Dancing in the Clouds

Katarina Guillot - Ecuador


January 9, 2019

Ever Since I was a little girl, dance has consistently been a part of my life. Throughout the process of applying to GCY, I knew that choosing a country that would allow me to learn a lot about different styles of dances would be the main factor in my decision. After lots of investigating, Ecuador seemed like the perfect fit for me from having Bachata, Salsa, Reggaeton, Fandango, and more running throughout all of Ecuador. 
Now that I am in the country, my dance life has been a rollercoaster throughout my first 4 months here. In month one I decided to focus on settling in forgetting about the extracurriculars I wanted to pursue. So even though I had found a routine, I felt something was missing. About a month later, I remembered how dance makes me feel whole, so my host mom began to ask neighbors if they knew of a local dance group and that’s how I discovered, “The Magic Crew.”
Initially, I was reluctant to enter any group because I am still not fluent in Spanish. At that point it dawned on me: dance is a language which doesn’t require words but instead keen observation. As we drove up to the dance studio, I had no idea what to expect. I was super nervous and felt like I had eaten a whole bowl of butterflies for breakfast. As I entered the door, I felt exposed as all eyes turned on me. The teachers greeted me and asked that I introduce myself. In broken Spanish mixed with raw nerves, I managed to spew out something which resulted in everyone laughing. I stood in the back as electronic music with broad beats began playing. Suddenly, in perfect sync, the dance group performed complex movements. This was my first exposure to electro dance. For the first few days, I merely observed. But after class, I practiced every day at home until I mastered the steps. Two weeks later, I was picked to perform in the group’s dance videos posted every week. 
Three weeks later, I was confident enough to audition for a Halloween music video and I landed the principal role in a Zombie version of “Alice in Wonderland.”I have quite literally fallen through a rabbit hole since beginning my first day of classes. I’ve been told that “The Magic Crew” has a strong global YouTube following and one of its videos has over 7.3M hits! Now, a month later, I will be transitioning from the roles of student to performer to instructor as I will be teaching contemporary dance to the group. Yesterday, I was asked to join the group in an international dance competition held in Bogota, Colombia. They said, “we think we can win with her.”I’ve found my inner warrior and know I can master whatever I set my mind to do.
This rapid transition from student to global dance competitor thrilled me but little did I know that this rush would die instantaneously. Two and a half months in country I made the decision to switch host families. There are many reasons why people switch families, sometimes they just don’t click and the best thing to do is a switch. It never occurred to me that this move would take me away from my dance family. As I moved communities, I felt like I was starting all over from scratch again. A new family, A new apprenticeship, and no more dance group. 
After coming to terms with the move I decided to take action and find myself a new dance group. I began with stumbling upon a Youtube channel of a group called “The Nux Crew.” I read it was a half hip hop group and half indigenous dance group. I instantly messaged the director of the group and received an enthusiastic response back to come to check them out. A week later I went with my friend Holly as we excitedly went for our first day. Within 10 minutes we were told to quickly get ready and warm up. After 30 minutes of the class, we hysterically laughed every time we looked at each other as we realized the class was too hard for us. We didn’t quit, but we definitely didn’t get the choreography under our belts. After the class, I was asked to be in a video that night and performance the following day. I laughed, and my mind was screaming that I can’t do this. “Why the heck not”, was what came out instead. 
That night I danced in their music video and messed up about 100 times. As luck would have it, the video posted on youtube hid all the parts I messed up since at some angles the person in front of me covered me. I guess it was the dance gods looking down over me. The next day I woke up at 7 am to go to a Folklorico dance performance. Without even practicing the dance I had learned just the day before I was put into hair and makeup. The costume was something completely different than I have ever worn. A large pink skirt, an embroidered white top, and beautiful jewelry were covering my body as we were told it is time to perform. 5 minutes before we were scheduled on stage the girls told me to switch from the right side of the stage to the left. As nervous as I already was this made it worse because now all the steps would be in reverse. I panicked and going onto the stage, all I could remember is nothing. I messed up and everyone else did too. We were all turned around and the performance was an absolute disaster. I loved the people in the group, but I knew that this group wasn’t the one for me. However, I did learn one thing, even though the performance was a disaster I decided to stick with learning the indigenous dances of Ecuador and find a group solely based on that. 
After a week of finding nothing, I decided to use my time helping my family at their work. One day while painting posters I heard music playing from the other building. I walked over to find a dance group practicing and low and behold, an indigenous dance group. I promptly asked if there was a possibility I can join and I was quickly welcomed after that. The dances clicked, and I loved learning the traditional dances of Ecuador. From the costumes and the performances, everything was amazing, and I was happy to have made a new family again and settle down.
As my time here in Ecuador is passing by, my feet are being swept from underneath me as my plate gets filled with things I have to take care of: from medical issues to projects, to developing new friends, to Independent Travel, I feel like a whirlwind hit my life. However, dance is always there for me not moving now in constant space for me to come back to when I can. Nothing ever goes as planned, and I never thought that I would have ended up bouncing around through dance group. However, throughout all of it, I am happy because the little 6 old me who loved to dance would have never imagined that I would be dancing in the clouds all the way across the world. 

Katarina Guillot