July 12th, 2024

Dancer directs passion towards teaching

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on July 11, 2024.

Submitted photo - Dayana Pedroza and her dancing partner Emil Cipion teach a class during Latin Fest last weekend at Galt Gardens.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

A love for dancing has translated into a love for teaching for a local resident who re-discovered her passion and herself in the process.

Dayana Pedroza, a dancing instructor who grew up in the Colombian dancing scene thanks to her father and who has been calling Lethbridge home for the last few years, has discovered her love for teaching Salsa dancing to the elder population, something she has not done before arriving to the city.

With an engineering background in the Food Sciences area, Pedroza slowly departed from the dancing scene while living in Colombia, but after moving to Lethbridge she re-discovered her passion for dancing and decided to go back to it.

Pedroza told the Herald in a recent interview that thanks to some local connections and multiple events that took place around the city like Canada Day, Latin Fest, Latin American Street Party and various smaller encounters at the Southern Alberta Ethnic Association, she was able to meet people that eventually gave her the opportunity to teach at a seniors’ residence, where she discovered how much she enjoyed it.

“Even though it is only once a month at the moment, I have realized how much I love teaching the elderly. Seeing the smiles on their faces once the music starts is absolutely priceless,” said Pedroza.

In the past she has taught different age groups, but only now had the opportunity to take part in teaching elderly at a seniors’ residence and she said the experience is something she hopes to be able to expand on.

During one of the events in the downtown core recently, while I was teaching a short class, one person came up to me and said he worked at another seniors’ home and he was hoping I would come by and teach there. I was so excited about it, I obviously said yes,” said Pedroza.

She said she does not have a dance studio yet, but thanks to a fellow Colombian she has a place to teach on Monday nights.

“Antojitos in downtown is where I have been teaching. I offered some classes at Casa but that ended recently. Since I am new, I am trying to teach wherever I can and the community has been so helpful. I also had the opportunity to offer some classes at the multicultural centre,” said Pedroza.

She said teaching Salsa dancing to the Lethbridge community has been an eye-opener. She said even though her lessons were well received in Colombia, people there are surrounded by the music and the culture, is something that is part of their everyday life and therefore not a novelty like it is for those who call Lethbridge home.

It is so different to see people react to my music, my culture, my teachings. It feels like they are discovering some hidden gem and that makes this so much more special,” said Pedroza.

She added that being able to share her culture and music with the elderly has brought another level of satisfaction to her.

They are at an age that they have seen and experienced so much, so for them to show interest in what I do and what I have to offer makes me appreciate it even more,” said Pedroza.

She said for some seniors her lessons have brought an opportunity not only to socialize, but to exercise while having fun and that has helped them energize them.

It is so important for them to move, to exercise at their age and to do it while dancing and having fun makes it easier for them. Sometimes they don’t even realize how much cardio they are doing because they are having so much fun,” said Pedroza.

Another group she will be teaching to and who she believes will also benefit greatly from the movement and socializing is new mothers, where new mothers will have the opportunity to dance with their babies.

I was approached by someone who used to offer this type of classes before but who lost their instructor and I realized how important it is to offer that again, this time by dancing my music so I said yes to that as well, it is in the process, but it is something I am hoping it takes off pretty quick,” said Pedroza.

She said new mothers would benefit from dancing classes by not only having a place to go with their babies, meeting other new mothers, being in a fun and upbeat environment, but also from the exercising and bonding that this creates with their babies.

This is another reason why I am hoping to get a studio soon, so I can offer a place where moms can be comfortable with their babies while learning to dance and having fun,” said Pedroza.

She said anyone can benefit from dancing and she hopes she is able to continue to help the Lethbridge community discover the benefits of it.

Latin Soul is the name of my dancing academy, because I teach from my soul and those who would like to learn can reach me on social media or by email at latinsoulstudio16@gmail.com,” said Pedroza.

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