As a deeply curious individual, I have always been utterly fond of delving into and exploring the diverse array of cultures that surround us. Even more so, what has always fascinated me is the how music and dance, in different shapes, ways and forms, makes up a universally fundamental aspect of every culture known to man. As such, one such culture that I have always wanted to experience and that I am finally able to get acquainted with, thanks to my lovely bunch of peers at the University, is the Latin American culture in all its richness.
Apart from the scrumptious Mexican, Brazilian, and even Colombian cuisines amongst others, which by the way can be found in abundance all over Paris, what has truly struck a chord with me is getting to learn Salsa, a dance form that I have always dreamt of taking a plunge into. And rightly so, the opportunity presented itself for the first time during the week-long sports trip organized in June of 2022 by the Sports Department of the Université de Paris in the gorgeous region of Ardèche situated in the department of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes in Southeastern France.
While the adrenaline-filled activities such as exploration of the caves, rock climbing, canyoning, canoeing and hiking were lined-up for us during the days, the evenings were rather very calm, inviting us to casually unwind and most of all, shake a leg or two at the terrace. It is during one such evenings that the maestro Jeanne Robin took us for a spin into the flamboyant world of Salsa, and having been truly enchanted right there and then, I have not looked back since as letting my body express itself through Salsa has become an important personal ambition.
Hence, when the new academic year dawned upon us in September, I immediately browsed through the plethora of sports being offered at the University, including the various dance forms, and signed up for Salsa with Jeanne Robin. Finally, the day had arrived when I found myself totally surrounded by fellow Salsa enthusiasts in one of the dance rooms next to the Gymnase Sophie-Germain at the Campus Grands-Moulins. Constantly having her presence felt in the spacious room, it was not long before Jeanne had diffused her passion onto us as we found ourselves grooving to the beats in sync with our partners.
From September through to December, we would all eagerly show up to Jeanne’s class every Tuesday at Campus Grands-Moulins. During the two-hour long class, we would first warm-up, reinforce the previously learnt steps, learn about three to four new ones and then finally, perform the Rueda, a customary Salsa routine where all the dancers collectively dance while assembled in a large circle. In such a manner, we get to dance with every single dancer as we move around the circle in a rhythmic fashion.
With an Enchufla here and a Sombrebo there, we all shook and twirled while being zapped into another dimension altogether. After our regular lessons, we also had the opportunity to get a flavour of Bachata and Kizumba during the “séance de danse libre” which lasted for about an hour. Moreover, every couple of weeks, we were invited to Salsa evenings in the city where we could put our skills to use and dance our hearts out till the morning. It was truly an exceptional experience!
Jeanne is a phenomenal instructor who ensures that we are truly immersed into a different world altogether! Her zeal and fervor are incredibly contagious, and she truly makes the experience so smooth and effortless. As she says, “If you can walk, you can dance!”. Truer words have never been spoken! Absolutely anybody is capable of dancing, for it is an exquisite way to express oneself. Indeed, I am utterly ecstatic to have had the opportunity to learn Salsa with Jeanne and an amazing bunch of peers at Université de Paris Cité with whom, as a danse lover, I could cultivate a new form of self-expression. When words fall short, dancing enables us to articulate ourselves in profound ways.
As a foreign student in France, I strongly urge you to explore the sports, including dance and other activities, being offered in your university which can either be practiced recreationally or be substituted for a course that you can get credit for! Studying in France comes with a remarkable set of opportunities to discover oneself through a unique process of immersion not only in the French culture, but also into a host of others as it is a truly diverse destination which has something in store for everyone!
P.S. That is not Jeanne in the photos ! 😛
It is a lovely peer of mine from the class who I frequently partnered up with.