Anjelica is a passionate dancer and choreographer who joined the Art Starts team as an instructor in 2016. She is also the co-artistic Director of Ritmo Flamenco, an actress, the face of ZoomerMedia’s fitness channel, and comedian! Her choreographies have been featured in the Pan-Am Games, FIFA World Cup, and Toronto Fashion Week. Anjelica has also taught at the Quinte Ballet School, Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre, and the National Ballet School of Canada.
Her unique ability to blend and teach different dance forms was an instant hit with the busy moms and caregivers from our Program Without Walls Program. Art is Anjelica’s livelihood and she’s witnessed the profound affect it’s had on her participants beyond the classroom. The positivity and confidence generated in her classes echo throughout the day-to-day lives of each of her students.
Art Starts is celebrating 30 years in October 2022 and as a way to commemorate our past and future, we’re spotlighting our top 30 supporters. From artists to community members, these features will look at their meaningful contributions to our organization and visions for the future.
What was your first experience with Art Starts?
In 2016 I got a call from Art Starts to come and teach my special brand of fusion dance and exercise that was developed from years of studying and performing abroad, and because of my experiences in fusing different dance forms and working with students of all ages and abilities. I came in thinking it would be a temporary gig, but quickly realized that it would be one of the most unique and rewarding teaching experiences I’d ever have. The students became my muses; we’d feed off of each other’s energy and moods, and dance it out accordingly. When newer students would come in, they’d be a bit shy, but by their 4th or 5th week, they’d be there, raring to go with a coin belt or a brightly coloured aerobics headband.
How did this shape your perception of art and its impact on community?
As a performer, when I finish a show, it’s hours of rehearsal and preparation that culminates in a performance. The audiences are happy, and I’ve contributed to creating memories that last a lifetime. When it comes to the PWW program, it’s taught me that learning dance and movement create a sense of accomplishment and a boost of positive energy that carries on throughout the week. It feels great to perform, but it feels even better to pass on information and passion to students who are so excited to learn and participate.
Tell me about your favourite memory, program or experience with Art Starts?
I have so many favourite memories and experiences with Art Starts. When I was teaching in-person, I’d love seeing the progress the ladies would make. Seeing them develop a strong sense of different cultural rhythms, getting physically stronger and more confident. Sometimes the kids would wander over and start trying to mimic the moves.
In 2020, we had to get a bit more creative with how we could conduct classes. We moved our sessions to the park, and dancing in the grass under the sun was a very fun way to experience the class.
Tell me about a time that art made a difference in your life?
Art is my life. My parents and I have a touring dance and music ensemble called Ritmo Flamenco, and we are music and dance teachers. We’ve made art our livelihood. I’m involved in so many different avenues of creation, and I’m constantly surrounded by people who share similar interests. If it weren’t for dance, choreography, acting and comedy, I would be completely lost.
Sometimes when art is your life and work, it can be challenging. Sometimes it’s hard to be creative and inspired, but typically those moments are brief and something beautiful can be made when you least expect it.
What do you love most about the programs you’ve taught?
What I love most about the programs I’ve taught is seeing them grow and evolve. The ladies that take part in the program tell their friends, and then they tell their friends, and on and on it goes. The group consists of an ever-expanding mix of unique connections. This is the one program in my life that I’ve taught where I can share my passion for dance and fitness, but it’s laid back and non-competitive. In all my years of teaching, I’ve learned that people want to feel progress while having fun, and I’m constantly impressed by the consistency and dedication of my students in the program.
How have you seen Art Starts evolve?
Art Starts consistently takes risks to serve the community and is fiercely dedicated to keeping the programs fresh and informative. Art Starts has also created such a phenomenal hybrid model to deal with the challenges that we currently face.
How do you envision the future of Art Starts?
A lot of my students are busy moms and care-givers with young kids. I like capturing that girls-night kind of vibe, where they feel like they’re having a night out, while reaching their postpartum fitness goals.
How do you hope to make a difference in the world?
I take enjoyment in watching the students get physically stronger and more confident, developing rhythm and coordination. They tell me how the classes positively affect their personal relationships. This is when it clicked in for me that the benefits of what I do are more evident outside the studio, and that the positivity generated in these classes echoes throughout the day-to-day lives of each of the students.
Anjelica is certainly one to watch! You can see what she’s up to on Instagram @scanooch.