Portrait of Silvana Cardell

“Living in between cultures and places is an exciting place for me. It makes me appreciate people and their journeys in life. “

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Silvana Cardell is the choreographer of Supper, People on the Move.

I came to the USA twice as a student, first as undergraduate, later as a graduate student. During both stays I considered myself a visitor, not an immigrant. As a visitor I felt appreciated and welcomed. I did not know that my “visitation” would extend into becoming a permanent move. Ongoing decisions were almost made for me, engaging opportunities for my family motivated us to become part of the communities where we were visiting, the decision to stay was gradual.

A sense of adventure motivated me to leave my birth country, as well as thirst for knowledge. As a young dancer, I deeply admired American dance and art as well as the development of higher education. During my first stay in the USA (1986–90) my goal was to immerse myself in the creativity of this culture. I returned in 2002 bringing my family, my husband and my two children. This time I was interested in completing a master’s degree and to immerse my children ages six and nine in a new culture; my goal was too broaden their education and their life experience.

The day I left Buenos Aires, I remember the moment we left, we had two suitcases each, including the children; my mother, brother and father-in-law spread the suitcases in their cars and drove us to the airport. The very moment I left my house was rushed; it was impulsive—many people moving fast bringing suitcases to the cars, rather dark, around 7 pm on a winter day. I can see today that that day I was leaving behind loved ones and familiar places; I remember the sense of detachment as well as an inexplicable excitement.

We traveled by plane, a flight to New York and a rental van to get to New Jersey, to my friend Monica’s house, my old college roommate.

I remember we arrived on July 3. I clearly remember the dichotomy: suddenly I was in festive environment, people were getting ready for the 4th of July festivities. It was summer, leaving Buenos Aires in winter, and in the mist of a rather depressive financial crisis. I was trying to navigate the contrasting experiences.

Leaving Buenos Aires, we had a series of festive lunches and dinners with friends and family. I do not remember the food. I remember that the environment was loving, supportive, and I cried a lot thinking that I was going to be away for a while. I am very close to my family, the hardest thing I have ever done was to move away from my nephews, whom I love dearly.

I feel pulled between cultures, but I feel as if I do not have a choice, I cannot decide where I want to be. If I am in Argentina, I miss being here and vise versa. Living in between cultures and places is an exciting place for me. It makes me appreciate people and their journeys in life. Our moves, our journeys in life have been worth it in many ways, the immersion in another culture is a rich experience, everybody should try to become an immigrant, not only will it open your horizons, it will also open your eyes!


Spanish translation by Elizabeth Pascual/ Traducción al español por Elizabeth Pascual

Silvana Cardell, Coreógrafa, de Buenos Aires, Argentina

Vine a los Estados Unidos en dos ocasiones como estudiante, primero como estudiante universitaria, más tarde como estudiante de posgrado. Durante ambas estancias me consideraba unavisitante, no un inmigrante. Como visitante me sentí apreciada y acogida. Yo no sabía que mi “visitación” se extendería a convertirse en una mudanza permanente. Las decisiones en curso fueron casi hechas para mí, las oportunidades para mi familia nos motivó a formar parte de las comunidades donde estábamos visitando, la decisión de quedarse fue gradual.

Un sentido de aventura me motivó a abandonar mi país natal, así como la sed de conocimiento. Como joven bailarina, admiré profundamente la danza y el arte americano, así como el desarrollo de la educación superior. Durante mi primera estadía en los Estados Unidos (1986-90) mi objetivo era sumergirme en la creatividad de esta cultura. Volví en 2002 trayendo mi familia, mi marido y mis dos hijos. Esta vez me interesé en completar una maestría y en sumergir a mis niños de 6 y 9 años en una nueva cultura; mi objetivo era también ampliar su educación y su experiencia de vida.

El día que salí de Buenos Aires, recuerdo el momento en que nos fuimos, teníamos dos maletas cada uno, incluyendo a los niños; mi madre, mi hermano y mi suegro esparcieron las maletas en sus autos y nos llevaron al aeropuerto. El momento en que salí de mi casa fue apresurado; era impulsivo – muchas personas se movían rápidamente trayendo maletas a los coches, bastante oscuro, alrededor de las 7 PM en un día de invierno. Hoy puedo ver que ese día estaba dejando atrás a los seres queridos y a los lugares familiares; Recuerdo la sensación de desprendimiento así como una inexplicable emoción.

Viajamos en avión, un vuelo a Nueva York y una camioneta de alquiler para llegar a Nueva Jersey, a la casa de mi amiga Monica (compañera de cuarto en la Universidad de licenciatura).

Recuerdo que llegamos el 3 de julio. Recuerdo claramente la dicotomía – de repente estaba en un ambiente festivo, la gente se estaba preparando para las festividades del 4 de julio. Era verano, saliendo de Buenos Aires en invierno, y en la niebla de una crisis financiera bastante depresiva. Estaba tratando de navegar las experiencias contrastantes.

Saliendo de Buenos Aires, tuvimos una serie de comidas y cenas festivas con amigos y familiares. No recuerdo la comida. Recuerdo que el ambiente era amoroso, solidario y lloré mucho pensando que iba a estar ausente por un tiempo. Tengo una estrecha relación con mi familia, lo más difícil que he hecho fue alejarme de mis sobrinos, a quienes amo mucho.

Me siento atraída entre culturas, pero siento como si no tuviera otra opción, no puedo decidir dónde quiero estar. Si estoy en Argentina, extraño estar aquí y viceversa. Vivir entre culturas y lugares es un estado emocionante para mí. Me hace apreciar a la gente y sus viajes en la vida.¡Nuestros movimientos, nuestros viajes en la vida han valido la pena en muchos sentidos, la inmersión en otra cultura es una experiencia rica, todo el mundo debe tratar de convertirse en un inmigrante, no sólo abrirá sus horizontes, también abrirá sus ojos!

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Portraits of People on the Move tells the stories of Philadelphia-area immigrants through their own words on the Supperdance.com blog and was first shown as an exhibition June 25–28, 2015, at the Gray Area of Crane Arts in Philadelphia. The exhibition was created as a companion work to Supper, People on the Move by Cardell Dance Theater, a dance inspired by themes of migration.

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