My name is Alana Cristina Rodríguez Soto and I am 21 years old. I'm from Puerto Rico. The studio I dance at is called Centro Danza.
Can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I started dancing ballet when I was 3, in School for the Performing Arts, because my mom put me in classes. At age 6, I started taking jazz classes. While I grew up and took more classes, love and passion for dancing started growing in me. At age 14, I moved to Balleteatro Nacional de Puerto Rico where I did my first ballet, Giselle. In Balleteatro, I had the opportunity to be ballet corps for Nutcracker, Sylvia, Pharaoh's Daughter, La Bayadere Suite, Swan Lake Suite, and many more, along with neoclassical repertoire. At the age of 18, I moved to Centro Danza with the direction of Laura Valentín, where I am currently an advanced student. With Centro Danza, I have done soloist and principal roles in Swan Lake, Giselle, many others, and also neoclassical repertoire. Apart from ballet, I love learning different dance styles like hip hop, jazz, and ballroom dance. Currently, I'm working hard on my future and figuring out the path I want to follow. Even though it's hard sometimes, it is important to stay surrounded by people who love and support you and also always want what you are doing, be hungry for it. That's what gives me the strength to move on.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I would say it has not. Dancing is a very competitive industry. I'm still in the process of pursuing my dreams, and from experience, I can say to myself and others that it is important to be hungry for it, stay humble and grounded and work hard for it because nobody else is gonna do it for you, and have fun!
What personal limitations if any did you go through in your young career?
Some personal limitations have been stereotypes. We grow thinking that we have to have a certain body in order to pursue whatever it is we want. I, personally, think that everyone comes from different backgrounds and body types, and that's beautiful! Ballet is very demanding for your body artistically, physically, and mentally. I do think we need to stay healthy to do the art and sport of ballet and have the stamina but always have a balanced diet because not eating is definitely not healthy. I think that's a personal limitation that many people go through in this career.
Has anybody ever tried to limit you on what you could do? If so how did you fight it?
I'm grateful that I haven't had anyone who told me I can't. But, only once I received a comment about my body. At the time, I got so frustrated, but I learned to get past it, and I guess it makes me stronger, to believe more in myself. From experience, I can say that if someone tells you that you can't, in some way, just know who you are and what you are worth because with dedication and concentrating on yourself, you can get past it. Don't let negative comments enter your head because the human brain is so powerful, and thinking badly about yourself just cause another person said it is not healthy. Use them to make yourself stronger.
How do you conquer negative talk?
Negative talk is always going to be around us. To conquer negative thoughts, it is important to be surrounded by people who love you and remind yourself that you can achieve anything you want by believing in yourself and working for it. Don't let anyone take it away from you.
What is your favorite quote?
I have many, but I could say one is
"Let them doubt you while God develops you." - Author Unknown
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I'm currently finishing college, working hard on upcoming shows, and sending auditions here and there to have new experiences. I'm believing in the process and in myself. Having patience and staying grounded is key.