It was a beautiful morning on the 17th of November 2018 and I was feeling excited to be for the second year in raw guest artists at Ploiesti Jazz Festival. It was a feeling of accomplishment because I’ ve spent a few months working on the new ideas I had regarding dance and teaching and life in general, with the new 2018 team of dancers from my beautiful Bucuresti Swing Dance Society, and some new band members that entered my dear Sing & Swing Band that I founded with my friend and collaborator Adi
What I didn’t plan is to feel so sick when I woke up in that morning, that I couldn’t go out from the bed. It was the first time in months when I felt that. And the first thought that I had was: “I worked so much for that, it cannot be. I have to go, I have to do something”.
And at that moment I remembered what Kwenda Lima told us in the Inner Kaizen Retreat I went in September 2018 at: “If you master your mind to master your body in order to master the rhythms, you can master your life” – Kwenda Lima (teacher of Kaizen spiritual dance, Afro-contemporary, Kizomba). Thank you Kwenda for all the teachings I learned from you since 2015 and all your lifetime work.
I smiled and I started to pack my things and I decided to also ask for help from the close people around me, without worrying the band or the team because I wanted to inspire them and to make them feel that they can count on me. So, I prayed to God for help and inspiration and made few phone calls: the first call was to the life& mental coach that I have for many years (thank you Alexandra Ioo for being there when I needed in the past 10 years) saying: Alexandra, I need your support. Today I cannot manage to do all alone”. Then, I called my parents because I knew that with all the luggage I could not make it by train to Ploiesti. And the more I think about it now, I smile because I used to be a “control freak” manager and in this experience from 17th of November I learned more about trusting my inspiration, my choices, the team I have and to allow them to also inspire me and offer me support and, also for me to observe them and just pop-out into the moment when I was needed.
I remember with joy and nice feelings, all the moments created when I reached the venue of the Jam Sessions from Ploiesti Jazz Festival at Curtea Berarilor Timisoreana Ploiesti: the band having the last arrangements between them with jokes and deciding who is entering when, the dancers enjoying the venue and the moments with each other, me verifying all the last ideas of lights & sound check and, the energy created between all of us was great and inspired me to be brave and to offer the best. I still smile when I remember telling Adi
The show was great. We performed for 90 minutes and the way the venue and the organizers arranged everything, combined with the way the band played that night and the dancers had fun, inspired me so much that I didn’t feel anymore that I was sick but I danced so well and created new moves without preparing to do that. I felt the rhythms in a way that Kwenda was trying to explain to us and did exercises for us to develop, in the Retreat of 2018 and also in 2016. I started to understand parts of the exercises during the retreats, but now it felt like it was the practical exam of all the theory I learned.
I felt in that evening how the beautiful energy of the music was inside my body & soul and I heard it different and I interacted better than ever with all the members of the band & team of dancers. I was feeling all the energy of the instruments and sometimes during the performance, in my mind, I was feeling sad that I had to stay with my back towards the band, in order to perform, because everything was so nice and well done. Maybe feeling sick at that moment was the best thing because it made me eat only a little healthy food and drink only water or mint tea and made me concentrate only on the important things I had to do. My body & mind & soul connected better, giving me also the feeling of dance and the music, in a way I’ve never felt before: connected and balanced.
A small interaction also created a good vibe for me: I asked (like I always do ask at the events where I am a guest artist) the organizer, Mr. Vlad Mateescu about his opinion and some things that maybe he would want us to do more. His answer was: “Ioana, do whatever you consider doing. Just have fun, is Saturday evening”. For me, the honor to participate at this kind of event and so well organized with so many great artists like Rick Condit (Conductor, former working with Ella Fitzgerald) or Rick Margitza (Saxophone, former playing with Miles Davis ) combined with the trust he had in me & us, offered me inspiration and power also. From my point of view, giving is also learning to receive.
I can now say that I felt happiness during all that performance and all the time I spent on Ploiesti Jazz Festival. I felt togetherness and trust and inspiration from all the people involved.
After the performance, I was smiling and thanked all the participants who danced with us during our show, but in my mind, I knew that my energy will get down soon. I still felt sick and the adrenaline now was lower so, I started to feel what I avoided. I hardly managed to get to the Hotel Central Ploiesti, with the help of my team and, after a good night rest, I felt better. Thank you, team, for all :).
Next day, on 18th we had a second show, this time only with the team of dancers, during the activities promoting Ploiesti Jazz Festival: we performed at Ploiesti Shopping City. It was fun and we captured people’s attention with our Lindy Hop moves and Jazz dancing on beautiful traditional Swing & Jazz music. We also invited people to join us and the most receptive ones were children.
On 21st of November, we were invited to come again to Ploiesti, for dancing in the official opening of Ploiesti JazzFestival 2018, a Centennial edition with special guests. I felt honored to be there and prepared a special playlist with also a few Romanian songs.
A dear moment for me was when Mr. Jin Wang (Conductor and creator of a Symphony with Jazz elements) that was a guest artist for the first evening of the festival, entered into the venue and seeing us dancing, reached for his phone and started to make a video with us. It was a great idea from the organizers to bring this idea into a Jazz Festival, combining the presence of dancers with the Jazz & Swing music. In that evening I stayed to listen for a part of the concert Jin Wang conducted: pieces from West Side Story and a concert with Joanna Sachryn (Cello).
The way Mr. Jin Wang conducted the Orchestra was magic. I felt like he was into the music they played and he also made a beautiful atmosphere by the way he interacted with also us, the public, by engaging us to clap in special ways for the Orchestra. In those moments I realized that a Conductor is similar in a way with a dancer, he is part of the music, engaging it and making it through his body to sound like the musicians are playing it, or to make a new interpretation. A second inspiration thought was that the Conductor is like a manager of souls, he is interacting in a special way with each and every player of an instrument and inspire them to feel like a team, supporting each other and allowing some of the members to have their solo-moments. He inspired me in my work with my team of dancers and students and also into working with music. It is so beautiful to be a part of the rhythm of a team and engaging them to be themselves and offer to one another.
And in Ploiesti Jazz Festival I know I did mastered my life because I mastered my body through my soul & mind and the energy created was great. I still use what I learned and, by continuing to practice it will make it grow like a seed planted into the right ground.
The article will continue with part 2: “You can only connect the dots looking backward, not forward. A story about the things I learned in life which went into the way I dance, between June & September preparing what was about to happen” which is coming soon.
My special thank you go to:
* Bucuresti Swing Dance Society Team of dancers for 17th of November: Petrea Constantin Andrei; Cristian Rugina, Stoian Nicoleta, as well to the rest of the crew for support: Paula Catalina Solomon, Tea Chiru, Paidiu Andrei, Adrian Cinezean;
* Curtea Berarilor Timisoreana Ploiesti for the nice hosting we had and a great environment,
* Hotel Central Ploiesti for the special services,
* Ionut Aldea for the support in sound & light check,