College Dance Team Central

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Lifelong Dancer Qualifies For UNM Team

By Nat Holland
El Defensor Chieftain

Hard work and dedication send 20-year-old one step closer to dream career

Amy Valles started dancing at age 3 in Socorro and has continued ever since. In May, she took one step closer to her dream of becoming a professional dancer when she qualified for the Chaparrals, the University of New Mexico's dance team.

To qualify, Valles competed against more than 50 other girls and was one of only 20 that qualified for the team. Dancers had to learn a one-minute routine and perform a series of technical moves during the audition.

"It was kind of intense," Valles said. "I didn't think there would be that many there."

Valles began her career at Julie Cottom's School of Dance, and continued taking classes — up to 11 classes at one time.

Valles participated in the local Charisma Blue dance team of past years, and also on the No Limits competitive dance team from Cottom's.

Competitive teams are usually judged on creativity, execution and technical difficulty, and results are compiled into an overall team score.

During her time on the No Limits dance team, they beat teams from larger schools in Albuquerque and Santa Fe to compete in national competitions.

"I don't really know how I got so involved, I guess I wasn't coordinated enough to play sports." Valles said modestly.

Only 20 years old, her skill in dance has taken her around the country and overseas.

Valles performed with dance teams in the Macey's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. The highlight so far, though, was dancing in London's New Year's parade.

Currently Valles works as an instructor for the Universal Dance Association, where she trains younger dancers from high schools around the country. Her goal is to eventually become a professional dancer for perhaps a basketball or football team.

"For basketball, perhaps Miami; or football, maybe the Chicago Bears," she said. "Anyone but the (Dallas) Cowboys."

The Chaparrals frequently perform at UNM Lobo events and dance competitions. Chaparral team members are required to be full-time UNM students and maintain at least a 2.5 Grade Point Average.

Team members are required to fundraise at least $375 each toward a team goal of $20,000 that pays for uniforms, warm-ups, summer training camp and travel to competitions. Valles said that anyone who is interested in donating to her or sponsoring the team should contact her at 505-517-9783.

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