Concerning the kids in both Eleonas and Apostoli, there was something in common: they were all naughty and agitated. However, we must admit that teaching dance was much easier at Eleonas, because it seemed that all the children (or at least most of them) were genuinely interested in learning from us. We did have some interruptions though. For example, there was a point when the children were playing a “lights off” game. Whenever they had the chance, they would turn off the lights and start shouting. We don’t really know why, but they were having fun doing that. During the first day, at Eleonas, I (Rodrigo) felt really connected to one of the naughtiest kids: a three-year old Iraqi boy who was running around all the time and rolling all over the floor, making no attempt to follow the dance steps. At some point, I started playing with him a game that, at the beginning, I judged it as being quite violent. However, after playing for a while, I realized that any child, anywhere in the world, would be excited in playing this game.
The game consisted of him running towards me, trying to hit my face with his hands. Whenever he would get closer, I would then carry him with my arms, distancing him from my face and spinning him around. In a very ritualistic manner, we repeated this performance for more than 30 times. For some strange reason, after a while, I just started enjoying that act, and wanted to get to know him and his family more. In the absence of words being exchanged, I think that movement can be a powerful platform that can be used to convey meaning. By just moving around with this child, I was able to connect, even though I still don’t really know what he went through in his 3 years of life. I really hope to hear back from him again at some point – maybe when he is in Germany. In fact, his mother told me that their asylum claim is quite strong, so they should be moving to Germany any time soon. Her hope made me quite happy and excited about this little boy’s future.

Videos of the kids at the Apostoli Community Center