Dancing With Elephants
I’ve danced in some pretty amazing places for my Dance Around The World project, but I don’t think I can top dancing with elephants in Chiang Mai. Yes, I danced with elephants!
While in Thailand, Dan and I visited the Elephant Natural Park. This park is more like a sanctuary for elephants. The organization rescues and rehabilitates elephants from all over Thailand. Many of their rescues have very sad stories, but the park thrives on volunteers and a love to help these amazing creatures.
Our time spent at the sanctuary wasn’t an informational tour, they put us to work! When we arrived we fed a group, then fed another group, gave them a bath, and then fed them again. Needless to say we were pretty busy, dirty, and stinky by the end of the day. It was totally worth it!
After a feeding and between bathing, I talked to one of the volunteers about my project. He was thrilled and allowed me time to step away from our group to grab a few frames of choreography. The plan was to shoot as much of my dance as possible with the elephants in the background. However, things changed pretty quickly.
As soon as I started dancing, the elephants became very curious. Maybe they thought I had food, were intrigued by the music, or perhaps they just wanted to see what I was doing, but every time we tried to film, the elephants always came to investigate. In fact, one came up so quickly we had to rush to safety. Funny, for as big as they are, elephants sure are quiet!
After several attempts, it looked like I wasn’t going to get the whole dance on film. Like a true artist, I had to get creative and improvise. I decided it was best to do small phrases, film in a couple of locations, and to dance without my music. Luckily, that did the trick. The elephants were less curious, and I got the shots I needed. I was pretty happy with the videos. However, some of the volunteers were sad they didn’t get to see the whole dance… guess they’ll just have to wait until it debuts on YouTube!
All in all, dancing with elephants was exciting and tricky. I can’t thank the Elephant Natural Park enough for an unforgettable experience and allowing me to dance. It was truly a gift. If you’re ever in Chiang Mai, please visit the Elephant Natural Park and volunteer. To learn more about the sanctuary, CLICK HERE!
Next stop Cambodia!