suffering for years of heartbreak, and my dancing opened her heart to something new.”

Me & Jamie

 

After reflecting back on my interview with Jamie, I found it very hard to put in writing everything we talked about. I didn’t want to water it down. Plus, Jamie practically dances when she speaks; how could I even capture the emotion and energy. (LOL) It would be easier for me to dance about it. After a few hours of trying to put it all in words, I decided to use my iMovie skills to the test. I ended up overlaying portions of our interview over a video of her dancing. It seemed to capture the spirit perfectly. Below you will find the video.

 

I hope you enjoy!

 

– The Offbeat Ballerina

A special thanks this week goes to Jeannine Swallow, my housemate. She happened to catch Jamie dancing and allowed me to use her video to make this story a success.