Today we’d like to introduce you to Kayla Gabrielle Aguila.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Kayla Gabrielle. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was born and raised in Manila, Philippines and moved to Los Angeles when I was 14 years old. In my first few years in the United States, I was culture shocked and struggled a lot with moving into a new country. Although I knew how to speak English fluently, I was insecure with speaking the language and often found myself shying away from engaging and communicating with others. It was through dance that I was able to feel empowered and fearless to assert myself into my new environment.
I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by passionate, hardworking teachers and dancers in a ballet school in Burbank. Back home, most people only saw dancing and the arts as a recreational activity. It was my first time encountering such drive, love and commitment for the art form. I saw how impactful dance could be. This gave me focus and direction in life when I felt so incredibly homesick, depressed, and out of place. My appreciation and gratitude towards dance grew and ultimately, I decided to pursue it further in higher education at California Institute of the Arts. CalArts gave me so many opportunities to travel, share and experience dance all over the world. Through CalArts, I was able to perform in amazing places such as the Wenshan Theater in Taipei as well as the Paris Opera. I had only dreamed of having those opportunities in my life!
I graduated CalArts in 2019 with a richer understanding of my artistic identity and a clearer mission in life. With the help and support of my mentors throughout the years, I am continuously fueled to impact the world through dance and my art.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It certainly has not been a smooth road. When my family and I moved to Los Angeles, we were met with a lot of financial struggles. My parents were barely making enough to provide for our basic needs. Needless to say, dance was not a priority. My parents worked hard and supported me to be in dance regardless of these struggles, knowing that dance was helping me cope mentally with the drastic change our family went through.
I was also far behind with my peers in dance classes, I was the always the oldest one in each class and was not at all at the same level as them. It was as if I was starting from the bottom once again. I was inspired by this challenge; I knew I had to work so much harder each day. I was fortunate enough to be offered financial assistance from my studio in order to be enrolled in all the classes I needed to be in. I assisted my teachers in almost each class offered, I worked the summer intensives and cleaned mirrors. In college, I also worked multiple jobs in order to help pay for my education. Dance has always been a privilege and I am grateful for having these opportunities.
I also struggled with feeling like I needed to prove the worth of my dance career. In Filipino culture, most people are expected to take up a career that would be financially stable. It was always a little hard to explain to my family members (aunts, uncles, grandparents etc.) what I was pursuing as a career. It is just me and my sister pursuing the arts and not everyone understood that there is even a trajectory and a future with our choices. It felt like I always had to have answers to all the questions…. Which is impossible. I, too have no answers to my future most of the time! However, this only made my love for dance and the arts even stronger. It has brought a sense of purpose in my life. I found myself questioning and deconstructing those ideas and expectations by my culture; enriching my curiosity to research my Filipino American identity through dance.
Tell us more about your work.
I am currently a freelance dance artist with a mission to discover endless movement possibilities through researching tasks and qualities motivated by cultural identity and language. I also teach young dancers and am finishing my Pilates certification.
I try to approach my work with my mission, integrity, honesty, and passion. Dance has opened so many doors and opportunities for me not just as a better artist, but also as a better human being. I am so overwhelmed (in the best ways possible) with learning about myself and the world through the lens of dance.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Good luck played a role in my life every time I met some of the most incredible people who inspired AND are still inspiring me today. Truly, without the guidance of my teachers/mentors Spenser Theberge, Bret Easterling, Dimitri Chamblas and more, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I was always so focused on finding definite answers and solutions about pursuing my career— almost too focused that I tried to control and calculate every little detail. Having them to look up to was eye opening. I was reminded that it is important to have fun, to TRUST the process, and to get myself out of my own way. I have so much gratitude for their endless support and I only want to continue this cycle! I currently teach young dancers and want to be able to show that kind of love and support for others.
- I am teaching Pilates and ballet private lessons! (Currently through Zoom. However, if there is an arrangement possible, I am happy to discuss)
- Pilates Privates: 30 minutes for $30. (Package for two privates a week is priced at $50./$25 a class),
- Ballet Private Lesson: 1 hour for $45
- Website: https://www.kaylagabrielle.com/
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kaylagabrielle/
Josh Rose, Marissa Mooney, Lee Gumbs