I have always been a mover.
As a two-year-old I would crawl down from my crib, refusing to be confined by the bars of my wooden prison. My parents would wake to find me climbing on top of them, insisting that we begin playing at 6 a.m.
By the time I reached three, my parents decided to channel my energy into dance. They enrolled me in the only studio in our county that would take me before I turned four. I started in a standard, little-girl ballet-tap combination class, during which we learned a routine to “Baby Bumblebee” to perform at the studio’s annual recital. My debut performance was lackluster, to say the least, mostly consisting of me pulling at my costume and scratching my tights in the corner.
Despite my inauspicious beginnings, at age eight I took my first hip hop class and began to show promise as a dancer. Hip hop clicked for me in a way that no other style had. As I popped and locked to the song “Car Wash” at that year’s recital, I finally started to shine.
I dabbled in numerous sports throughout my childhood — basketball, soccer, baseball, and track— but dance was the one that stuck. My newfound talent for hip hop inspired me to continue training in other styles. Now that I was in touch with my body and the way it could move, I excelled in jazz, ballet, and Latin dance. I felt more confident as a performer and as a person. I was always the first to sign up for talent shows and needed minimal encouragement from my friends to enter a dance battle at middle school dances.
In high school, I entered the world of elite competitive dance. My all-girls high school, Academy of the Holy Angels (AHA), competed in pom and hip hop at the Universal Dance Association National Dance Team Championship. Our training ranged from ballet class to improve our technique, to cross-fit workouts for strength and endurance. Once we learned our Nationals choreography, we drilled it incessantly. If one finger was out of place, we had to take it from the top. We pushed our bodies to their absolute limits and strove for perfection every day. My senior year, our hard work paid off when we received third place in hip hop at Nationals, the highest placement in our team’s history up to that point.
My time on the AHA dance team was mentally and physically grueling, but it was also one of my most rewarding experiences in sports. I learned the power of women working together to accomplish a common goal. Because I went to an all-girls school, I was constantly surrounded by powerful women achieving impressive feats in athletics. Behind every school record and every game won were strong female athletes. This environment of women supporting each other to reach new physical and intellectual heights was a formative part of my adolescent experience.
When I entered Harvard as a freshman in the fall of 2014, I sought a community similar to that of my high school dance team. I joined the Crimson Dance Team (CDT), Expressions Dance Company, and Eleganza Show. My hours of dance rehearsal quickly amounted to a nearly full-time job, but I would not have had it any other way. Not only was dance a great way to stay active in between the demanding classes of my chemistry major, but it was also an invaluable source of community on campus. It served as a creative outlet through which I developed my talents as a dancer and choreographer as well as formed lifelong relationships with some incredible people.
I am looking forward to sharing my love of being active and forming strong female connections through sports with the wonderful Chicas Dinámicas. The program has already had a huge impact on so many girls’ lives by teaching the importance of a healthy, active lifestyle as well as imparting foundational life skills that girls carry with them into their adult lives. I feel honored to be able to carry on this legacy and am excited for the year to come!