Photo credit: Elena Perez (Elena Perez)
Photo credit: Elena Perez

Elena Perez

Ballet dancer uses her art form to progress in life

June 3, 2019

The high beam of the fluorescent lights glared down at her as she makes her way back and forth across the stage in a swift motion.

The Physical Education Building in Room 212 is where the dancers gather to hone their skills and talent.The room is filled with people of all diverse backgrounds. It’s big and lights are protruding at all angles. It’s spacious enough where all students can practice. Students move around with their shoes off trying to perfect their moves. One student who brings everybody to stop what their doing is a woman of curly hair.

Her peers watch her in awe. “She’s amazing,” “Wow,” are whispers you can hear around the room as she does moves that they can’t do and are still learning.

When everybody is done practicing she is still on the floor with Beethoven playing, moving to the right notes and murmuring “damn” at every pause. She’s frustrated at not staying in sync with the music.

“Hell yes, I finally hit that note,” the curly-haired girl says as she stops to catch her breath.

She walks over to drink some water and looks at the Apple Watch on her wrist. It’s 11 a.m. and her psychology class starts in 15 minutes.

She looks back and sees that her classmates are staring at her and lets them know practice is over.

Jasmine Mussadiq, 20, a psychology major at El Camino College is one of the dancers who stands out from the rest. She is an African-American woman, 5 feet, 5 inches, and is always wearing black tights with a white shirt. She has hazel eyes, brown curly hair and freckles across her face.

Jasmine is a ballet dancer who is not only focused on her artistic craft but in academics.

Jasmine juggles school and dance in the best way she can. She loves to dance but understands that without an education life is going to be hard. She assumes her major as a “crutch” if she doesn’t want to continue to dance.

She has a knack for always doing the most on the dance floor to be the best. Coming to practices with her black tights and black hoodie, she looks forward to what the day and practice can teach her about her craft.

Every Friday she wakes up at 8 a.m. and takes the bus from Long Beach to El Camino College to get on the practice floor. She always has on a backpack strapped across her shoulder when she gets to Room 212.

“El Camino wasn’t my choice but thanks to a friend, I chose this school” says Jasmine.

She was so close to choosing Long Beach College because its close to her house but one of her friends who graduated from El Camino College told her that “It’s a good school.”

“I cherish every moment on stage with the lights in your face, being surrounded by the music, performing for an audience and hearing their applause,” Jasmine says. “It’s something most people will never feel, but it’s one of the best feelings anyone could ever imagine.”

Modern ballet or contemporary dance is what she views as her best friends. She says she was chosen to dance and accepts the criticism and the praise that comes with the art.

She first discovered dance in elementary school but started off in the modern and lyrical area of the field.

It wasn’t until she watched an episode of “So You Think You Can Dance” with choreographer Mia Michaels that changed everything. She choreographed a contemporary, emotional piece about addiction and inspired Jasmine to dance in a new way. It was also when she discovered her passion for dance, specifically contemporary.

“I dabble in many styles but contemporary is personal,” Jasmine says. “Contemporary is therapy, as it runs through my veins allowing me to express something through every fiber and feeling relieved afterwards.”

Jasmine’s upbringing hasn’t been without sacrifices. Dance is more than entertainment to her. Dance is therapy for what happens internally and externally. Her parents are separated, and she feels like she’s living in two worlds.

As fun and exciting as dance can be it can also be overwhelming.

She takes full time classes at El Camino College while being part of the dance department. After every practice she is drenched in sweat and carrying a suitcase filled with her practice gear and her school books heading back home after a long day.

“Really if I could train and dance and like make it far, I will basically continue,” Jasmine says. “It just all depends on my growth within the next year or two.”

She wants to fine tune her her skills and perform in a lot of shows and see how far she gets.

She found her way to El Camino College through a program called Project Success.

Project Success is where students are put in classes that help them with transfer courses in units. It helps students to be able to have a smooth transition to a four-year university.

Jasmine, who in her last semester at El Camino and wants to transfer to Cal State Long Beach, appreciates what this program has done for her. She believes that she wouldn’t be the person that she is today without Project Success. She considers Project success like a family.

“When Jasmine entered the program she was always asking questions about her future but now she has a clear goal of what she wants, Brian Mims

It’s been 11 years of dancing and she’s going full speed with her craft. She is a practice magnet who is always in Room 212 in P.E. building perfecting her craft.

“She is a hard worker that doesn’t take days off and practices are not easy with her leading the way,” says Chauntel Williams, 20, communications major.

On a Spring weekday morning Room 212 is filled with people of all diverse backgrounds. Contemporary instrumentals fill the air and talent starts to show out on stage. When the students step inside the room the mindset of everybody changes. It’s all seriousness and work related and Jasmine’s mentality is fixated on ballet and the task at hand.

Coming into the room dressed in tights and a gray shirt she starts to move swiftly across the floor in unison with the instrumental. She doesn’t stop her movements but only when she wants to get her classmates on the same page as her.

“Jasmine is talented and very structured in the way she teaches us,” says Sterling deAurora, a biology major. “She goes step by step over the movements that go in sync with the piece.”

Her talent and her work ethic is what she views as a positive.

“Having Jasmine as a student and teacher to in the same room has made my job easier”, says Professor Jessica Kondrath, dance instructor. “She’s a hard worker and a top level talent.”

“For me dance is not a competition,” Jasmine says. “It’s a lifestyle and an art form. People love art and want to connect to such a thing, yet everyone isn’t blessed with the talent of dance.”