Eat, breathe, plie: A dancer’s modern life.

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Under King Louis XIV, ballet was performed not by professionals but by the men and women of the royal court. Here at Santa Ana College we can experience our own royalty gliding across the stage, evoking emotions in us with their rhythmic movement.

Gabriel Mata excels at all genres of dance, however his favorite is not ballet, but modern.

“It is unusual to get the combination of physical talent, creative and artistic vision and the desire to excel and perfect oneself as a dancer,” Dance Department Chair Eve Kikawa said. “Gabe has all three.”

As a sophomore in high school, Mata’s friend first encouraged him to give dancing a shot. After trying out to no avail, Mata found motivation in opinions of those who doubted him.

“They said I couldn’t dance, I had no rhythm, and I wasn’t coordinated. I wanted to prove them wrong,” Mata said.

At 20 years old, Mata’s body has adapted to the strenuous movements dancers perform, strengthening his muscles and improving his stamina.

“Dancing is very hard on the body. Arm strength, leg strength, every muscle in the body has to be strong,” Mata said. “We are not weak. It takes endurance, just like football or any other sport.”

Last spring Mata was part of a team of dancers that auditioned at Cal. State Long Beach for a chance to dance in the Gala by the American College Dance Festival Association. The team performed a modern piece and were called back.

Currently in his last year at SAC, Mata hopes to continue his education and perfect his talent at San Jose State University. “They are a little bit more artsy than here,” Mata said.

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Mata wants to showcase his talent and perform for audiences everywhere. Connecting with a dance company, like highly esteemed Shen Wei Dance Arts in New York is his dream.

Over the weekend Mata and his fellow dancers appeared in the SAC dance recital Rise/Fall.

As he continues to shine, Mata encourages all dancers to continue perfecting their craft.

“If you love to dance then dance. Balls to the wall. Nothing will stop you. Just stay motivated.”


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