The Dance for All Bodies organization has recently conducted interviews with its instructors Alicia Langlais, Antoine Hunter, Janpi Star, Clara Rodriguez, and Stephanie Bastos. Each instructor brings a unique perspective and experience to the world of integrated dance. During this 5 week series, the Dance for All Bodies blog will feature one instructor interview on Saturdays.
Janpi Star was born and raised in Puerto Rico. They got involved with art for the first time through the music at the Fine Art School Anita Toro Hernández as a 12-year-old playing the clarinet. In 2012 Janpi began their Bachelor Degree in Drama at the University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras and had the opportunity to work with Viveca Vazquez, Carola Garcia and Petra Bravo. Janpi began to dance on January 2013 with Juan Maria Seller in the School For the Performing Arts at Guaynabo Puerto Rico.
They then took workshops in writing, movement, acting and semiotics in Ecuador with the group Malayerba. Janpi has also done workshops with the Candoco Dance Company and went to their audition. They worked with the theater group "Jóvenes del 98" directed by Maritza Perez and trained dance in The School for the Performing Arts directed by Waldo Gonzalez. Janpi has worked with choreographers including Robert Dekkers, Arthur Pita and Jennifer Archibald as well as Petra Bravo with "instalaciones Coreograficas , la casitas de Santurce'' in The Fine Arts Center of Puerto Rico. Janpi’s most recent solo work of choreography was commissioned for the inaugural Queering Dance Festival, FROLIC.
During an interview with Dance for All Bodies, in their own words, Janpi Star describes their background with dance and the community that can be built amongst dancers and individuals with disabilities.
“My name is Janpi Star and I'm from the most beautiful island in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico. And right now I’m located in Oakland, California. For Dance for All Bodies, I’m teaching a salsa class. You are going to have a lot of high-energy. You’re going to get an approach of dance that is more technical, and also to have more freedom in the class to improvise and find your own movement in yourself.
I invite you to try it and to invite all your family and friends because we’re going to have a great time. Maybe you want to try it just once, it’s going to be fine, I’m pretty sure you will come back for more.
My classes are not just only inclusive for people with disabilities, also for people without disabilities. I try to create classes that invite everybody, all kinds of bodies, all kinds of abilities. Even though society considers me to be a person with a disability, I don’t feel like I am disabled or not able to do anything.
I started dancing when I was in Puerto Rico in 2012. I was looking to find knowledge for myself, so I started taking classes on contemporary dance. What I enjoy most about dancing is the freedom that dance gives me every time that I'm dancing and moving. Also I love that dancing is giving me the opportunity to connect with people from around the world. It gives you so much strength and possibilities in this world.
What I enjoy most is connecting people and being able to reach so many people right now through virtual mediums like the computer. I feel like Dance for All Bodies gave me that opportunity to keep connecting with the people, keep growing in the community with people with and without disabilities, and keep integrating the world of dance. We are not just breaking a stigma that people with disabilities can't dance. I think we are going further. I think we are doing, ‘we can dance’, and we can do it in virtual spaces and nothing is going to stop us.
I think we accomplished our mission. We are bringing everyone together in the same space sharing dance, sharing the same energy, and the same information. No one is worried about ‘oh I can’t do this’ or ‘that cannot work’ or ‘I can walk or I cannot walk’ or ‘I can move one hand or I cannot’. No one is worried about that. We are sharing this space, moving together, sharing energy, and I think that’s the most important thing right now, to just keep connecting ourselves as humans even though we are in this virtual medium.”
Thank you Janpi Star for teaching with Dance for All Bodies and for building a strong community, even in the online presence. We appreciate your positive energy, inclusiveness, and infectious smile. We love Salsa Sundays!