At six foot, sophomore Jonathan Estrada towers as the sole male dancer among a throng of females. Yet with the utmost grace and poise, Estrada effortlessly leaps and glides across the stage to showcase what he does best: ballet.
This isn’t the only form of dance that Estrada is apt at performing. Since he was eight, the dancer has also been involved with hip-hop, lyrical, musical theater, contemporary, and tap—dances that take on different facets of technique and interpretative form. However, ballet has been Estrada’s primary focus for the past four years; he currently dances and competes as a soloist and in groups at the Cutting Edge Dance Center in Diamond Bar. Estrada is also a dancer of the Advanced Performance and Dance Ensemble classes at DBHS. Out of all the dance forms, he stresses the importance of technique and accuracy in ballet.
“Ballet is the ‘core of dance.’ It focuses on your body and how to correct your technique. For example, a kick could be turned in and that could be wrong. [Ballet] teaches you to turn it out and focus on placement,” Estrada said.
The ballet dancer began his dancing journey in the fourth grade by attending a dance class with an interested friend; however, his curiosity has opened up many opportunities.
Of these are the multiple dance conventions and scholarships that Estrada has participated in and won throughout his middle school years. A few include the Die Hard Dancer Award from the Nuevo Dance Convention, a six week scholarship in New York from the American Ballet Theater, and various summer intensive awards held in state.
In his first year in the Dance Department, Estrada dances with all girls in the Advanced Performance and Dance Ensemble class. Be that as it may, Estrada actually finds himself most comfortable dancing as the sole male dancer among a majority of female dancers.
“I think it’s because I’m so used to it. Dancing with boys is more uncomfortable with me because I’m not as used to it—also, I feel like there is more competition,” Estrada confessed.
Being able to dance ballet well was a learning process for Estrada that involved striving for accuracy and time management. The dancer dedicates around 13 hours a week to practice dancing at the studio. However, he feels most motivated and inspired by his dance teachers at Cutting Edge and has learned to grow as a dancer and person.
“He is passionate about his dancing and artistry. You really see him come out, his true self, when he dances [ballet]. I think that’s the amazing part about what he does—it’s unexpected,” dance teacher Kari Simonson said.
Despite his busy schedule, the dancer finds ballet dancing recreational and favors the challenges that particular dance moves can bring him. In particular, Estrada enjoys any move that deals with leg placement and leaps. Generally, the dancer loves ballet for its cathartic quality.
“I [love] getting to know the other dancers, because you share a passion. It’s really refreshing to know someone who loves something that you love. Dancing, for me, relieves the stress,” Estrada said.