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After the finale of the Lithuanian Polka Dance Festival, all the performers began singing Trys Milijonai while polka dancing with each other. The main dance instructor cried out of joy, the dancers were covered in sweat and tears and the lively energy of our community permeated the space.
I reflected on the art of performance. The appearance of chaos occurring backstage as dancers rapidly changed out of their outfits and ran to their next performance, the constant yelling and shushing, but then the way we all came out on stage: smiles, quiet, perfect posture and ready to perform. Everyone orchestrated to their assigned spots and it all came together in a harmonious vision.
It all hit me, why my parents actively tried to keep me speaking fluently and pushed me to keep our tradition alive. I saw the beauty of my culture through the art of dance. The intricate handmade designs, the modesty, the community. All of the dance instructors devoted their time to teach these dances for free, simply out of a passion to keep the Lithuanian culture alive. I will forever cherish that in my heart.
I quickly changed out of my wardrobe during the finale and flew to LAX to start my thru-hike of the John Muir Trail. 👣🧚🏼‍♀️✨🌿