5 years ago, I decided to take a moment to remember what I was born with. I was moments into my 20’s and already overwhelmed by the expectations to become a financial wizard which was paradoxical to my poetic sentiment. My family is quick to remind me that the first observation made about my life and by the doctor in the delivery room was, “Wow, she’s a fighter”.
I have since that moment and I suspect long before, spent many days and nights on the battlefield of self-expression. While this is the second summer that I will be teaching Caribbean Movement, the process of choreographing this class and also emerging as a teacher was years in the making.
I express this in my Teacher’s bio: Cassandra Fradera is a Cambridge resident born in New York City shortly after her parents and paternal grandparents migrated to New York from Puerto Rico. Cassandra began dancing at the age of 3, following her Grandfather’s salsa step while standing on top of his feet at family gatherings. She has not stopped since. Cassandra has been a student of a variety of creative disciplines and is also classically trained Oboe player, who has performed in six different countries. Cassandra’s teaching style is shaped by her passion to help others discover the joy of moving their bodies to awaken the spirit and to connect to a stronger sense of self while enjoying strong Puerto Rican beats. A lover of life and friendly beast, Cassandra has also explored other forms of dance, such as Hip-hop, Bollywood and most recently Modern. Continuously inspired by the healing arts and creative expression, Cassandra has held workshops for trauma survivors, individually works with clients/students to deepen their awareness to their bodies, have fun, and shift from inhibited expression to authentic movement.
While I coasted beneath the waves of being the “go-to gal” every time there was a dance or being outted as the person to get a lesson from before a large function, I knew that my creative consults were leading me into a direction of a broader scope. As you have come to know me digitally, I have expressed my creativity through photography, painting, and writing. What unified these activities is a sense of rhythm expressed culturally through song and dance and also a rhythm to my own expression and actions as a human being.
After a car accident in 2010 when I felt well enough to walk without a cane, I started taking Intro to Modern Classes at Green Street Studios with Sarah Mae Gibbons. I also volunteered in their Work Study Program to clean the studio and spend more time there in general. It was in moments of silence and quiet mediation before my 9:00-5:00 I began taking extra steps while sweeping the floors and on early morning shifts filled the empty studio with Puerto Rican boleros, songs, and a jams. Through modern I began more comfortable looking in the mirror. The athletic challenge of modern combined with Sarah’s healing aura was a moving experience.
I talked to her about my desire to start a class and she was supported. I remember feeling like I was walking on air after leaving the class and then dread set in once I committed to a schedule. Will anyone understand? Will a faculty of dancers who have studied and toured accepted me? I was again, on the battlefield of self expression. In moments of solitude, I have felt confident in my abilities, but in moments of being a first generation American, I felt alone brining this type of class to Cambridge, MA.
My first class last year brought 1 student. This year, it brought 5. One of the most poignant moments last summer was with a student who I literally adjusted an entire class for because his upper body was alarming stiff. After a few tracks he slowly began to move and I asked him for his permission to try experimental moves across the floor such as embodying a rooster. This seems strange for a dance class yet this was why I relished in naming my class, Caribbean Movement. By challenging my student with more intensified Merengue beats and creative visual he began to move, and smile.
After class he came up to me and shared he had been discharged from the army and this was the most he has moved since his massive heart attack. I slowly began to see in my students what I had accomplished thus far through dance which was a sense of embodiment and joy. I received a wonderful gift for having the courage to share the tool I have cultivated to help others move which was feedback that my students were feeling that I was trying to convey. As an artist, this is one of the greatest highs once can feel from creation. It it certainly worth the many nights of feeling the anxiety of, “Am I good enough?” and questioning if my class will translate to an audience and/or students.
Last Friday began year two, and this year I have been featured as a teacher in residence at http://greenstreetstudios.org/classes-2/teachers-artists-in-residence/ . This has been a personal achievement for me as I have spent many years with a talent for a fusion of movement not always offered in the communities I have grown up in, which are far from native Puerto Rican lanscapes.
Thankfully, I am surrounded by loving creative bodies who encouraged me to process such an achievement. I was able to as a part of the Cambridge community to share an art I have inherited through my ancestors and learned from watching the waves approach the shore and the birds soar in blue skies. It means a lot to me professionally, personally and as a woman to share my practice with students, and I am inspired to fuse these classes with a sense of possibility for the future and also as a way of honoring my past. I was kicked out of ballet at 5 since all I wanted to do was shake my hips when I heard music instead of stand upright. This was always a sore spot, but is now a story I tell with a big grin of my face having never given up on dance.
Caribbean Movement is open to those interested in exploring Caribbean beats and creative movement that celebrates the spirit. Experience a fusion of Reggaeton, Salsa, Bachata, Mergengue and Bellydance to create awareness in the body while opening the hips and exploring weight and movement to a dynamic soundtrack from Puerto Rico and neighboring islands. This class consists of a warm-up, isolations, and encourages exploration in movement while incorporating technical aspects such as popping and hip-shakes.
No prior experience necessary. Email: cassandra.in.movement@gmails with any question you may have.
Fridays – 6:00-7:00 – Drop/in: $10.00 – Class runs from July 12th August 23rd