Janice Garcia

Scholarship Recipient and Student

Janice Garcia

Many things have happened to me in my life, but dance has been the most rewarding of them all. At nine years old I began to include dance in my daily life I started with ballet, eight years later I am dancing flamenco. In between I had numerous years of dancing Mexican folkloric. For eight years I have been practicing, performing, learning, and gaining from dance. Each year, each dance, each performance has led to confidence that I completely lacked in the beginning. Confidence was key in dancing exquisite and assertive ethnic dances, and although I did not think of ethnic dances until I began Mexican folkloric, ballet was the first dance to take me out of my fear. Unknowingly,  ballet had helped me make my first step towards learning ethnic dances.

I asked my mom to enroll me into ballet classes, after three years of ballet and countless of performances I had taken initiative into my own hands and accomplished defeating my one enemy: fear. When I was younger I had fear of everything: of people, family, places and feelings. But I knew that fear of people and the public would not help me and only destroy my dreams. So after taking three years of ballet, I noticed I had straightened up, I talked more, I volunteered more, and my shoulders were no longer up to my ears. I had defeated fear and accomplished the sense of what confidence would bring me.

After ballet, I was eager to begin more dances. So, my mother and I began a group, a Mexican folkloric group in my town. My grandmother had taught my mother to dance Mexican folkloric when she was my age and the fact that my mother was now teaching me I felt a sense of connection to my mother’s past and to where I was from. I was in awe of everything that belonged to Mexican folkloric. The dresses were full of color, and each time I put it away after a performance I would be reminded of how all the colors had twirled in my hands as I moved. I would imagine that somewhere else, someone from Mexico where I am from, was dancing with the same colors I had danced with and it made feel connected to my past. I loved the movements, each movement was flirty as they traditionally should be, and it was like acting out, acting as a character from history dances. Although I hardly visit Mexico, every time I would step onto the stage, as the music would begin and the movements began to descend from my body I would feel as I had been taken to my roots. After folkloric dance, I became fascinated with dance and where each dance came from.

Each time I would see a different ethnic dance I would try to imagine where it came from, who had danced it and why. It was as if watching or dancing ethnic dances were a ticket to a new place. I could travel very easily to different places by paying attention to what the dances were trying to express. I learned more about ethnic dances when I saw my mother practicing something I had never seen before. I watched the steps, they were distinctive, her hands were moving in a dramatic form and her face expressions seemed to match each movement. The more I watched, the more of the message I got, each movement was confident it was like speaking to me stating, “Look at me, I am here.” I was in awe of the dance. A few days later my mother asked me to accompany her to a dance performance she was going to have. I asked her what she would be dancing, and she said it was called flamenco and at the performance I saw the same movements and I became more interested.

I was enrolled into a flamenco class in the fall semester of 2013. Each Saturday I attend class and I get to dance flamenco. Not only am I practicing the dance, but I have been taught what flamenco stands for, and where it comes from. Learning flamenco’s motive and historical background I have come to the realization that the history is important to know when I dance because the history is being portrayed in my every movement. When I practice flamenco, I must not only get the moves to a precise way but I must be the storyteller of the dance, and of all the people that are and have danced this dance before. Flamenco has given me the opportunity to travel elsewhere, even if in reality I am just in a dance studio. Flamenco has the power to do so because it is an ethnic dance, each step reflects a part of where it comes form. I am profoundly lucky to have discovered flamenco because now I am aware of more dances I can practice, and each dance will take me to its roots and tell me a story of its past.

With all my experiences I have gained from my dance past, I am now very eager to continue dancing. I want to dance different ethnic dances, I want to learn more of each dance and in this way I believe that ethnic dances will help me travel all around. I will continue to study ethnic dances. I only have one semester left of high school and next fall when I am attending a university, I will enroll in dance classes. Because of what I have gained from learning the movements and history of the dance, I will feel connected to the days I danced with my mother, and the days I spent dancing as a child.