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Art and Artists: All there is

For freshman Andrew Balderrama, dancing is living

 by Kristi Eaton  published on Thursday, March 24, 2005

Modern Dance freshman Andrew Balderrama performs an impromptu dance for SPM.  Balderrama will be doing a Bulvarian folk dance for an informal concert in the physical science building on May 2.
/issues/arts/692523
Danielle Peterson / STATE PRESS MAGAZINE
Modern Dance freshman Andrew Balderrama performs an impromptu dance for SPM. Balderrama will be doing a Bulvarian folk dance for an informal concert in the physical science building on May 2.
 

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Class without textbooks, tests or essays.

It sounds too good to be true, but for modern dance freshman Andrew Balderrama, that scenario is a reality. Unlike most students, his body is his most important tool in obtaining a college degree.

Balderrama will take to the stage for an informal concert in the physical science building on May 2. The concert is modern and a chance for dancers who might not otherwise be able to showcase their talent. Balderrama will be doing a Bulvarian folk dance.

Normally a fast talker in everyday conversation, Balderrama slows down as he speaks about his passion for dancing.

When he was 12, the pop music craze was near its peak. Leading the way was the trifecta of bubblegum: The Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync and Britney Spears. Like the millions of other adolescents at the time, Balderrama was enthralled with the dancing that he saw every day on MTV. He began recording the music videos and learning the dance moves.

Around this time, he also discovered that he could enroll in dance for required credit at school.

"I found that dancing was the only class that was interesting that I could take as an elective, so I just took it" he says as he fiddles with his Tsunami Relief One World Wristband.

He is wearing baggy pants and maroon T-shirt, and his head full of dark curls fits snugly under one of the many bandanas he often wears.

During the first few months of college, Balderrama realized that dance was something that came natural to him and began taking multiple classes, including beginning ballet, beginning hip-hop and jazz.

Now he is taking class three days a week, but has found that self-motivation is very important in dance.

"You have to stretch and practice on your own," he says. "When I go home on breaks [to California], I even try to take some classes."

But Balderrama doesn't believe that practice is all it takes in dance. He considers himself a "late bloomer," someone who didn't discover his talent until he was older.

"Late bloomers are actually better than those who have been doing it for a long time, because you can try to learn technique and skill, but it ultimately comes from inside of you," he says.

The passion that he feels for dance is something that Balderrama hopes to share with children. With his specialization in education, he hopes he can teach at a high school and impact students as he was once impacted.

"I noticed that students learned a lot from my former [dance] teacher at my high school," he says. "And when I taught classes at my old high school, I realized how much fun the students were having and how much they enjoyed taking the classes."

For now, though, Balderrama tries to fit in as much dance as possible. That includes joining outside organizations. Right now, he is a member of the Hip Hop Coalition, the campus club that provides entertainment at various events at ASU as well as other non-profit events.

In the future, he hopes to join Dancing Devils, another ASU club that performs for non-profit organizations. Unlike the Hip Hop Coalition, the Dancing Devils is more jazz based.

Balderrama says dance is a form of expression. Improv, where movement is not choreographed, is the style of dance through which he feels he can best express himself.

"If I feel agitated or excited about something, my movements are a lot faster," he says. "But if I'm feeling down, then my movements are usually slower."

To outsiders, it might seem as if Balderrama is consumed with dance, but that is just the way he wants it.

"I know I have nothing else to fall back on," he says. "Dancing is all there is."

Reach the reporter at kristi.eaton@asu.edu.



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