UM Today UM Today University of Manitoba UM Today UM Today UM Today
News from
Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management
UM Today Network
Noel Cruz Venegas leads an outdoor dance class

Dance helps keep instructor connected to his roots

A dance instructor says teaching others has helped him conquer his own fears

April 15, 2024 — 

Noel Cruz Venegas says he is no stranger to the nervousness you can get when starting something new. He says nerves almost got the better of him when starting a new dance class in Mexico City.

“My hands were so sweaty,” says Venegas. “You have no idea how shy I was.”

Venegas, the instructor of the Recreation Services’ bachata class, moved to Mexico City to learn more formally about the bachata style of dance and its cultural history. Born in Oaxaca, Mexico, Venegas says he grew up surrounded by various Afro-Caribbean and Afro-Antillean rhythms at family gatherings and parties and has been dancing all his life.

“My house in Mexico is two hours away from the beach, so I have been exposed to tropical music and dance since I was born,” says Venegas. “I have always taken dance as a way to express my Latino identity.”

Venegas says bachata is a Latin-American social dance, and while his class at UM will teach the basics, its main focus is helping students find their personal style.

“I’m teaching improvisation because life doesn’t have a recipe,” says Venegas. “This class is for students to feel confidence in their bodies and express themselves in a more personalized style.”

Venegas says his confidence from dance has brought him a long way, both in overcoming his shyness and by distance. After travelling to Mexico City in 2017, he came to Winnipeg in 2022 to pursue his master’s in nuclear physics in the Faculty of Physics and Astronomy. He says without his connection to his cultural history through bachata and dance, he wouldn’t have been able to make the move to Canada.

“I love the people and everything in this country,” said Venegas. “But if I had become disconnected from my roots, which are my music and lyrics and the way they help me express myself, I don’t think I would’ve been able to come here.”

The bachata class will have a free class on Thursday, May 2, as part of Recreation Services’ Free Trial Week, which runs from April 29 to May 3. Registration for regular classes, which begin on May 9, is now open.

, , ,

© University of Manitoba • Winnipeg, Manitoba • Canada • R3T 2N2

Emergency: 204-474-9341