On a Friday night in the MC, the lights were low, and the sweet tones of a bachata remix of Ed Sheeran’s “Photograph” seemed to whisk her away. The steps of the Mexican bachata were familiar and executed with ease. They seemed to give a sense of place and belonging in a town so far removed from her home.
Ana Garcia-Gomez, a senior studying psychology, was born in Veracruz, Mexico. Since moving to the United States as a child, Garcia has kept herself rooted in her Mexican culture and heritage through the art of dance.
“In Veracruz, we have this thing called marimba. They play it outside on the street, and my dad would always dance with me there,” said Garcia.
These impromptu street dances were not the only place Garcia learned to dance. She said her brother used to turn music on and dance with her. This love of dance carried Garcia through hard times in her life. Garcia admits that if whenever a Bachata song comes on, she will dance to it.
Growing up, Garcia learned the dance styles of salsa and cumbia, which come from her homeland. As she has experienced more, she has discovered a fond connection to the style of bachata. This style was born in the Dominican Republic.
“Once I was introduced to it, I just connected with the music a lot,” Garcia said.
“Salsa is very fun and there are lots of turns, but bachata is a lot of body rolls and isolations. I like feeling in control of my body.”
Learning this style of dance inspired Garcia to become a dance instructor at Latin dancing on campus. Every week, instructors meet together to learn various styles of dance. Each of the instructors share their style of dance with the other instructors.
“I am actually learning how to dance — where to place your feet or your hands,” Garcia said. “People think that dancing is just moving, but really, the art of dancing is knowing how your body looks and how to place yourself to look a certain way.”
Since starting her job, Garcia has used dance as a way to connect with people and to express herself.
“I can have many dance partners but not feel the same way dancing with each,” Garcia said. “The connection I make with a person is my favorite part. You just put your emotions out there. No matter how you are feeling, you can express it on the dance floor.”