MY L.A. DANCE STORY By Gisella Ferreira MY ROOTS Dancing has always been my passion. It is my way of letting go and healing myself. Both of my parents were dancers, and shared their love of dance with me. My Brazilian dad taught me Samba dance growing up and it was our special way of connecting with one another and to our Brazilian roots. I danced with friends in Hip-Hop companies growing up and started teaching dance when I was about 12-yearsold. I would gather my friends together and teach them, always preparing for the talent show for the end of the year. Teaching was something that came naturally to me. I started my own Hip-Hop teams in junior high and high school, and it was in high school that I started to build my life around dance, and samba became one of my main focuses. After high school I came to L.A. to study dance at UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures. I worked at the UCLA. gym teaching Hip-Hop and Samba, while I benefited from the many cultural dances that UCLA provided such as West African, Contact Improvisation, House, Modern, Ballet, and Belly dance, to name a few. I started studying capoiera and eventually began to dance in a local Brazilian dance company performing Samba and many traditional dances of Brazil. LIVING IN LA Straight out of college it was hard to survive as a dancer in L.A. I remember struggling trying to get by from one gig to another and being on what I called a “quesadilla budget.” Basically, I just bought a bag of tortillas, cheese and beans, and tried to make it last a whole week. There were many times when I would think about giving up and moving back home to Santa Cruz, but I wanted to stay as long as possible. I decided to share my love for dance as much as I could. I started teaching Samba and Hip-Hop at a few local studios including Culver City’s BrasilBras