Michael Campos is a choreographer and a teacher at a Latin Dance Studio in Bishkek. The 37-year-old Cuban came to Kyrgyzstan in 2015. Prior to that, he taught dance in Kazakhstan. But at some point he decided to change his life and start exploring other Asian countries. However, having arrived in our republic, he settled down and does not plan to leave it.
In an interview with 24.kg news agency, he told why he fell in love with our mountainous republic and why he wants to stay.
— Have you ever heard about Kyrgyzstan before coming here?
— Of course I have, because I worked in neighboring Kazakhstan for three years. After three years of being there, I began to think about developing Latin dances in other states. I decided to come here. I must say right away that the people and set of mind here are fundamentally different from the population and traditions of European countries. At first, it was very difficult for me to integrate into society. I cannot say that it has become easy now, but I have already got used to it.
I came to Kyrgyzstan from Kazakhstan and noticed some similarities between your states. Set of mind, traditions, language ... But you are still different. Although I have not yet identified exactly what the difference is.
— What national dishes do you like? What would you never try?
— I love plov, beshbarmak, lagman. Generally speaking, I am not picky about food. All national Kyrgyz dishes are delicious and attractive in their own way. For almost seven years of staying in Kyrgyzstan, I have tried almost everything.
By the way, feasts are arranged very nicely here, gorgeous wedding ceremonies are held. People are kind, they constantly invite to visit them, they invite to speak at various events. Besides dancing, I sing sometimes.
— I think if I didn’t like living here, I would have left a long time ago. As you can see, I have been living and working for several years. It will be trite if I say that I adore the nature of this country, but this is actually the case. The traditional dishes are the best, culture is interesting, and the girls are very beautiful.
— What do you miss in Bishkek and Kyrgyzstan?
— It’s hard for me. Loneliness, language barrier, sometimes I don’t understand people. I miss my family, I have not been to Havana (Cuba) for a very long time, I have not seen my relatives and friends who live there for a long time.
All my plans collapsed due to the COVID-19 pandemic: there was lockdown, restrictions on flights to other countries, unstable work, and incomes fell. But I think that the situation will improve soon and I will be able to visit my beloved family.
In the meantime, I work hard in the studio. I plan to acquire my own housing and get married.Michael Campos
— What is your favorite place in Bishkek?
— So let’s say, in my line of work, I constantly have to spend all my free and not free time in entertainment establishments — clubs, bars, restaurants. I regularly organize parties, Latin parties.
— I have a big family, like the Kyrgyz. There are eight of us. Besides me, there are four brothers and one sister. I am the only dancer in the family — a white crow.
I left the family nest at 23. My parents were a little worried about me. But my family and friends understand that I have a creative profession and that I need to travel and explore the world. Therefore, they fully support me. They like the way I dance, and friends approve it, especially since I am good at it.
— Are Latin dances developed in our country?
— In 2015, when I arrived in Bishkek, I barely found a group of people who wanted to learn Latin dances. Now I have several groups. There are no age restrictions. For example, the youngest students are under 10 years old, the oldest are 50.
The Latin style is not very popular now in Kyrgyzstan. The people don’t know enough about Cuban culture and dance. But everything is changing slowly. My main goal is to acquaint other peoples with the culture and traditions of my country.