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Music: A universal language helping local dancers keep their Hispanic roots alive

Garcia Dance Studio has taught flamenco for 25 years in Lompoc
Posted at 6:52 PM, Sep 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-11 20:24:11-05

Dance is dramatic, passionate, and emotional.

“I can just be myself and through the dance, I can give a story and just make people happy,” said Alina Villegas, Garcia Dance Studio’s Dancer of the Year.

Music is a universal language that speaks to the soul.

“Our studio mostly focuses on flamenco. It’s a dance originated in Spain and we have six to 10 classes with ages ranging from three to 30,” said Alena Velasco, Garcia Dance Studio instructor.

Ver esta noticia en español:

Música: un idioma universal ayuda bailarines mantener sus raíces latinas

Garcia Dance Studio is a Latina-owned and operated business celebrating its 25th year in Lompoc.

“Laura Garcia started her studio in 1997 on Vandenberg Space Force Base in her garage, actually. [She] started with a few students that lived there,” Velasco explained.

The studio now offers classes to 150 students.

It is a place where Velasco went from student to instructor.

Villegas started her journey at three years old and has now become the studio’s Dancer of the Year. She gets to lead performances and inspire younger dancers.

“Dance helps me connect because I get to see my Spanish roots and go back because music is in Spanish for flamenco,” Villegas said.

New on the dance scene in Santa Maria, but already making a difference, is Ballet Folklórico Imperial.

“We got inquiry from agricultural workers who are interested in dancing folklórico with us and that’s a first. That’s a demographic we have never captured before,” said Luis López, Ballet Folklórico Imperial’s Director.

This dance troupe started this year.

“We have it in our high schools, we have it in our college, but we don’t have an avenue for adults,” López said.

Ballet Folklórico Imperial is highlighting Mexico’s rich culture given that the country has 32 states and each one has its own dance style and music.

“They're not just learning dances to learn dances, dancers are learning the history behind those dances, so it’s really like a live textbook when you are dancing with us,” López explained.

The group, which now has about 31 dancers, performs a traditional dance style called Sonora Bronco.

“It’s from a northern state in Mexico and it’s very cowboy. You’ll see the men wear a black vest and wear the sombrero, and the ladies wear a colonial white blouse and a skirt,” López said. “It mimics a bronco horse, so it has a lot of rapid turns, a lot of hip movements, […] but it’s only one of hundreds of dances Mexico has to offer.”

Regardless of the genre or style, music is all about sharing.

“It has made me closer to my heritage and it brought me to many others who share our love for folk,” said Alexis Martinez, Ballet Folklórico Imperial dancer.

Both dance groups have shared their music and dance with the community. Garcia Dance Studio has performed at Disney parades and local events such as Old Spanish Days Fiesta.

Ballet Folklórico Imperial had their first show on Sept. 9 and Sept. 10 at Santa Maria High School.

If you’re interested in learning these styles of dance, you can reach out to Garcia Dance Studio in Lompoc at (805) 717-9273.

Ballet Folklórico Imperial is preparing for lessons at Klein Dance Arts in Santa Maria. You can reach them at (805) 268-2530.