Edgar and I first found out that we were teaching at the University of Panamá while reading our itinerary a couple of days before leaving for our exchange. Immediately, the two of us began conversing about our lesson plan and songs that we each wanted to choreograph to. While these aspects of teaching are vital to the structure of a dance class, we never could have expected the amount of support that we received during our time of instruction.

I have been teaching dance for the past 5 years form ages ranging between 6-17 years old. I have noticed that American dance students cling to their reflection in the mirror and follow the specific directions they are given throughout class. However, there seems to be a lack of community and support for their fellow classmates.

From the second I walked into the University studio, I felt the positive energy and the eagerness to work hard and focus throughout class – something I had never felt before in classes I had taught in the past. Each dancer exuded their own style and quirks throughout the movement and continued to push themselves for the entirety of the class. Edgar and I were able to combine our movement combinations and work together to give corrections and take feedback in regards to our teaching. At the end of class, I took a step back and watched the students improvise in the center of the room with their hearts exposed and minds hard at work. I felt a sense of accomplishment and excitement about my teaching abilities that I had not previously felt in the states.

While dance is considered a disciplined art form, it is also an emotional outlet. Consequently, dance promotes positive self esteem and further enhances the personalities of each dancer.
This experience has taught me to keep the mirror curtains closed, mind open, and heart exposed. My hope is to allow students to remove themselves from the mirror and focus more on the others that share the same passions and desires. You never know what you will discover about yourself while interacting with others.

- Terra Deal, Move-Ex Dance Diplomat
UC Irvine