So I know that last post said “I’ll update you tomorrow,” but I actually have a great excuse for not updating right away…lack of photos. Well, and also general laziness (even though this post was mostly finished), but I’m going to blame it on the photos.
On the 18th, Laura and I visited the main campus of UFC, Pici to meet one of the computer techs who will be helping our online conversation club! Before the 18th, we had really only visited the Benfica campus of UFC where the “Centro de Humanidades” is located. Benfica is split over about four different blocks, although we really only spend time at Letras, which is about the size of Dickinson’s academic quad, maybe even smaller. Pici, on the other hand, is HUGE! It houses basically every major at UFC except for humanities and medicine (which is at a different campus) and is basically the size of a small city. Luckily, Samia, the coordinator of the online program drove us, so it was easy to navigate.
After our visit to Pici, we returned to Benfica for lunch and then hung around the campus all day. Now, for a quick break from the narrative about life here, just a quick explanation of what my grant actually entails. Laura and I are working about 20-25 hours per week at UFC, as a I described in a previous post, but we’re also encouraged/supposed to develop a side project for those other 20 hours per week. Well, it just so happens that Laura and I proposed similar projects: cultural exchange through dance. While we both had different ideas of how to go about doing that (Laura is a Latin ballroom dancer and was planning on learning some Brazilian “dança de salão” and I was hoping to do something with tap dancing), we’ve ended up joining a UFC dance troupe called Oré Anacã.
Oré was started about 3 years ago and they learn and perform traditional regional dances from all over Brazil! They also organized and ran the first ever Festival Nacional Universitário de Danças Populares (National University Festival for Popular Dance). Dance troupes representing all of the regions of Brazil came to Fortaleza and performed a variety of dances representing their region. Last year, the second annual festival was in Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais, and this year they’re going to Porto Alegre. While the majority of the dances they perform represent the nordeste (northeast) region of Brazil representing the states of Maranhão, Piauí, Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Alagoas, Sergipe, and Bahia, they also perform dances from the north region (including the Amazon) and learn dances from all over. Right now, they’re in the process of learning the Siriri, from Mato Grosso.
Here’s a video of one of their performances, in case you’re interested!
So you may be wondering, how did Laura and I find this group. Well, on the first day of the conversation clubs, Laura mentioned that she was interested in joining a dance group and one of her students invited us to Oré. And it’s been amazing. Not only were we welcomed with open arms, but we only speak Portuguese in the group. [Disclaimer: many of them speak English, and I’m sure a number are reading this. Hey guys! Se quiser, podemos continuar só falando em português! 🙂 ] Many of them are studying physical education, which makes sense since the coordinator is a phys ed professors, but the students come from all different disciplines at UFC. Including a few who we occasionally see at Benfica!
The group rehearses three times a week for three hours each. Combine that with the approximate HOUR it takes us to get there (about 30-35 minutes on a regular bus and then the rest of the time waiting for the intra-campus bus), going to Oré is a huge endeavor, but it’s so worth it. One of my few regrets from my time abroad, both in Sampa and in Málaga, is that I didn’t dance, so I’m extremely happy that this has worked out.
At first, it was a little intimidating because most of them have been in the group since the very beginning and most of them already know all of the dances. And when I say all, I mean all. Most rehearsals begin with a run through of old dances and they just go and go and go. Boi Garantido, Boi Caprichoso, Afoxé, Iemenjá… they just keep doing it! But, after the first two practices, Laura and I have officially learned three and a half dances. Well, kind of. We learned the intro (São Gonçalo from Cuiabá) and about half of the Siriri, with photos below. We learned a dance from the North called “Sinhazinha,” which is just for the girls, and our biggest success to date was learning a dance called “Frevo.” The Frevo is a dance from Recife and Olinda that is traditionally performed during Carnival. It’s fast, high-energy, and involves a lot of complicated footwork. The first time we watched it, I thought to myself “how am I possible going to learn this without embarrassing myself.” And I can’t say that I necessarily did that. But have about two and half rehearsals, we had completed the Frevo! As a whole, the choreography isn’t actually that difficult, it just requires a lot of stamina and some quick thinking. I absolutely love this dance and hope I get a chance to perform it with Oré!
And now, some photos!
Overall, even though we’ve only been a part of this group for about three weeks, it’s made my time here feel so much more meaningful. Obviously, I love my work at the university (shoutout to any students who might be reading this. You guys rock!!!!), but I was starting to feel a little bit down about how little we were doing. Not that we’re not working a lot. But I felt as if we were being underutilized and that we were spending a lot of time just chilling in the apartment on days off. Since joining Oré, my schedule has been a lot busier (although there’s still plenty of time for work, Mom!) but I wouldn’t have it any other way! I’m so excited to see what comes from joining this amazing group!
Sorry this was such a long post. Actually, I’m not sorry. I feel like I’ve been apologizing at the end of all of my posts (because they’ve all been long), but anyone who knows me knows that I am rarely short of words. If you’ve made it this far, thanks! You rock! I promise no more two+ week breaks in the blog!