Gaining confidence through dancing

Sophomore Alyssa Martinez stepped out of her comfort zone and tried something different, and that was Polynesian dancing.
The fast-paced drums, the sense that you’re in a different culture and all the heritage behind everything, she finds amazing.
She started four years ago and it’s something she has never regretted.
“Polynesian dancing is very different, and the culture is explained through every song,” Martinez said. “My cousin actually introduced me to it, since we have Hawaiian Culture and background.”
Polynesian dancing requires a lot of practice, as with any other physical activity. A majority of the time is dancing to the fast paced drums and not missing a beat.
Along with that, the dancers often move their arms and hands as well.
“A majority of the movements we do often resemble an event or symbolize something for the culture,” Martinez said.
Martinez is part of a family oriented group called “Tamarii Matairea” and has performed numerous times since she has begun. At one of her first performances, “Heiva Maohi o’ Patitifa,” she received a second place award out of 15 other competing girls.
Then Martinez started attending Stagg and continued dancing. But as an incoming freshman, it was harder to balance regular classes, extra curricular activities and the occasional gym outside of school and still maintain her passion for dancing.
“Of course it’s hard when you try to balance out everything, but it’s worth it. Nothing can stop me from dancing,” she said.
Her freshman year was fairly easy compared to this year, as she has had to balance out her dancing with yearbook and this past volleyball season.
The new schedule she’s now accustomed to leaves her with little to no time to rest or stop for a break.
“The only time I get to complete any homework is either at school or late at night when I get back from practice,” she said. “But it’s good still, I’m happy that I stay busy and able to keep my grades up.”
Another obstacle Martinez runs into a lot is criticism, from the little things to the more noticeable things as well.
“I often get criticized for not having the perfect body as some of the others do in our group,” Martinez explains. “Most of the time it’s from the audience, but it’s alright. I’m not there to impress every single person there, I’m there to try my all and express myself.”
Martinez hopes that after high school, she can advance with her group to do more and better performances.
“It’s all I think about when I hear ‘What you’re doing after high school?’ type questions,” she said. “Like for me, I can see myself eventually getting better and then be known for this. I want to make it a family thing, too. It’s something I would even want my future kids to be a part of, it’s a part of me.”