Discover all the different careers Opportunity Village has to offer with this series of in-depth profession overviews. 

Meet Kristina M., Dance Mentor

In this series of "Day in the Life of ____", we will be highlighting the various professions Opportunity Village has to offer. This feature is focused on the role of Dance Mentor.

What led you to OV/your current position? 

I graduated from Southern University Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 2012 and moved back to Las Vegas that same year. I got a Rehabilitation Services degree and so I was looking for a job related to that field, and then I came across OV. 

I have been working with OV for almost 8 years. I started in Oakey Enable in 2013 as a Day Activity Coordinator and then transferred to the Engelstad campus. Two years later, I transferred to the Job Discovery program as a Job Training Instructor in 2015 and later to the FPA program as a Dance Mentor in 2017.  After work hours, I loved to go to dance classes and perform with friends and local groups throughout the city. At work, my coworkers always caught me bustin’ a move, so eventually they realized I really loved to dance. When the Dance Mentor position became available, they encouraged me to apply and I did! 

What does a typical day look like for you?

Each day can start a little different depending on what classes I am teaching. For example, on Tuesday’s I get to work around 7:30 am and prepare to teach my 8 am class with the FPA morning crew. Thereafter I will work on lesson plans for my afternoon classes and create dry lessons and video plans for the VIA program. Next, I will get up from the computer, warm up my body, work on dance movements and routines for classes and VIA videos, and then do a ballet, contemporary, or hip-hop class on YouTube. After I am, done I will take a break and research different dances around the world, current dance news, dance games, or anything that I can use for class ideas. Then at 2pm, I have dance class and by 3:30pm, I am done. On other days, I will teach a virtual dance class or my afternoon class will be a 3pm. 

What is the most exciting part of your job?

The most exciting part of my job is teaching dance class and performances with the people we serve. I am usually nervous before each class but when it starts, the nerves melt away. When the music is booming, the program participants are dancing & laughing, and we are all having a good time, I forget about how nervous I was prior till.  I love performances because of the process it takes to get to the performance. It is truly awesome to witness how hard our people served work to make sure they are ready to go on stage and how much they grow during the rehearsal process. Finally, when they perform and take that last bow, the crowd goes wild and the pure look of joy and pride on their faces is an indescribable exhilarating feeling. It makes you want to run around and cry all at the same time. 

Who inspires you? 

The inspirations of my life are Jesus Christ aka Yahusha, my daughter, OV program participants, and dance choreographers Keone & Mari Madrid. Jesus Christ aka Yahusha is such a big inspiration to me because he taught love, peace, and patience that I learned to use for my job. I like to use his kind and peaceful principles to my life, which helps me, be positive and helpful to others. My daughter is my newfound reason for breath and life and has changed my outlook on what is important to me. She helps me to be selfless, innovative, and resourceful to make sure I have the tools to make her life awesome. The OV program participants have taught me so much about slowing down and paying attention to the small things. Rejoicing over the steps in the journey rather than the destination. OV program participants puts that statement into real life. Keone and Mari Madrid inspire me because they are such hard working and humble dancers/choreographers. You can tell that dance is equivalent to breath for them and their passion and stories ooze out of their choreography.

What is your favorite thing to do when you're not working? 

My favorite thing to do when I am not working is playing with my daughter, working on a crochet project, practicing on my guitar, praise dancing, or sitting in my back yard reading a book.

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