Between pictures of friends and memes on Instagram, you might come upon one of many videos of senior Danny Elias dancing her heart out to pop and hip-hop songs. The upbeat music always complements her completely improvised dance moves. Usually a shy person, she uses the platform of Instagram to be able to step out of her shell.
Elias moved to Fairfax from El Salvador two years ago to live with her aunt. She first learned English through English Language Development and practice with her cousin at home.
Described in one of her captions as a way to “shake off bad vibes,” her dance videos first went online in May of this year, when she started posting to see how her friends would respond.
“Since they had a good reaction to it, I feel more confident to dance in front of people because I’m not scared that they won’t have a good reaction to it,” Elias said.
Elias took dance classes at MoveMe studios in San Rafael over the summer but was forced to discontinue after her teacher returned to college. Despite dancing not being her main career focus, Elias would like to continue next year in college.
Elias is constantly listening to music, looking for songs to go with her videos. The location of her videos are spontaneous. Whether she’s at the park or at her friend’s house, if she feels like dancing, she will ask friends to film her to post on Instagram.
“I look for songs where I can feel the song. If I don’t feel it, I don’t dance to it. We [my friends and I] do it for fun, so I like pop and hip-hop [to dance to],” Elias said. “I feel like dancing hip-hop is like being strong.”
Elias is able to produce videos more frequently than before due to her friends’ preference of filming rather than performing. Juliana Santos, a sophomore from Drake High School, is usually the friend who helps Elias film her videos. Since they live in the same apartment complex, the two spend a lot of time together.
“She’s really confident in herself, that’s what I love about her,” Santos said. “Although, if I ever wanted to be in a video of her’s, it would take a couple months to get as good as she is.”
Elias credits her dancing skills to her grandmother who, at age nine, taught her dances. She also cites the popular dance movies “Step Up” (2006) and “Street Dance” (2010) as inspiration. Elias also credits her family for helping cement her positive mindset of believing that she can achieve anything she puts her mind to.
Besides dancing by herself, she likes to teach her family members and friends, such as senior Julianna Hernandez, who was the first friend to be featured in Elias’ dance videos.
Although Hernandez is not usually shy, when it comes to dancing she was a bit reluctant to perform in front of other people until Elias helped changed that mindset.
“I would take dance classes with my sister and would make sure that nobody I knew was in that class, otherwise I wouldn’t do it,” Hernandez said. “When I posted a video with her, she pushed me out of my shell and she made me love to dance and [I could] feel it in my bones.”
Along with performing for fun, Elias also utilizes dance for study breaks to destress in between doing homework and other tasks.
“Sometimes if there’s a song that I really like, I’ll just stand up and start dancing. Then I go back and do my homework. If I’m cleaning the house, I’m dancing. Even when I’m taking a shower, I’m dancing,” Elias said.