And Now, We Dance…

Hannah Jacobsma
July 1, 2014

Bonjour tout le monde!

I sit here at the wooden kitchen table in a chair that has become “mine,” and it all feels so natural. The paintings that my host-mom did, the small lamp on the counter that my host-mom made (she’s really quite artsy), are all becoming familiar. Then I remember that only a week has passed by. It feels like I’ve been here so much longer!

Remember how I said we came across traditional dancing the other night? Well we got to talking to one of the woman who happened to be the president of the traditional dance group here in Arles called, “D’ici et D’ailleurs.” She invited a few of us to join the group for their last get together this past Thursday. We didn’t really know what to expect, but figured it would be a neat experience. And it was just that. Absolutely wonderful in every way. We were greeted by about thirty smiling, Arlesain faces excited to have us there, more than happy to invite us into their dance circle. For the next two hours we polkaed and Mazurka-ed, spinning and 1,2, 3-ing, everyone turning about the room with a freeness and joy that was nothing short of contagious.

The man instructing the class announced that we would now do a dance for someone special. The woman standing next to me explained that a woman who is a part of their group is very sick and only has a few months yet to live. So we learned the steps and then the music began and then we were dancing. We made a circle, hand in hand, side stepping left and then right. At the end everyone came in to make the circle very tight and we all lifted our hands to the sky, and we all let out a big, “Awwwwww,” smiling at each other with this woman, who I don’t even know, in mind. It was lovely to see, really. How people from different places regard the same things, like death, in different ways. In that moment it was with reflection and joy and dance, which seems to me a perfect way to celebrate the life of a friend.

After the dancing everyone pushed tables together and fabricated a pot-luck kind of meal with things each of them had brought. They insisted that we stay and so we did, tasting different foods made in their homes, and talking and laughing. And then we danced some more to the song, “I’ll Tell Me Ma,” and Irish folk song, skipping and laughing, all out of breath because we were quite full from having just picked over the dessert table.

It amazes me how easily people can accept you into their lives. With my host family too, it all seems so natural. People may seem complicated, and though there is truth to that, I think there is a simplicity and a sameness that allows us to connect. The simplicity of a love for dance, in this case.


Hannah Jacobsma

<div><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hello! My name is Hannah Jacobsma. I am a French and English double major at Hope College. I am studying abroad in Arles this summer for six weeks, and couldn&#39;t be more stoked! To explore and be immersed in this culture, meeting people of all kinds along the way, is what I look forward to the most. I&#39;d love to share my journey with you all, and tell you stories along the way. ~Peace and Blessings</span></div>

2014 Summer 1, 2014 Summer 2
Home University:
Hope College
French Language
Explore Blogs