Today we’d like to introduce you to Araceli Carrera.
Araceli, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
As a 4th grader once told me in my art and dance class, “Art is not just something you do, it’s something you are.”
I have had the opportunity to grow in many ways: to create and be inspired by art and dance throughout my life.
But to share my knowledge, love, and respect of these two art forms through my teaching continues to live as one of the most precious roles I hold in life.
I am a proud daughter of Mexican immigrants, the oldest of four, a dreamer at heart who loves speaking Spanish. A mother, but forever a student, inspired by the diversity and the beauty that lives in a smile. I love being brave but grew up extremely shy and quiet. It was art and teaching dance that made me aware of the courage that lived in me. Art strengthened my heart from an early age when life was always shifting, changing colors and creating textures that were both smooth and rough. Art allowed me to speak of the world I lived in, but art did not ask me to stand tall or to feel my essence and energy. I was unaware of the power my presence held until I discovered modern dance in my early 20’s and its kinesthetic language that I now honor so much.
I remember stepping into modern dance class uncertain thinking, “what is this?” I was uncomfortable and shy, and I had only just walked into the space. However, a beautiful teacher, Debbie Toth, began the lesson and her invitation to the dance space was warm and inclusive. It allowed me to embrace the moment con el corazon en la mano, with my heart on my sleeve. Dance welcomed me with open arms to experience its space, rhythm and diverse language and I fell passionately in love.
I graduated Cum Laude from Arizona State University in 2001 with a Bachelor in Fine Arts in Dance Education. I was the first in my family to graduate from college. It was at ASU that I discovered I wanted to become a teacher and advocate of dance. I learned that the academic world through art and dance seems less distant and ambiguous to many students. I have experienced, in more than a decade, students feeling empowered as they connected and explored academics through art and dance. Additionally, the opportunity to witness my students’ willingness to welcome and connect to their artist’s voice is equally as empowering.
I have had the privileged to teach many students since 2001, from kindergarten to twelfth grade, to college, emerging teachers and professional artists. In San Diego, I have taught through a variety of prestigious non-profit organizations, one in which I am currently a part of Arts for Learning San Diego. I have also been an artistic director, dancer, choreographer, education director, set designer, costume designer, and even a puppeteer. I had the opportunity to perform and teach internationally in both The Dominican Republic and Havana, Cuba as part of the 3-city dance tour with Eveoke Dance Theater’s 2011 dance production, Las Mariposas. In 2013 I founded IMPULSE, a San Diego based, multi-generational Dance Company providing dance performances that cultivate and celebrate art, dance and diversity.
I am honored to be able to continue investing in these roles, but through all these experiences, I will say I was born to be an art and dance teacher. I believe that teaching and continuing to be a student at heart allows me to build strong and thoughtful relationships within the process and product of art and dance. The rhythm and exchange of teaching and learning inspires trust, confidence, love, discovery, and courage, and I am forever grateful to share the experience these words actively and purposefully hold through art and dance, especially within our youth.
I often say, “La belleza de uno se decubre cuando se habla con la verdad, El arte es mi verdad.”
“Beauty within is discovered when one speaks the truth, Art is my truth.”
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do? Why? And what do you hope others will take away from your work?
Both, my art and dance reflect how I connect with inspiring people and how I grow and continue to evolve in this life. In art, I mostly create images of women and nature. I feel both are creators of life and hold their role powerfully through adversity with integrity and beauty. In dance, I love movement that tells stories and highlights humanity and diversity. As a choreographer, I have the opportunity to speak a language that reaches all ages and that allows all generations to see the power of learning from each other.
As an artist, I love exploring all mediums but pencil, pastels and watercolor make me tap into the soft and bold essence I like to create through my art. It’s so exciting to mix and discover how each medium creates a relationship with each other. The variety of work I create varies in scale from small detailed work in paper to canvas, fabric and set design. I have had the experience of creating live art on the dance stage and collaborations are a big part of my art process.
As a dancer, I love modern dance, but I am also trained in Afro Cuban, Latin, and Hip Hop. I love challenging myself as a dancer, and you can see the Influence of these styles reflected in my choreography. In 2013 I decided to create Impulse dance company, a multi-generational dance company. It was important for me to create a space that would cultivate the relationship between young and adult movers. I was able to produce three dance staged productions from 2013-2015, a touring dance show for schools titled I speak…dance! And teach classes as an independent artist. It was incredibly challenging to make all of this happen as a solo artist. But it was possible due to the infinite support of my familia, students, and community.
My hope is to continue creating art and dance that invites people to come together and ignite conversations that are inclusive. I always look forward to the exchange both art forms create because the experience of seeing art or dance stirs the most inner fibers of the soul.
Artists face many challenges, but what do you feel is the most pressing among them?
As an arts educator the challenges can be present in many forms. Having to reaffirm the credibility, value and importance of arts in school continues to be heart breaking. The presence of the arts in k-12 schools are scarce and sometimes non existent. One of the challenges lies within the administration school system. For example; a graduate with a fine arts bachelors degree can not have or teach their own classroom in any school grade k-12 without a teaching credential. But then the teaching credential is not inclusive of all art forms. There are only two included in credentials: art and music and while these two are absolutely important to teach, performing arts needs to be equally included but it doesn’t exist. The testing is also a big challenge that limits the presence of great fine arts teacher in the classroom. Tests don’t support the knowledge acquired through the fine arts. And while a Visual arts or Dance teacher can support the learning of geometry our expertise is not algebra, it is the arts. Don’t get me wrong artists’ can find a purposeful way to support the classroom teacher in math, literacy and science, but why test a fine arts teacher in algebra to teach dance in the classroom? A lot of times not having the teacher credential means no permanent continuous presence of art, dance, music and theatre in the school system. Students need the arts in the school as part as the academia not just sometimes but everyday as part of a students learning process. Arts in the school builds infinite moments of discovery and consistent growth, trust, courage, respect and understanding that doesn’t just stay in the classroom but is taken into the world.
Another challenge in the school system is the need to shift the idea that the arts are just entertainment and beauty. This mentality needs to shift because art creates and invites students to recognize their ability to communicate in a confident and articulate manner: visually, aurally and kinesthetically. Students learn through the arts to build confidence as they speak about personal choices taken to produce their art. As they build trust in their creativity to choreograph a dance that raises consciousness about an important subject, as they problem solve challenges and discuss arts diversity with respect. Independence and risk taking are big components in discovering and connecting to the arts. All of the above mentioned allows the student to feel confident, conscious and awakened to participate in dialogue that will show intellect, heart and soul. And it’s not just about having students become artists, it’s about students building an understanding and appreciation on the process of being an artist. It takes dedication, commitment, perseverance, patience, courage and integrity to develop a relationship with art, all of which are important human qualities. The fine arts creates a space where students can have thoughtful dialogue about their stories, images, dances, poems, songs or music beyond the aesthetic aspect of their creations; where diversity of thinking and speaking is inclusive of everyone.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
I invite people to check out my web page www.danzaimpulseyarte.com and if inspired share with others.
- Website: www.danzaimpulseyarte.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa Griffin, Timothy Botsko and Anne Worrall