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TCU 360

The Skiff Orientation Edition: Welcome, Class of 28!
The Skiff Orientation Edition: Welcome, Class of '28!
By Georgie London, Staff Writer
Published May 13, 2024
Advice from your fellow Frogs, explore Fort Worth, pizza reviews and more. 

Moving the Field: Testimonio y platica with Michelle Manzanales

Miroslava Lem Quinonez
Michelle Manzanales captivates the audience delivering an engaging discussion. (Miroslava Lem Quinonez/Staff Photographer)

Through testimonio y platica—testimony and talk—Wednesday in the studio theatre of the Erma Lowe Hall, a Mexican-American dance educator and choreographer shared her work and discussed identity and culture during the last event of a three-day program. 

Michelle Manzanales, co-founder of the Latinx Dance Educators Alliance and director of Ballet Hispanico’s School of Dance was a Green Honors Chair guest of the dance department.

The Cecil H. and Ida Green Honors Chair brings “distinguished visitors to campus to enhance, inspire and enrich faculty and students with presentations and activities.”

Negra Presuntuosa by Susana Baca played in the background and was playing as attendees took their seats. Alumni and students from different departments—business, education, fine arts, etc.—took a seat and introduced themselves to each other as the first activity Manzanales requested.

Manzanales said she was three years old when she followed her sister to dance and she choreographed her first piece to “El Raton Vaquero,” a Mexican children’s song, which she excitedly showed it to her teacher after class. 

Manzanales attended the University of Houston where she met the mentors who pushed her to take the trajectory of becoming a choreographer. 

Despite her love of dance she pursued a business degree.

“I thought I had to get a degree that will support my family,” she said.

Manzanales invited the audience to think about the different layers one possess through their identity and to share their reflections about their personal reason for being at the event.

Kaitlyn Hernandez, a sophomore ballet major, said she was at the event “to see someone who has succeeded in the field and that looks like me.”

While offering a summer course in Houston, Manzanales said she had a moment of realization when she got into the ballet class and only found Latinos.

“A room full of dancers that looked like me,” she said.

She said she felt inspired and reflected how it was the first time she experienced that and she was in her 40s. 

Now, Manzanales shares her experiences through her choreographies with her love for contemporary dance. 

One of her pieces that premiered in 2017, “Con Brazos Abiertos,” used iconic Mexican symbols, representing Manzanales exploring and embracing her experience as a Mexican-American growing up in Texas. 

The shame of not having perfect Spanish and living in between two cultures are some of the elements Manzales said she portrayed in her piece. 

Founded in 2021, Latinx Dance Educators Alliance, is a movement that fights the “exclusionary practices prevalent in dance pedagogy.” It is the educator’s responsibility to have space for everybody, Manzanales said.

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