Today we’d like to introduce you to Jaimie Flores.
Hi Jaimie, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
I first started dance when I was about 7 years old. My mom enrolled me in a ballet class at a local dance studio and I instantly fell in love. I knew from a very young age that I wanted dance to be my career. I stayed in dance through high school even when things got tough financially at home. I remember working a part-time job in high school just to be able to pay for myself to stay in dance classes. It was quite discouraging to find out once I started my college application process that no universities in the state of Tennessee offered dance as a major. At about the time I graduated high school, there were some big and challenging changes happening in my personal life and I began struggling with mental health and in school. I lost all motivation to dance and actually quit completely. I went to college for psychology and ended up losing my scholarships and thus dropping out of after a year. I was at one of the lowest points in my life. However, the break from school helped me focus and gather myself and gain some confidence to pursue dance again. I started training with a friend that taught at a local studio. Serendipitously, it was about this time that Middle Tennessee State University had announced that they were introducing Dance Performance and Dance Pedagogy as a major-being the first university in the state of Tennessee to do so. I enrolled back into school, auditioned for the new dance major, and graduated class of 2018 with a Bachelor’s degree in Dance Pedagogy. I now teach for the Rhythm and Spirit Dance Program for Williamson County Parks and Rec and pick up choreographer and dancer gigs for local Nashville projects and other artists. I plan on launching some more personal projects of my own and continuing to pursue dance as a full-time career.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It has not been the smoothest of roads. Some major struggles have been cultural gaps, finances, and mental illnesses. I am a second-generation immigrant. Growing up with one culture in the home and then going into the world and having to learn brand new cultures as you go is very difficult. Many people do not realize the luxury that is having their parents walk them through the systems of college, getting a job, professional events, etc. Many of these things I had to figure out on my own or seek outside help.
Another struggle I faced was finances-or lack thereof. The arts are unfortunately still not as available to those that may not come from money. On top of working to pay for cost-of-living expenses, us dancers also have to keep up with frequently buying new shoes for class and performances, leotards, tights, costuming, make sure we can afford a well-balanced diet, transportation, extra technique classes we may need, medical care if an injury were to happen, and even long-term care after an injury. It adds up and for many, it could be the reason dance is unavailable for them to pursue as a career or even extracurricularly. This was specifically and added obstacle for me because I have been financially independent from the time, I was 18. Everything I needed was my responsibility and sometimes I would simply have to sacrifice other needs in order to continue pursuing the future that I want.
And lastly mental illness. I have struggled with my mental health since before I even knew what it was. I struggled the most with my mental health in college. It affected my grades, my motivation to train, and even to eat. I battled with anxiety and depression on a daily basis. The effects this has on your performance as a human being are not to be taken lightly and although I am in a much better place, I still struggle and hope that transparency can lead to having more open dialogues about this struggle and let people know they are not alone.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I am a dancer and choreographer. I love to work on production sets of music videos, short films, and I love choreographing for musical theatre productions as well. I specialize in contemporary and modern dance and am known for creating emotional and vulnerable work. I am most proud of the detail and attention I put into my work and how much I pour into the people I work with. I think what sets me apart is that I am an excellent teacher but I am also teachable. I am a student just as much as I am a teacher and I carry that mindset with me everywhere I go.
What were you like growing up?
Growing up I was extremely shy which is ironic considering I fell in love with performing arts. It took a lot for me to open up to people and make friends but once I did you really couldn’t shut me up. I was loyal and took friendship very seriously. I loved to make people laugh. I hated to do what everyone else was doing but I hated when I got too much attention. I’d rather do my own thing and go unnoticed. I loved to read, and I loved being a confidant to my friends. Change was always challenging for me whether it was graduating into middle school or my mom being late for pick up-change was always an overwhelming experience for me and it was always hard for me to cope.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @jai_flo
Middle Tennessee State University Dance and Theatre Department