Elementary students treated to New York City ballet - Brownsville Herald: Local News

Elementary students treated to New York City ballet

By GARY LONG Staff Writer | Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2019 12:52 am

Elementary school students in Los Fresnos got a glimpse of life in New York City on Monday and at the same time celebrated their Mexican-American culture when they previewed the Ballet Nepantla production of “Valentina.”

Ballet Nepantla is a New York City dance company co-founded by Edinburg native Andrea Guajardo that fuses classical ballet, contemporary dance and Mexican folkloric dance in a way that speaks to the in between nature of life in the U.S. Mexico borderlands.

“Valentina” had its debut Sunday night at the Texas Southmost College Arts Center. It was performed again Monday night in Los Fresnos High School auditorium. “Valentina” is a collection of stories about the strength and resilience of women during revolutionary Mexico.

The Monday afternoon performance for elementary students encompassed one act of the two-act show. A question and answer session followed. Guajardo and cast members Anthony Bocconi, Maircarmen B. Rodriguez and Piper Dye answered questions.

A big take-away was to work hard and never give up. Another, when it comes to creative endeavors like dance, “don’t let your parents let you quit.”

Responding to a question, Guajardo said she had known since she was about 6 that she really, really wanted to pursue a career in dance. She moved to New York City at 17 to study at the Fordham University Ailey School of Dance, receiving a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in 2013.

She said she often meets people who say they were in dance when they were younger and now regret giving it up.

“Never give up,” she said later. “When it gets hard, keep working harder. As a professional you have to get better. … I’ve been injured, had two knee surgeries” but you have to practice and really work hard and before you know it you’re on the other side of it.

Bocconi, who gave a dance workshop at LFHS earlier in the day, added that one needs to be inspired and work until “you’re out of your comfort zone.”

Another question involved going far away to study. Guajardo and Rodriguez and Dye, who are from Southern California, said it’s important to prepare your parents as much as yourself for the move.

Guajardo’s father Francisco, with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and managing the group’s appearance in the Valley, said the point is to pursue your dreams. “There’s nothing that’s not doable,” he said.

glong@brownsvilleherald.com