Rebecca Warthen teaching at a public school in Dominica. Photo courtesy Peace Corps
Rebecca Warthen was on a year-long assignment with the Peace Corps in Dominica last fall when a storm started brewing. A former dancer with North Carolina Dance Theatre (now Charlotte Ballet) and Columbia City Ballet, she'd been sent to the Caribbean island nation to teach ballet at the Dominica Institute of the Arts and in outreach classes at public schools.
But nine and a half months into her assignment, a tropical storm grew into what would become Hurricane Maria—the worst national disaster in Dominica's history.
Ruins in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. Photo by Roosevelt Skerrit, Courtesy
I haven't been able to sleep, eat or dance as usual since Hurricane Maria destroyed my home in Puerto Rico while I was visiting from school. My family was able to fly back to stay with my mother's relatives in Florida, although the BFA program I attend is unfortunately in another state. I can't stop crying or thinking about our house collapsing around us. I also feel badly that I can't help my friends. Why am I so weak?
Jared Matthews and Yuriko Kajiya. Photo by Tetsu Maeda, Courtesy Matthews.
For many victims of recent natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria, the new "normal" involves power outages, food shortages and massive property damage. The dance community has stepped up to help by doing what they do best: This Sunday, October 22, members from major American companies will perform in two separate concerts in New York City, benefitting those affected by the hurricanes in Texas and Puerto Rico.