Dancing toward a dream: Juan Aldape's goal is to start his own company after a year of moving through Europe

Published: Saturday, Aug. 13 2011 3:00 p.m. MDT

He applied in December for the Erasmus Mundus educational program and after demonstrating his academic work and his artistic talent, with written references and letters of recommendation, he was accepted by the international commission.

A few months later, in May, he was notified that in addition to his free education, he was going to receive a full scholarship that would cover his living expenses, too.

For 18 months, he will travel with his wife, Melissa, for instruction at universities around England, Finland and Serbia.

Hip-hop and ballet

Among being the first university graduate in his family, he will become the first Aldape to travel to Europe, "the old continent."

He will receive a master's with a specialization in international performance research, which will allow him to continue working as a performer, choreographer, dance teacher and researcher with an international vision.

"I want to do everything, but creating my own dance company and connecting my work with the community will be my priority," he said.

In the last five years, Juan has traveled constantly to perform in New York City, working with his partner, Molly Heller, with whom he has designed a mixture of ballet and hip-hop, an interesting combination of smooth and linear movements with bits of break dancing.

"When I'm moving, I like having control of my mind and my body. I hate to lose my mind. I like to make decisions when I move and be aware of the direction I take," he said, explaining what happens when your body is your instrument to work.

Studying different types of dance and adding the practice of disciplines such as yoga and Pilates have been very helpful in his professional development that has led to a scholarship provided for only seven other students from around the world.

Aldape believes that his parents and siblings provided him with the confidence to achieve his dreams and helped him cope with the economic and social pressures on his way to achieve his goals.

"Being the oldest brother in the house, I thought I should leave college and help my parents with the household expenses. I think many Latino men go through the same situation. You get to thinking you're being selfish because you see that they are making sacrifices for you to receive an education," he said.

But as he progressed with his education, Aldape knew that it wouldn't be too far in the future when he could reward his family and give back.

Aldape will leave for Europe in September, but his dreams will remain in the Salt Lake Valley, where he promises to return to make them reality.

email: tnavarro@desnews.com

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