Twelve years ago, a massive collaboration of dances from different cultures took the Paramount Stage and swept the audience off their feet. This year, they performed at the Long Center from April 16-26 for ten captivating shows.

Hosted by the Tapestry and featuring Austin Dance India’s Anu Naimpally, Bint El Balad Ensemble, the Irish Dance Center, — which was the company I was in — The Love of China, Lannaya Drum and Dance, and Roy Lozano’s Ballet Folklorico, Esprit! (pronounced espree) had something for everyone to enjoy. The Austin American Statesman commended it as “A visual feast from its dreamlike start to thunderous finish!” The whole show was a beautifully colored celebration full of joy.

Backstage was no different. Everyone from the different companies was laughing together, taking pictures and learning styles of dance from each other. It was a life-changing joint effort I’ll never forget. Acia Gray, co-founder of Tapestry and director of this production, began tearing up before the last show while making a speech to the entire cast. “This is more than just a showcase of different types of dance. What you should take away from this is not only the memories, but a better understanding of all human beings, because we all come from the same place. So keep your eyes, ears, and mind open and appreciate everything and everyone around you.”