A Very Special Day.

DSC_7343WDSC_6777W DSC_7372WDays like today are rare and sacred and it is one that I will never forget. My experience of today shed light on a painful and confusing journey that has been my Fulbright experience and allowed me to see why it was all worth it. I came to Israel on a dream, a dream to dance and learn Gaga, a dream that took me four years to accomplish. Dreams are as elusive as dance. They surprise and attack you, and through the discovery of following their lead, you ultimately build faith in your personal pursuit of truth. The reality of my dream to come to Israel has been nothing like the dream I set out to achieve. And somehow, it has been everything that I needed. Success is a funny character and I measure myself all the time. This year my successes take the form of abstract renderings of the very things that I have failed to do. I came to Israel in hopes of redeeming a missed opportunity to become a certified Gaga teacher in 2011. I did not succeed in obtaining certification, but the redemption happened nonetheless. Today I lead the students of the Steps Dance School of Movement and the Performing Arts through a demo-lecture showcasing GYROKINESIS exercises, pointe exercises, and contemporary rep on pointe, all of which were quite new for the students. And where did this demo-lecture take place? In the Batsheva Dance Company Studio Varda, the very place that my dream was first born. Needless to say, the completion of this dream cycle is profound for me. I left tonight’s demo-lecture with a gift which consisted of a box filled with tiny boxes containing love notes to dance and to me from each of my students. When they presented this gift to me at the end of the performance it was a total surprise. They were speaking in Hebrew and I wasn’t even aware that I was being honored until one of my students nudged me to look across the room. I couldn’t believe it. I smiled and cried as I gave every single one of these twenty-five sweaty post-performance dancers a true hug of gratitude. They helped me complete this abstract messy dream. They helped bring my experience full circle. Their love of dance, their love of learning, their enthusiasm and kindness, redeemed my struggle, and in this moment I felt whole again. It was truly beautiful, ballet in batsheva. And it was mine.

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For Eric

I am going to miss my Fulbright friends so much. This post is a tribute to the one and only Eric Shuman, the man with the plan, who always has his google maps ready leading the way, first on the dance floor, smart and willing to educate you on all things politics and international relations, with the HUGEST heart of any person I have ever met, who knows how to rub two pennies together and make a party, who first brought me to the West Bank and opened my eyes to the Palestinian people, who helped me with translations for my project, who’s floor mattress I could always crash on, who is going to do a Master’s program entirely in Hebrew… Eric, I will never ever ever forget our fun times together. You were there for many of the highlights of my Fulbright experience. I cannot thank you enough. Fulbright friends forever. Best of luck for another miserly, intellectual, and celebratory year in the Middle East. The drip is real. With all my love, Casey
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IOCB with Dance Theater of Harlem

I had the privilege of joining Kellye Saunders, Ballet Master at the Dance Theater of Harlem, for some outreach workshops while DTH was touring in Israel. We visited the Salma Dance Academy in Haifa which provides a professional platform for dance instruction and performance for the Palestinian-Arab community in Haifa. Here is a video of their senior company rehearsing and some little cuties filling out cards for If I Were You.