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Meet Michelle Morales of The Dance Warriors Program in Glendale

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michelle Morales.

Michelle, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was born in Los Angeles and raised in the city of Pacoima. My early childhood experience was rough growing up in an area that constantly threatened my sense of safety in addition to dealing with the adversity that comes along with mental health issues, trauma, and living in a single-parent home. Dance became my escape and a safe place for me to come alive. I had my first performance at the age of 5 and knew then that I was born to dance and perform. However, growing up in poverty and violence changed my trajectory in life. I lived in fear and though my mom worked two jobs and was on government assistance, we still struggled to make ends meet. So, I made it my mission to get a higher education and create a safe, stable, and secure future for myself and family. Sadly, I had to put dance on the back burner to accomplish this goal.

I reconnected with dance in college when I joined the Cal State, Northridge Salsa performance team, Salsa Libre, and then went on to become the president of the club. I fell in love with salsa and committed to keeping dance as a hobby while I worked on getting a higher education. I eventually obtained my B.A. in Psychology and M.S. in Counseling with a specialization in School Psychology. I am now working as a School Psychologist and spend my days helping students with their academic and social-emotional needs.

Since college, I have also extensively trained with some of LA’s top Salsa instructors and choreographers. I’ve also directed my own performance team, competed, and placed 1st in local salsa competitions- LA’s Top Female Solo Salsa Competition, Amateur Division in 2015, and LA’s Top Social Dancer Competition, Open Level in 2018. With all of these wonderful accomplishments, I still found myself struggling emotionally, so dance became my vehicle for healing and personal transformation.

Growing up, I’ve always had this gnawing feeling that I am here for a higher purpose to create a positive impact in this world. Being a School Psychologist and Dancer temporarily fulfilled me. I am very passionate about helping others and I became obsessed with finding a way to do that through my two passions-dance and psychology, which led me to create a unique program called Dance Warriors.

Has it been a smooth road?
The effects of childhood adversity come with social-emotional, psychological, and health complications. I have struggled with all of these so it certainly has not been a smooth road for me, but I have been relentless in healing and transforming my life in order to pave the way for others like me. Because if I can do it, so can anyone else.

Trauma has negatively affected the way I perceive myself and engaged with the world. I have particularly struggled with a lack of self-worth, which has affected how I dance, my relationships, and business. And on top of that, we have to deal with our conditioning in believing our sense of worthiness and power comes from things outside of ourselves. But the truth is, our sense of worth comes from choosing yourself and your power comes from embracing all that you are. Challenging the status quo, questioning my beliefs and generational thought patterns, and living in alignment has been one of the most challenging and fulfilling things I have ever done. While dance has been a huge part of my healing process, I couldn’t have done it without therapy and coaching. I take full personal responsibility for my life and this helps me stay focused and motivated. After all, we are the masters of our story/life and this in itself is exciting and keeps me curious when I am confronted with challenges.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with The Dance Warriors Program – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Dance Warriors was created to help women reconnect to themselves, build self-confidence, and dance and/or perform their way to self-love, self-compassion, and self-trust. Dance in itself is a vulnerable activity and sometimes it brings up insecurities. I use these experiences to help women become aware of any limiting beliefs and destructive thought patterns, develop empowering beliefs, and make peace with their inner critic. I love holding a safe space for women to explore their thoughts, insecurities, and fears. And nothing excites me more than to see them step into their truth and reclaim their power through dance. I use a cognitive behavioral and coaching approach in my teachings. My life experience and extensive background in dance, psychology, behavioral analysis, and collaboration with other mental health professionals help me guide women back to themselves. And this is what sets me apart from other dance programs and performance teams. I also offer life coaching, empowerment seminars, and dance workshops. I am known as a salsa dancer/soloist and life coach. I use social media (e.g., IG and Facebook) to share my journey and inspire others.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love the freedom of choice, cultural diversity, and entrepreneurial culture in our city. The mom and pop business and hole in the wall restaurants that provide an authentic and cultural touch to their foods. Seeing a rise in the homeless community makes me sad and sometimes makes me feel helpless. It reminds me we still have a lot of work to do in LA.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jean Paul SanPedro, Dj Logic, Christina Brophy, Jazley Faith, Jessica Brizuela, Sultan Khan

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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