Dallas — In 2014, Dallas gained a new dance company. They might have slipped under your radar, but they are about to enter their sophomore year with a bang. The Mosaic Dance Project of Dallas was started by Dallas native and Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts graduate Giovanna Godinez Prado. Fueled by a desire to create, educate, and inspire individuals to grow, not only as dancers, but as artists, Prado has stepped forward to bring forth a cultural and ethical awareness of her heritage, and truly, the historical dance heritage of Dallas.
Ballet Folklórico and the Latin culture are intertwined with modern Dallas. It has been a part of the dance education in many schools in the city, and though it we have seen it dwindling over the years, Prado is committed to giving it a second life. Prado, herself, is an established and very successful artist, not only as a principal dancer at some of the top professional companies in the world, but as a choreographer and Maestra through her years. She has recruited individuals that share the same passion and ethical values that she does for Mosaic, and they will be first-time performers at this year’s Dallas DanceFest.
We talked with Giovanna about her desire to start Mosaic, what they will be presenting at the Dallas DanceFest, and what the future holds.
TheaterJones: The Mosaic Dance Project of Dallas is just a year old. How has the first year been and what motivated you to create the company?
Giovanna Godinez Prado: The first year, I can say, has been both a positive and learning experience. In the past, I have been a part of companies that trusted me to unite and create stronger companies. This time, I am building something of my own from the ground up—with the help of my husband, Jamie Prado, who is the official photographer and a contributor to Mosaic. And I’m learning that there is a very big difference when you’re in charge…the trials and tribulations…we, as Mosaic, and myself, are learning; it’s a process.
What motivated me were not only the artists, but my children as well. I have three children and they all love to learn about their culture. The oldest two dance with me. My oldest, Hector Prado, with my Nimitz High School Ballet Folklórico in Irving, and my daughter, Jaime Isabel Prado, who is the youngest member of Mosaic. You can say history repeats itself because my parents wanted me to be part of a company as well.
You’ve stated previously that you “can mold dancers to become great, but it is in fact up to the individual dancer to become a great artist that can evolve in this crazy and lovely artistic world.” How do you go about auditioning and selecting dancers for Mosaic?
Yes, I do believe that dancers can be molded to become great, and what I mean is that I assist and do my part in teaching them, but it is up to the dancer whether they want to grow and show their mark as great artists…When I was offered the opportunity to bring together a group of artists for our first project, I handpicked them. This original cast will be who you see at the Dallas DanceFest. Many of them have been not only by my side, but also by my parents’, Walley and Manuel Godinez, for almost 10 years. Others I have performed with and have known for many, many years with incredible accomplishments as artists themselves. As I was electing the dancers my thought and question was, how would all these dancers connect and compliment each other and would they have the same vision and ethical values that were passed down to me? We all have something to learn from each other and I believe, and I thank our creator—I call him our Big Daddio—for not only the opportunity to create this company, but to bring together individual artists that love and are eager to learn more and grow more…
I’m looking for artists with dance experience, not only on stage, but as well as an individual artist that are willing to take on other dance techniques such as ballet, modern, contemporary, jazz, tap, African, folklore, etc.
Additionally, how important is educating and creating opportunities for continued training for your dancers to you?
Without education how can one grow? Not just as an artist, but also as a person. I completely encourage Mosaic artists to take as much as they can learn not only from me, but from other Maestros, Masters, and Professors, that can enhance their artistry. Even as the artistic director, I take master classes with many other masters. Because one never stops learning; one cannot stop learning. There is too much out there to see and learn, and as artists we have that obligation to continue and pass down that knowledge and artistry to our future artists.
And how do you go about creating educational opportunities for the community?
We are a community-based company and Mosaic Dance Academy offers classes to those who choose to want to learn not only their culture but learn all cultures and genres of dance. The heads of Mosaic Dance Academy are the two individuals that have not only given me life, but have taught me to be the artist I am today, my parents (Walley and Manuel Godinez). They themselves have shown me the meaning of humbleness, being ethical, and most importantly, taught me to be proud of the artist I am still working on becoming. Walley works not only with the children, she also works with senior citizens that are so young at heart and eager. They are a force to be reckoned with! They have so much experience that can be taught shared with the community.
This is your first time to perform at the Dallas DanceFest, are you excited to join this festival and bring your unique take on such a historical form of dance?
Yes! We are very excited to show our beautiful culture filled with love, colors, and tradition. As for me, it is like coming home, I am a BTWHSPVA graduate, class of 1997. I performed with the rest of my Rep I artist in the Dallas Morning News Dance Festival, as it was called in those times, and would perform at the [Annette Strauss] Artist Square in the open air. To come back as an artist that has developed, I am very humbled and very honored for Mosaic to have been considered for this prestigious event.
What will you be presenting? Can you tell us a little bit about your piece?
Mosaic will be presenting just eight minutes of 25-minute piece called Amores Jaliscienses. The piece is about a love story that evolves within the little town of Tecalitlan, Jalisco. With the time allotment we will only be showing a part of it, but it will be full of life and colors and music that will move your feet!
What are you most looking forward to with the Dallas DanceFest?
Honestly, I look forward to the interaction of the different companies and the amazing staff of the Dallas DanceFest. There is so much variety, and I’m so excited for my dancers to interact with others and embrace this grand experience of being with other artists who share their same passion…We all bring something to the stage!
What do you hope the audience takes away after watching your piece?
Love, energy, and joy! That no matter where we are in life, no matter what goes on in this world, the one thing you remember is joy, and that we have the ability to have that no matter what stage in life we are in!
What do you hope you personally take away from the DanceFest?
Friendships, collaborations, respect…coming home.
What does the future hold for the Mosaic Dance Project?
I cannot count on the future, but I can count on day by day, and with that I wish for Mosaic, growth and more opportunities, because I am not just developing a group, I am developing a company like any other professional company, with prestige and quality. We are a company that wants to exhibit not just Latin folklore, but other genres as well.
There was a time when I was growing up when I was asked, “Are you just a Mexican folklore dancer?” And my answer was, “No! I’m an artist and I am a well-rounded artist!” That is why “We are Mosaic,” because we are a little bit of everything.
» The second Dallas DanceFest is Sept. 4-6. Performances will take place on Friday and Saturday night at 8 p.m. with the 2015 Dance Council Honors awards ceremony and performance showcase occurring on Sunday afternoon.
» For a full list of this year’s DDF participants, including biographies, plus profiles, reviews and more, see our special section devoted to the DanceFest.
» To read a bigger feature about the event, go here.
» Tickets for both events are available through TICKETDFW: online at www.TICKETDFW.com, by phone 214-871-5000, or in person at the box office 2353 Flora St., Dallas, TX 75201. For more information, go to www.dallasdancefest.org/