By Oliver Blanco
Performing in her first professional dance at the age of eight, Andrea C. Martinez Gonzalez danced alongside her grandmother at the 1957 Los Angeles Fair. Gonzalez’s grandmother, Filicitas Oropeza was part of a dance company during Gonzalez’s childhood years. At the age of five, Oropeza took Gonzalez to her dance company’s rehearsals.
Gonzalez was amazed by her grandmother’s dancing. She attempted to emulate her and other professional dancers during practices. Gonzalez’s parents supported her decision to dance and paid for her classes throughout her childhood years.
Gonzalez studied Latin American History at Immaculate Heart College, where she got her bachelor of arts degree. She got her Masters degree in 1974 at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Gonzalez has danced and performed professionally her whole life. She has performed in New York City, Florida, Mexico, Spain, Canada, Puerto Rico and Costa Rica. After traveling internationally, she qualified to teach history and dance at Garfield High School. She taught at Garfield for 20 years before being hired at East Los Angeles College last September.
Rick Crawford, a tenured dance instructor at ELAC, was amazed by Gonzalez’s dance skills. He told her to talk to Erika Blanco, the Head Chair of the Physical Education Department, for a job. A few weeks before Cinco de Mayo, Blanco hired Gonzalez to teach a masters dance class at ELAC. Blanco gave Gonzalez the job after hearing what Gonzalez could offer Elans.
Gonzalez begins her classes by educating her students in the proper way to stretch before dancing. Once starting her lesson, she breaks them up into small groups and teaches her students the dance steps. Her dance class is mixed with beginning and advanced Folklorico dancers. She breaks them into small groups allowing the more advanced student, to assist the beginning dancers.
Gonzalez compliments Benjamin Hernandez, former Folklorico dance instructor of ELAC with having set a professional level for the program. Gonzalez is humbled to have gotten the job as a Folklorico dance instructor of ELAC, and to plans to continue teaching students at professional level.
UCLA grade school dancers and ELAC dancers will be performing tomorrow in front of the S2 Building from noon to 3:00 pm. as part of Cinco de Mayo celebration.
Gonzalez will also be hosting a “So you think you could sing a ranchera” at noon in front of the S2 building.
Attendees will be allowed to request a song to sing live free of charge.