Dancing in New York with Santo Rico, Sept-Dec 2007
User Rating: / 5
PoorBest 
Azucena with Carmen and Liz from Santo Rico
Left to right: Carmen, Azucena, Liz (Santo Rico)
After what was truly an unprecedented Salsa fund raiser on my behalf with close to 200 people coming together to wish me farewell, I found myself in a hostel in New York City on a cold morning on September 5th, 2007. I hadn’t planned to be here exactly but circumstances had brought me to the Jazz in the Park hostel by Central Park. With fear and excitement bundled up in one package, I was to show up to my first practice with Santo Rico Dance Company later in the week....

All of a sudden the realization came to me that I was alone; I was all by my lonesome self. Carlos, my boyfriend, had so lovingly stayed with me an extra night after the New York Salsa Congress to help me find a place to stay. But he was now gone, and so were my friends Nuno, Elisabeth, and Richard who had been with me for the past 3 days. They were all back in Austin, TX. And a cold feeling of utter loneliness came over me; and yet I was determined to succeed, “to make it work” in this city of light and people from all walks of life.

I couldn’t help but question, was I making the right decision? Was I moving forward or was this a step in the wrong direction?
I couldn’t help but question, was I making the right decision? Was I moving forward or was this a step in the wrong direction? All these questions clouded my thoughts as I explored the city, the people, and the newfound places I would soon need to call “home”. But home was never the feeling I got in New York. Instead I constantly heard a voice deep inside me that said, this is just a stepping-stone, but not the end of the road. And a stepping-stone it was. Actually it was a lot more than that. In the time I was there, by myself, with the sole purpose of dancing and performing with Santo Rico, I came to see a side of me I had almost forgotten about. I found myself reading book after book, writing extensively on my journal, walking daily through the park and the streets of Manhattan and Queens, meeting strangers on the street from all races, ethnic backgrounds and socio-economic status. In the streets of Manhattan and in the loneliness of my room I found me, the raw and barebones version of me: a free-spirited woman with a strong passion for life, for learning new things, and creating more joy for herself and others.

You  have to believe in yourself when no one else does.
That's what makes you a winner. -Venus Williams

Often times we get caught up in the routine of our daily lives, in the titles we use to introduce ourselves, the clothes we wear, the car we drive, the house we live in, the people we hang out with, that we forget who we really are on the inside. We forget who we are regardless of our outer achievements and material possessions. When we are removed from our current living situation, we may encounter that without these “things” that define us, we get a glimpse of the unchangeable part of ourselves; the intangible part of ourselves that needs no external validation to be and to flourish. Sometimes when we are removed from our comfort zone, we get an opportunity to evaluate whether we actually meant to steer the boat of our life in the direction in which we’re headed.
Living in New York did just that for me. It gave me the opportunity to reassess my priorities, my values, and my personal and career goals. It helped me realize that the people that I surround myself with are more important than outer achievements. In fact, I unquestionably came to the conclusion that without a strong social network, my outer success would be meaningless and unsatisfying. Somehow I had been so focused dancing my way to higher planes in the Salsa scene that I had forgotten about other passions in my life, other aspects of myself. What a blessing in disguise!

Dancing in New York and under the direction of Tomas Guerrero, the director of Santo Rico Dance Company was by all means an amazing opportunity.
Dancing in New York and under the direction of Tomas Guerrero, the director of Santo Rico Dance Company was by all means an amazing opportunity. The Santo Rico dancers work really hard and are very committed to their passion. They are at the level that most Salsa dancers around the world would only dream of. In the short time I danced with them, learned from them, trained with them and ultimately performed with them, I was in dance heaven.  I got to test my own abilities and my capacity to stretch, to learn and memorize quickly new choreography, to correct mistakes on the spot, and to adjust to a whole new way of doing things in a new city.

On the other hand, I realize that my finances would not have allowed me to have the comfortable living in New York that I had enjoyed for so many years in Austin. I also came to see in full flesh my deep-seated desire to continue to grow Jazzy Dance Company (which I co-direct with my partner Carlos Leon) and to bring new knowledge to the Salsa scene in Austin.

They say that sometimes we have to leave to come back; and I now relate to that. Though I would have been happy to continue dancing with Santo Rico in New York, my heart was and is in Austin with my people and my friends. I thank Tomas for giving the opportunity of a lifetime and for teaching me the Santo Rico way of dancing. I also thank my friends, fans, and supporters here in Austin that always believed in me and welcomed me with open arms. Above all, I thank Carlos, for not giving up on me and for supporting me every step of the way, even when it meant we'd be apart. Sometimes love is all we need as our guide to know where home is.

Would I do it again? Probably yes. Some things we absolutely must do only to see what other doors open for us. I knew I had to give this opportunity a chance and I am happy that I did. For in the end, all we have is experiences lived, moments shared, and the peace of mind of having lived and done all the things we wanted to do, be, or have.

As Deepak Chopra once said, "Never pass up a chance to see what the Universe has in store for you."
As Deepak Chopra once said, "Never pass up a chance to see what the Universe has in store for you." I'm glad I didn't pass up on this one!


Sincerely,
Azucena Perez
Feb 10, 2008

P.S. If you want to watch me perform with Santo Rico, check out our video gallery!

 
© 2006 Jazzy Dance Company, All Rights Reserved
Joomla Templates by JoomlaShack Joomla Templates by Compass Design