Que No Pare la Fiesta! (aka: Zumba!)

If there is one thing you should know about me, it is that I am a constant ball of energy. Despite my exercise-induced allergic reactions, despite my chronic anemia, and despite my, ehrmgenerous bust size, I love to be active. I work out every single day, with few exceptions. I run, do workouts at the gym, swim, play tennis, and, until recently, soccer.  I also enjoy occasional group fitness classes, like yoga or step aerobics. But by far, the workout I find the most enjoyable is Zumba.

Zumba class fitness

What the heck is Zumba, you ask? Read on:

What is Zumba?

Zumba is a dance party! More specifically, it’s an aerobic dance fitness class featuring music styles such as salsa, reggaeton, cumbia, merengue, cha-cha, soca, hip-hop, flamenco, and rumba. But it is so much fun, that the official Zumba marketing slogan is, “Ditch the Workout — Join the Party!” 

Zumba logo

How did Zumba start?

Zumba started as a mistake in the 1990’s by Columbian dancer and choreographer, Beto Perez, who forgot to bring his aerobics mixtape to a class he was leading. He ended up playing a cassette tape of Latin dance music he had in his car, and the world’s greatest fitness dance party was born. No one could resist swaying their hips and moving their feet to the infectious Latin rhythms. The movement spread, and now, Zumba is practiced by millions of people in more than 100 countries worldwide.

 Who does Zumba?

Everyone! Zumba is not a dance instruction class. Whether you’ve had years of dance and fitness training, or whether you are a newbie with two left feet, you can jump into a Zumba class and have a great time getting in shape. Even though there is usually a big mirror at the front of the studio, people aren’t watching you to make sure you can swing your hips or shake your shoulders correctly. (Thank goodness, because I can’t twerk to save my life, hahaha!)

Zumba Class for All

Is Zumba an effective workout?

Yes! In a forty-minute Zumba class, an average person can burn 350-650 calories. With Zumba’s high energy style and interval-style intensity fluctuations, it has been shown to burn more calories than a number of other group exercise classes, including step aerobics, indoor cycling, hooping, and cardio kickboxing. And just as important — Zumba is fun! The most effective workout is one that you will keep doing on a regular basis. Still not sure? The best way to find out is to throw on your sneakers and head to your nearest Zumba class. Don’t worry about not knowing the steps, because no one is watching. Come join the party!

My Zumba Playlist Favorites

Firehouse — Daddy Yankee

Mi Gente — J Balvin, Willy William

Vem Dancar Kuduro (Oy Oy Oy) — Lucenzo ft. Big Ali

Chantaje — Shakira

Shaky Shaky (Terremoto) — Daddy Yankee

Baila Esta Cumbia — Selena

Don’t Stop the Party — Pitbull, TJR

Moviendo Caderas — Yandel ft. Daddy Yankee

 

 

 

Winterguard: Sport of the Arts

In high school, I was involved in marching band, along with thousands of other artistic teens with no life. (Just kidding – I totally had a life back then). However, I was not musically talented enough to march through the streets with a huge, shiny sousaphone, trumpet, or flute. Nope. I was a member of the pageantry unit.

Okay look. Pageantry unit members deserve more respect. Please do not call us “flag twirlers,” or worse, wannabe cheerleaders. Because please – cheerleaders could not do half the skills that the colorguard could do. That is, at least not my colorguard. You may call us PUMs, colorguard members, talented dancers, or, if you prefer, the goddesses of marching band who were much more interesting to watch than the uniformed clones with their funny hats and horns.

(Kidding, kidding! I love musicians. Musicians rock.)

In the fall and spring, the colorguard serves as mostly a support unit for the marching band – a show of pageantry to add visual interest and get the crowd excited (okay STOP the cheerleader comparisons. So not the same thing!). However, in the winter, the colorguard finally gets to break away from the musicians and shine in an arena that belongs only to them. Well, to them and the percussionists.

Winterguard.

Winterguard dancer

I can probably speak for many members and former members of colorguard when I say that Winterguard was the best, most exciting part of the marching band year. So much so that I will only write it with a capital W. Oh wait…you’ve never heard of Winterguard? Seriously? Where on earth have you been? Winterguard is where color meets sound in a dazzling display. Winterguard is the showcase of the band pageantry world. Winterguard is an exciting explosion of talent, skill, music, and…okay wait. I’m probably not explaining it well. Perhaps this video will help:

Just in case that did not help, here is a simpler explanation. Winterguard is a performing arts competition involving colorguard teams (although the percussion units have their own portion). It often involves a blend of dance and equipment work, with props such as flags, sabers, and rifles (no, not real ones). Most Winterguard team members then go home and twirl broomsticks, baseball bats – basically anything long and straight. (Some of us still do this, years later).

Sadly, high school budgets have made marching band programs all but extinct, including colorguards. So I won’t get a chance to push my kids into getting involved at their schools.  However, many independent guards exist around the country. Or perhaps around the world, judging by the name of the main organization, Winterguard International. Thanks to these independent guards, many talented young musicians, percussionists, and yes, colorguard members can still perform and compete against other teams. And Winterguard fans, like I, can still sit in the stands and cheer on the creative young athletes as they participate in the sport of the arts.

Through the Reflection (aka: The Art of Questioning Art)

What is art? Is it famous paintings encased in glass at museums? Is it the classical music from two hundred years ago? Does modern pop music also count as art? Is it dance? Is it literature, scenery, or architecture? Is art, like Plato said, merely an imitation of an imitation; simply a deceptive illusion of life? Is it enough to simply say that we like art, or should art mean something more? How do we know the difference between what is art and what is entertainment?

The Goddess Minerva surrounded by the 9 Muses, who inspired each branch of the Arts

The Goddess Minerva surrounded by the 9 Muses, who inspired each branch of the Arts

 

I love the arts. And it is because of that passion for the arts that I ask these questions. Years ago, when I was a drama student in high school, my instructor posed the above question:  How do we know the difference between what is art and what is entertainment? The short answer is this: Entertainment simply serves to treat the senses, and everyone will experience it the same way. Art, however, is far deeper. Rarely will two people see it in the exact same way.

I prefer to put it like this: Entertainment tells us, this is the way life is. Art makes us ask the question, is this the way life is?

In other words: Buffy the Vampire Slayer = Entertainment. Girl sees vampire. Vampires are evil. Girl stakes vampires in the heart and kills them. Good wins. Yay for everyone!

However, Shaun of the Dead = Art. Because, although Shaun and his friends are out there killing the obviously evil brain-hungry zombies, we are left to wonder if the real “Zombie Apocalypse” is already happening all around us, only those zombies are the apathetic, complacent people we already know.  The film also poses the question, “When our loved ones transform into zombies, do we destroy them in order to save ourselves, or do we stay and help them?” (Surprisingly deep thinking from an otherwise silly and ridiculous movie).

Scene from Shaun of the Dead (2004). Is it art or entertainment? Are those zombies or concert fans? Or are the two one and the same?

Scene from Shaun of the Dead (2004). Is it art or entertainment? Are those zombies or concert fans? Or are the two one and the same?

There are many more ways to define the arts and why they matter to people. They are a reflection of the human spirit. They are an expression of that which we experience in the natural world. They are a tool for communicating the thoughts, ideas, and emotions which we cannot express in another way. But I think the most important thing is that whether it is through a painted canvas, an artfully crafted sculpture, a melody, poetic lyrics, an inspiring story, or dance, art has a way of touching and rousing the spirit like nothing else can. Perhaps there is a lot of truth in Plato’s definition of art as mere imitation of the real world. But often it is through those reflections of real life that we best see ourselves.

The Kiss (Lovers), 1908-1909 Gustav Klimt

The Kiss (Lovers), 1908-1909 Gustav Klimt

Why I Am An Artist

 

Can you see in the way I move

the flow of the river

flashing green ripples

of glittering suns?

The smooth curves of the earth

and violent, rocky  passion

of the sea?

Do you feel the way it moves inside of me?

Can you hear in the colors I paint

the harmonic battle

the clash and attack of drums that

startle melody awake?

The sweetness of flutes

rising to meet the dawn

like the song of the first bird of spring?

Do you hear it sing?

 

¿Puedes ver en la forma en que me muevo
el flujo del rio
las ondas verdes y brillantes
de soles relucientes?
¿Las curvas suaves de la tierra
y la pasión violenta y rocosa
del mar?
¿Sientes como se mueve en mi interior?
¿Puedes oir en los colores que pinto
la batalla armónica
el choque y ataque de la batería que
le despierta  sorprendida a la melodia?
¿La dulzura de las flautas
Que se levantan para encontrarse con el amanecer
Como la canción del primer pájaro de la primavera?
¿Lo oyes cantar?

The Most Beautiful Dance

    The Beautiful Game

Look again

at the wide green stage

for each is a dancer

in this great ballet

twisting, gliding, soaring

through the air

glisse, jete

bodies connect in a perfect

pas de deux

flowing in unison

to the music

of their fans

a bright flash of color

a graceful chasse

as toes point

to seek their prize

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