“I know that the Creative Renewal Arts Fellowship gave me the confidence to take such a big step. Webster defines renewal as, 'the state of being made strong again.’ I absolutely feel that way.”
Dance Kaleidoscope dancer and co-founder of The Indy Convergence, an annual professional development residency program, Caitlin Negron’s renewal centered around traveling to Haiti to study sustainable building practices. She travel to a community center called Sa-KLa-K-Wel (SLW) on the southern coast of the country near the city of Jacmel. There, she helped the leaders in the community plan and build a new community center using Earthship techniques. Earthship structures use old tires for walls, provide ways for the collection of water and food production, and maintain a constant seventy degrees inside no matter what climate the building is in. Earthships are also fireproof and built to remain intact through hurricanes and earthquakes--both huge concerns in Haiti.
While in Haiti, Negron had to slow down from her usual task-driven life. She says, “I spent many nights sitting on the roof of my temporary home, looking at the Caribbean, enjoying the time just to sit. During the days I carried buckets, shoveled, used a pick axe, pounded tires with dirt for walls, poured cement, and learned more Kreyol.” The work was difficult and invigorating, but she missed spending time with artists. During her last week, Negron had the opportunity to take a class and rehearse with a Haitian folkloric company called Gran Lakou. At her first rehearsal, she was surprised at how grateful and joyful she felt being with artists again.
The trip concluded with the annual SLW Spektak (show) where Negron performed with Gran Lakou. She says, “Dancing with Gran Lakou was exciting, hilarious, and strange all at once. I practiced alone with the rehearsal director each day during my last week in Haiti, and learned four dances in four days.” Even after a week of rehearsals, she had no idea what to expect at the show and was completely surprised when the disorganized company she thought she had been rehearsing with showed up with eight drummers, multiple costumes, and an entire vocal section of the program that brought the crowd to its feet. She says, “It very firmly put me in my place and showed me that just because I didn't understand how something would work didn't mean that it wouldn't.”