SMU Abroad

SMU Abroad: Bonjour from Paris

IMG_8258By Shauna Davis

To be honest, it wasn’t until seeing the Eiffel Tower and the city of Paris from thousands of feet in the air that it hit me: I would be living, breathing and eating in France for three and a half months. At that moment I freaked out.   Surely I must have said “this is by far the coolest thing I’ve ever done!” thirty times before touching the ground.  The same thought runs through my mind every day.  I’m constantly reminded of what an incredible experience it is to be here in Paris, learning a new language, studying, traveling around Europe, experiencing a different culture and being pushed out of my comfort zone.  I could write a book on all I’ve learned thus far.

I surely miss the boulevarding, my buddies and BROWN BAG, but this opportunity is one I am so happy not to have passed up during my four years as a Mustang.  As a dance major, there is no better place to spend time than one with a rich and diverse history of art.   I’ve found a local dance studio where I’m known as the American girl who speaks ‘Franglais’ and  I feel so much apart of the community here! Paris has made me a more independent, knowledgable and aware global citizen and I’ll carry that with me always. It will be bittersweet to say au revoir to Paris but I am so excited to be welcomed back into big, beautiful Texas in a few short months! Ah!  See you soon SMU.


Spring Break en Panamá

IMG_6094.1By Shauna Davis

This past Spring Break I had the opportunity to travel internationally with several SMU dance majors (and one engineer!).  The location was Panama and what brought us there was dance.  We worked with a group called Movement Exchange that has developed partnerships with orphanages in Panama, Brazil and the States.  Over the course of a week, we taught dance classes to underserved kids in orphanages, providing them an avenue for expression, building self-confidence, developing community, and having fun.  While there we taught other dancers at the University of Panama, tried some of the local food, and fumbled our way through the Spanish language.  Luckily we picked up the words baño, numbers 1-10 and bailar right away. Among the things I learned in Panama, here are some of my highlights.

5 of the many things I learned in Panama:

1- People are always willing and able to help

2- Children are energetic balls of fun, talent, patience and stamina

3- Zanahoria means carrot… and nananja (orange) zanahoria juice is very interesting

4- Panamanian people are extremely passionate and spiritual.  On October 21, Catholics thousands make a pilgrimage to Iglesia de San Felipe in Portobelo to witness Christo Negro (the Black Christ)

5- Power in numbers is very, VERY real people- with 9 students and a combined total of 8 years of high school Spanish (and about 17 years of French) the Movement Exchange students from SMU and FSU have combined forces and made a great curriculum for the kids.


Dancing in the Fall

a1By Shauna Davis

I think I speak for the whole student body when I say that we are excited to have passed the halfway mark in the semester.  Sure, late nights of cramming for midterms are over, but for Meadows Dance majors, our biggest production is right around the corner.   This semester’s Fall Dance Concert opens next week and we are excited about the four new works (two of them world premiers) that we will have the chance to perform.

What I love about SMU is the all the opportunities it provides.  I was lucky enough to have been selected for Antony Tudor’s 1937 ballet, Dark Elegies. Because performance is live and subject to change at any moment, much of dance is passed down through an oral tradition.  So, in order to restage Dark Elegies, 80 year-old Donald Mahler, the senior stager of Tudor’s works traveled from New York to be with us here at SMU.  To be able to learn from someone who worked closely a2with an icon in the world of dance, even though his moves aren’t as spiffy as they were fifty years ago, is really extraordinary.  I get chills thinking about it!  He stayed with us for two weeks teaching us the choreography, learning our names(both wrong and right), and showing us his love of dance and it’s ability to send universal messages that touch us all.  He will be back to make the final touches on the piece this week and I am very excited.