Teacher Feature: Liz Gallego

Center for Educator Development in Fine Arts proudly presents Dance Teacher Liz Gallego. Liz Gallego teaches at Moises Molina High School in the Dallas Independent School District.

Liz Gallego says,
"My motto related to education is educación sin fronteras. It is a Hispanic expression which means education without limits or without borders. It means to strive for the stars."

Question: How does dance education benefit students?

"When a student comes into a dance class or an art class, they are challenged in ways to observe themselves and others and to collaborate and cooperate and create. I think these are skills that are vital for solving the problems of the next generation."

Question: How does dance education contribute to society?

Liz Gallego says, “The arts are part of our humanity. They are inseparable from who we are.”

"Art is a part of life and life is a part of art. One day I was rummaging through an old bookstore looking for books on the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and I came across a book on aesthetics. It was R.G. Collingwood's Principles of Art. The book talks about the role of the artist on a collective level, not just a personal level. Collingwood says that an artist is the conscience of a society. Artwork is held up as a mirror for us to observe who we are."

Question: Why do you teach dance?

"My grandfather, Jose Amado Garza, encouraged me to dance. It was just fun. But he noticed that I had a natural dance ability and encouraged my parents to enroll me in dance classes. So, when I was four years old I began to build a skill.," says Liz Gallego.

"During the years, I continued to study dance. When I was seven years old, I began to study with Alta Gracia Asios Garcia. She was beautiful and talented, and she was very well respected in our community. She was not the only teacher that I had, though. There were many other people who played important roles such as my art teachers and my dance teachers. Unlike math or science, where you have a teacher for one year, my art teachers were part of my life for three or four years. And many of them have continued to be mentors even today."

"I had many opportunities, during the past thirty years to make career choices. But I have chosen to remain a dance teacher. One, I am a dancer- I view the world through the eyes of an artist. And I feel that I make a vital contribution to the lives of my students and to the community in which I live."

Question: What has been your most rewarding experience as a dance teacher?

"Well I have participated in the lives of so many students. I have some incredibly talented performers and teachers that I've had the privilege of taking part in their lives. But for me, the journey that I have taken through the art has probably been the most rewarding," says Liz Gallego.

"I have learned what it is that I teach. When I came into public schools and went back to the Hispanic barrio, I was able to get my own Mexican cultural heritage. And that has been an important journey that I had not planned to take. It has been a value to me. It has helped me understand my family's history. By learning this history, I saw how the different factors interplayed. Also I healed the relationship with my family and I gained my life's mission."

Question: Why should a young person become a dance teacher?

Liz Gallego says, "To become a teacher, first of all, you must have a passion for your subject. I am passionate about dance. It is how I see the world. I learned about who I am through my art. When a person is passionate, they can communicate with enthusiasm and connect to other people.

But you are dealing with people, so you must be called to deal with the personal challenges that are involved also. You need emotional and physical stamina."

Question: Why is it important to help students connect to their cultural heritages?

Liz Gallego says, "Rote learning and academic theory are not enough to give the perspective that we need to have in order to meet the challenges of this new millennium. To solve the problems of countries getting along with one another, we need to understand our own culture and the role it plays in our lives — in order to be able to understand the role that the culture of another person plays in their lives."

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