by Natalia Luna
“Zoom” is a representation of the daily life of a student during the 2020 pandemic. The students in the piece were Lamar Dance Company members from the 2020-2021 school year. The Lamar Dance Company is an audition-only performance-based dance company for 7th and 8th grade students from Lamar Middle School and Fine Arts Academy. The piece was choreographed by Lamar Middle School Dance Director Natalia Luna, and UTeach student teacher Sam Rosas-Mantilla, also featured in the piece.
Within the piece, Luna and Rosas-Mantilla wanted to show the difficulties of virtual classes, motivation, and isolation during the pandemic. Students were asked to wear pajamas during the piece and to dance in their living rooms and hallways. The piece represents how chaotic students’ daily lives were during the pandemic and how isolating it felt to be dancing alone while dancing together.
Natalia Luna is the current Director of Dance at the Lamar Middle School and Fine Arts Academy and the Director of the Lamar Dance Company. Mrs. Luna has a Bachelor of Arts in Musical Theatre Direction from San Francisco University and has been teaching dance and theatre for over 20 years throughout the Austin area and in San Francisco, California. Mrs. Luna has been teaching with the Austin Independent School District at Lamar Middle School and Fine Arts Academy for 6 years where she has choreographed several pieces for the dance department, including genres such as ballet, jazz, modern, tap, hip hop, latin jazz, and contemporary. Mrs Luna is currently the AISD Middle School Dance Director liaison, a UTeach cooperating teacher, and is part of the AISD new teacher mentoring program. She is very excited to have one of her pieces featured in QT Voices.
Sam Rosas-Mantilla’s experience as a dance educator spans both studio and public school settings, multiple dance genres, and includes curriculum design and implementation. While at the University of Texas at Austin under Dr. Tina Curran’s mentorship, she created and led dance classes and experiences for students ages 11-18. For her student teaching placement with the Austin Independent School District, Sam worked with the Dance Departments at Lamar Middle School Fine Arts Academy and McCallum High School Fine Arts Academy. She also served as a guest choreographer for advanced and company dancers at Lamar and ballet students at McCallum for their spring 2021 performances.
Sam holds a Bachelor of Fine of Arts in Dance Studies with a concentration in Education and a Minor in Educational Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin, and is a Texas Education Agency certified K-12 Dance Educator. She has also worked as a Residential Counselor at American Ballet Theatre’s UT Austin Summer Intensive in 2018, and Boston Ballet School’s Summer Dance Program in 2019 and 2021 as a Senior Residential Counselor. At the University of Texas at Austin, Sam trained in a plethora of contemporary dance styles under Charles O. Anderson, Erica Gionfriddo, and Gesel Mason, and performed with the University of Texas at Austin’s award-winning ensemble Dance Repertory Theatre.