By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
An elementary school field trip to watch a touring dance company helped Cheryl Delostrinos find her passion in life. “I was blown away,” explained Delostrinos of watching modern dance for the first time. As an 8-year-old, she was mesmerized and wanted to become a dancer.
Soon after her field trip, she begged her mother to take dance lessons. She has not stopped since.
Delostrinos, a 24-year-old, second generation Filipina American, is embarking on a career path not traveled by many Filipino Americans. She has put together a commissioned work of modern dance and is featured in Relay Dance Collective’s upcoming performance “RDC3” at the Velocity Dance Center on Capitol Hill Easter Weekend.
The dance event the class attended was a free matinee put on by the UW World Series featuring the infamous Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. It was an outreach program to invite public schools to watch. The dance company was predominantly people of color. “They were awesome,” recalled Delostrinos.
The youngest of five girls, dance was not thought of as a career, especially coming from a lower middle class upbringing as Delostrinos describes her socioeconomic upbringing. Her sisters found careers as a doctor, a lawyer, in hospital administration and in the software industry.
While her parents maintain the hard-working, practical work ethic of many immigrants that come to this country that preach focusing on school and finding a stable career, they have come to support Delostrinos and her passion for dance.
Since asking her mother for dance lessons, she has learned a variety of dance including ballet, jazz, tap and modern dance. In high school at Garfield in Seattle she continued the tradition of her older sisters in performing in the “Bubblin Brown Sugar” dance competition where neighboring high schools performed in hip hop dance.
Delostrinos decided to major in Dance at the University of Washington. While she admits that she has a strong interest in science and that “pre-med is not out of the picture,” Delostrinos chose to focus her time at the UW in the Dance school.
“I realized that I had to give my full attention to one, so I chose to dance.” She added, “I knew I was making the right choice.”
The Dance major included taking classes in dance as well as rigorous courses in anatomy. Delostrinos informed that the Dance program “is focused on being anatomically correct” and thus it focuses on movement of the body as well as injury prevention. She also indicated one of the toughest courses in the program was a teaching methods course where she went into middle schools and taught.
After graduating from the UW with her Bachelor of Arts in Dance, Delostrinos found work teaching dance at the Seattle Academy of Arts & Sciences. She has traveled to various festivals across the country meeting other dancers and choreographers in forming connections within the dance community. She has also been commissioned to do choreography for different companies and schools. The ability to create her own work has been fulfilling and something she has aimed to do. She would like to present dance that involves people of color and also something that people of all different ages, color and backgrounds can enjoy.
Delostrinos has a group of artists, known as “Au Collective” which come together to choreograph and talk about ideas on projects. As a nod to her science background, “Au” is the symbol for gold on the periodic table of elements. Her collective is set to present a show in September of this year.
While modern dance is subjective in its interpretation, Delostrinos likes to stay true to her upbringing when creating. “I draw a lot on real life experiences because I really want people to watch it and feel something and relate to it.” Delostrinos also pulls inspiration from her Filipino roots as she recalls doing traditional Filipino dance such as the tinikling (a dance most known for its use of sticks) when she was younger. “I would say that I draw from my background as a Filipino American growing up in Seattle, my public school experience, being the only person of color in an all-white ballet school. I draw from my experience and what I’m experiencing now as an artist in Seattle.” (end)
For more information on Delostrinos’ performance April 3-5, please visit www.relaydance.org.
Jason Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.