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Tracking COVID-19 at UCLADance Disassembled: Seeing Beyond the Curtain

UCLA student takes dance moves to national level in commercial

Third-year dance and political science student Alejandra Rodríguez performed as part of a commercial for Fox Deportes, a division of Fox Sports broadcasted in Spanish, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the network. (Photo by Sakshi Joglekar/Assistant Photo editor, Photo Illustration by Eunice Hong)

By Rachael Odebunmi

Nov. 10, 2021 9:43 p.m.

Alejandra Rodríguez has found her rhythm.

The third-year dance and political science student performed in a commercial for Fox Deportes, a division of Fox Sports broadcast in Spanish, that aired Oct. 26. The commercial celebrates the 25th anniversary of the network with newscasters and dancers moving to the song “Fuego” by Bomba Estéreo. This was her first appearance on a large national network and one of her first dance jobs since the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.

“There was a time where we couldn’t do what we love the most,” Rodríguez said. “To get work off of something that you love and is your passion – it’s a complete blessing.”

Rodríguez said she began dancing at 3 years old and was quickly hooked because of the way dance can influence people’s emotions and perspectives. She made it her mission to train in as many styles as possible, such as ballet, hip-hop, flamenco and jazz, Rodríguez said. By training in a variety of styles, she said she can avoid being categorized as one type of dancer and increase her likelihood of being cast in more jobs.

[Related: Dance Disassembled: Hip-hop, ballet offer contrasting opportunities for expression through dance]

At 12 years old, Rodríguez was first introduced to ballet and tap. Rodríguez said she began taking her dance training seriously and expanded to more styles when she was 15. At this age, she said she traveled to Mexico City and trained for a month in a variety of styles for 10 hours a day at BlackStudio. Although grueling, she said it aided in her decision to pursue dance professionally.

“I want to immerse myself into the industry work of dance, as well as the art form of dance, because for so many people, dance can mean so many things,” Rodríguez said. “I just like every aspect and every scope of it.”

Rodríguez has been hired for all her dance gigs through industry connections, she said, and was not required to audition for the commercial. Both the commercial’s choreographer, Jesús Mosqueda, and Rodríguez are from Tijuana, Mexico, which Rodríguez said is known for its tightknit dance community. Rodríguez said Mosqueda reached out to her after looking at her Instagram and asked if she was interested in the commercial. Mosqueda said he was searching for versatile Latin dancers, and Rodríguez fit that image.

Since the commercial required a large production, Rodríguez said the filming process took place over a five-day period at Popsicle Studio and Quixote Studios, both located in the Los Angeles area. The dancers stayed in a nearby hotel and spent long days on set filming hours of footage for the commercial, she said.

“It was just me and the camera,” Rodríguez said. “It was me dancing for my life and even though I knew I had eyes on me, they were all blocked out.”

Since the dancers and newscasters were featured dancing together, Rodríguez said the choreography was mostly made up of simple, high-energy movements. From references to sports, such as throwing punches, tossing footballs and dribbling soccer balls, to balancing dance movements and technical sports motions, Mosqueda said the overarching theme alluded to sports.

Although much of the choreography was set, Rodríguez said the dancers were also given moments to freestyle in order to show off their different styles of movement, such as salsa, reggaeton, acrobatics, hip-hop and contemporary. For Rodríguez’s moment of freestyle, she said she was tasked with improvising in front of a projector.

[Related: Online dance performance emphasizes resisting white supremacy through movement]

With dance taking the spotlight of the commercial, Mosqueda said he was delighted with the final result. In many commercials featuring dancers, Mosqueda said days worth of footage can be cut into 10 seconds of dancing. However, he said this time, footage of the dancers was a significant part of the video, taking up almost half of the commercial. The entire crew was proud of the final product because of the smooth production process and how joyous yet clean the commercial turned out, he said.

Throughout her dance journey, Rodríguez said a large source of her support has been her friends and family. Third-year dance student and Rodríguez’s close friend Christopher Aguirre said he has always bonded with Rodríguez over their similar career goals. He said he has witnessed her growth as they have gone through the dance program together and was filled with pride when he saw Rodríguez appear in the commercial.

“When I saw her on the screen, I was like, ‘Wow,'” Aguirre said. “I was very speechless. I’m seeing her do the work, and I’m seeing her unfold this dream.”

Looking ahead, Rodríguez said she has goals of dancing on world tours with music artists like Bad Bunny and KAROL G, being signed to a talent agency and teaching dance. This commercial has gotten her one step closer to these goals, she said.

“Even though the art form fulfills me, personally and internally, dancing for a commercial has changed my perception of dance,” Rodríguez said. “There’s so much I can do now that my name is out there.”

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Rachael Odebunmi
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