Two years ago, I was a mom and a journalist with a dancer hiding inside. Today, I’m not hiding.
My dance story starts out like most. My mom took me to a ballet class at age three. I wore a pink leotard and ballet slippers. I did one lesson and never returned. Instead, I was enrolled in Ballet Folklorico; Mexican folk dancing. Each state in Mexico is represented by a song and dance with lavish costumes. We’re talking flowing skirts, ruffled blouses, ribbons tied in your well-braided hair (or hair extensions) and of course - awesome laced up boots with a tap in the heel.
A lot of South Texas girls grow up doing Ballet Folklorico. It’s our version of Irish dancing. In fact, I performed on a TV show right after Selena. Talk about crazy. But when I was eight or nine years old, I gave it all up. I decided to play soccer and other sports instead. Eventually – I joined the marching band as a drummer.
I grew up to be a TV news producer, and one day while working in a Birmingham newsroom, so homesick I could cry, the HR manager told me I should check out a dance program at her gym. She said, “I think you’ll really like it.”
She was right. Those were my people. That program, Dance Trance, changed my life. It not only helped me rehab a torn ACL from a soccer injury, it helped me stay in shape, meet new friends and most importantly - learn to dance again.
I’m Latin. Dancing is part of my culture. I always danced, but I didn’t know what a ‘ball change’ was or an ‘8-count’. Dance Trance changed all that. It was a legit dance class. It teaches dance terms mixed in with a whole lot of fitness. It requires memorization of choreography and exposure to several musical genres. If you attend class often enough, you get better and better at basics like turns, pivots, body rolls, etc. – not to mention, learning choreo on the fly.
I founded the program in two cities: Sarasota, FL and here in Richmond, VA. Dance Trance really is the reason I now own TURN Cardio Jam Studio in Scott’s Addition. I just needed a place for my dance program and it turned into a full business that transcends fitness and dance.
TURN was just a side gig, but when I decided to do it full time, I knew I didn’t WANT to half-ass it. Really, I knew that I COULD NOT half-ass it. I wanted to be the best I could be. So, in the last couple of years I have really tried to study from as many dancers as possible. People like Mandy Helmlinger of Richmond Urban Dance have really helped me grow and embrace my own style, which I’ll admit – still needs work, but I love it. Dance brings me so much joy, comfort and happiness. It is my outlet, my canvas and I am humbled when people assume I danced my whole life or studied it in college.
I’m in my mid 40’s, a mom to three boys, and I’m dancing better than I ever thought possible. I’m also growing in the gift of teaching dance. It proves that anyone can do anything they put their mind to. It really doesn’t matter what it is. If you have a passion for something, do it. Do it big. Go all in. Don’t hesitate. Love it hard. That’s the only way to find the abundance and reward in it. I believe I’m living proof of that.