I don’t need to preach to you guys how traveling will change you and show you new things about yourself and blah blah blah. You probably know this and are sick of hearing it. But I’ve been thinking about what exactly I’ve learned about myself from each place and came up with the 5 major things that Tangier has taught me. It's time to get personal.
1. I am incapable of settling. This is something traveling in general has shown me. No matter how much I love a place, after a little while there I am always ready to move on to something and somewhere new. There's too much to see in this world and I want to take in as much as I possibly can until I explode. Oh, and this realization doesn't just apply to places, either. It has been a very long time since my last real relationship. Not that this is a problem, but sometimes I end up feeling like I left behind some wonderful possibilities in various cities...
2. To be taken seriously, you just have to act like you know what you’re doing. Even if you don’t have a clue. People I meet are generally impressed that I'm doing everything I'm doing with so much confidence and I'm only 20 years old. Here's the thing. Sometimes I'm terrified. Sometimes I am incredibly insecure. Sometimes I wonder what the hell I'm doing with my life. But when I start to feel like that, I just put on a smile and my power boots and tell myself "You will be fine. You can do this." And usually I can. I had no idea what I was doing in Morocco. Now I do.
3. Sometimes showing vulnerability is a really good thing. This one was harder for me to learn than the one above. When I came to Morocco I tried to act super confident and like I wasn't afraid of anything. Culture shock? Psh, never heard of it. The truth is I was falling apart on the inside. I felt totally lost and alone in a place where the language and culture is so different from everything I'm used to. When I finally opened up and confessed this to a couple people here, my life became so much easier. They were sympathetic and helpful and I ended up making some amazing friends, just by letting my guard down.
4. A language barrier is not the end of the world. Smiles and hand gestures go a long way. So does learning the basics in any language. I can now say "hello," "thank you," "goodbye," and count to 7 in arabic which has helped tremendously. Oh and I can say "half a kilo of mint, please." How else would I make my tea every day?
5. It is actually possible to create a 45 minute long dance performance in 3 weeks with 7 dancers, 4 of whom don’t speak English and most of them with little to no background in contemporary dance. That is what I did here. Seriously. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I could do something like this, especially with no degree and only 3 years of choreography experience. But I was so bored with doing French-to-English translations at my internship here that I put together a proposal, the directors of the Cinematheque agreed, I found 7 young performers in the community here, we had 7 rehearsals and by the end we had a contemporary dance show complete with music, lights, and projections. I know for a fact it wasn't the best thing I have ever choreographed, technically, but considering the time limit I think it ended up pretty amazing. The piece was about personal vs. group identity and was followed by an audience discussion, which can be terrifying if nobody has anything to ask. Luckily that was not the case. My dancers were such hard workers. They really embraced the new style of movement and even if not everyone in the audience really "got" modern dance, it introduced a new art form to a lot of people in Tangier and sparked discussions and thought. You'll never know what you are capable of until you try. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to inspire and create something in this beautiful city.
Photo credits: Abdel-Mochine Nakari