Written by Javier Jauregui
Self expression is a voice. At times it wants to scream, whisper, laugh, or cry. It wants to serve as a guide to what troubles us, the energy that fuels our soul. How these stories come to life is a function of the artist. What language do they choose to communicate in?
Yesenia Gomez, known as “Yessy” to her students, tied her identity, her voice, to dance. She sees it as a form of hope and healing. This sense of rejuvenation doesn’t belong to dance, but to any form of creation. We are all creators, experimenting with what we are good at, may it be cooking, babysitting, or listening. We are all artists. Art is in the way we communicate. For Yessy, negativity cannot exist in movement. It is difficult to be depressed, to feel anxiety when the body connects with the breath of a song. Two artists having a conversation, feeding off one another. Dance provides a way of expressing one’s self emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
To dance is to be on a journey of discovery, unraveling the curiosities that make us unique. Dance gives one the freedom to experience worlds unseen, unknown to us. Dance is the bridge connecting the realm of consciousness with the unexplored areas of our unconscious. Yessy believes that dance provides a path, a map to identity.
The art of movement gave Yessy a space to fit in an environment that consistently rejected her. It provided a place, a home where she could belong.
Yet, dance does not define Yessy. It is not a label attached to the core of her being; but this wasn’t always the case. There was a time in her life where “Dancer” and Yessy were two different words describing the same person. Approximately seven years ago, a knee injury left Yessy unable to walk or stand straight, much less dance. As far as she was concerned, life ended with the injury.
What happens when identity is shattered? When we are no longer the person we thought we were? When we are unable to communicate in a language true to our soul? What do you do? Who are you?
Two and a half years ago, Yessy called on God. Asking for salvation, she vowed to give herself to him. God spoke and said, “You will dance for me.” It took some time, but with newfound resolve she managed to stand. Then walk. Now, she can dance. The need for acceptance never leaves. The need to belong and find a foundation to our identity. To be touched… by someone, something.
What does one do to reach an answer?
Today, Yessy spends her time and energy helping youth understand what makes them tick via dance. She provides love, unconditional love to the students she mentors. In her words, “they need someone to care about them not just as a dancer, but a human being,” creating a relationship where both can be vulnerable with one another.
It is this state of vulnerability where identity takes place, where one can venture off and understand who they are, to be at peace with years of anxiety, detachment, and sorrow. To make sense of how uneasy it is to feel nothing, to feel everything, to be a stampede of disfunction. To figure out why one can feel such solitude when surrounded by hundreds of people, to feel isolated despite having loved ones around. Dance is therapeutic, a conversation of movement and song, showcasing the dancer’s stitches of existence that feel close to ripping apart.
What Yessy has done for herself and her students has brought people to tears. It resonates, connects individuals, the universe inside us all, with all other realities wandering around, asking, “Does anyone else feel this way?”
Can you feel it? It’s beautiful.
Vizions Dance Company is Director Yesenia “Yessy” Gomez, Artistic Consultant Isauro “Sauri” Gomez, Antonio Florez-Hamilton, Antonio Jaimes, Ashley Serbenta, Aubrianna Lance, Bre Dawkins, Emily Prymula, Greg Smith, John “J-Styles” Gibbons, Kelsey Smith, Lawrence Calbert, Lexi Dengate, Maddie Young, Mark Evans II, Megan Corey, Ruben Garcia, Shelby Oleksy, Shorty Morales, Tony Smith, Toussaint “2_Sense” Anderson.
Special Dance Guests for This Space is Not Abandoned include Alexa Stites (RSOD), Aniya Bennette (C.A.P.A.), Anna Alexander (C.A.P.A.), Anna Rivera (C.A.P.A., Leader), Donahven Hunter (C.A.P.A.), Emerson Ross (RSOD), Fantashia Dejesus (C.A.P.A.), Gabe Gonzaga (ODD Crew, Calvin), Geeha Kim (Sodium Crew, L.A.), Grace Lopez (C.A.P.A., Leader), Izzi Wood (RSOD), Jeffrie Hunter (C.A.P.A., Director), Kaila Gentz, Kendal Hefner (RSOD), Kitwana Clark (FSU), Lacy Lange (C.A.P.A., Leader), Leah Alexander (C.A.P.A.), Macy Arquette (RSOD), Makiah Gray (C.A.P.A.), Mya Bell (C.A.P.A.), Namiah Dejesus (C.A.P.A.), Paige Stites (RSOD), Rachel Alexander (C.A.P.A.), Selina Schmidt (DDA).
Yesenia “Yessy” Gomez has been teaching and choreographing professionally for more than 15 years. She has trained throughout the country with some of the industry’s greatest names, and she always strives to dive deeper in her ever-evolving craft. Her work ranges from musicals to music videos, concerts to community events, weddings to international performance stages and more. Accomplishing many great feats since appearing on Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance,” Yessy currently teaches and choreographs for West Michigan’s largest haunted attraction “The Haunt,” Motor City Choreographer Collective, Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities, Hearts in Step Christian Dance Studio (H.I.S. Dance), Community Artz & Praiz Academy (C.A.P.A.) in Holland, several outreach/community programs for underprivileged children including Believe to Become (GRPS) and D.A. Blodgett St John’s Children’s Home, and also directs a drop-in dance center called “No Limit Dance” in Kentwood (www.nolimitdancegr.com).