We looked far and wide for the right person to star in our piece on why Juliet pants are all about “dancing through life”. We knew immediately when we met Rosa Arredondo, a native New Yorker, who trained at the prestigious Ailey School, that we had the right person; she simply sparkled. We asked her how she fell in love with dancing and why it’s changed for her as she’s gotten older.
I’m Rosa Arredondo, and I’m an actress and dancer.
Where are you from?
I’m number five of nine children. My parents are from the Dominican Republic, and I was the first one born in the United States. I grew up in the Bronx and Queens. My older sisters used to call me “gringa” growing up.
When did you start dancing?
I started dancing when I was eight. I wanted to be a ballerina. My parents had no clue about the dance world; they were trying to do more important things like keep food on the table. I used to make my older sister pretend that we were in a ballet company. She was always the guy, and I was the girl. Basically the game consisted of her lifting me. Dance was what I wanted to do, and that’s all I wanted to do. My real professional training started once I got into the scholarship program at The Ailey School right after high school. I had never seen such interesting, beautiful people. I discovered modern dance there, and I realized that I didn’t want to wear pointe shoes. The Alvin Ailey program brings people together from all over the world. I was exposed to so many different kinds of people and this technique. The dancers were so strong.
How has being a dancer impacted your outlook on life?
“Once a dancer, always a dancer,” they say. I feel like I compare everything to dance, but especially the details. Dancers pay attention to where their finger is when they do something with their foot. Dance frames my world, whether it’s counts, musicality, even understanding this relationship of space between me and the person next to me on the train. My husband is a firefighter, and he pays attention to detail too, but for a different reason.
How does dancing make you feel?
Dance is the most freeing thing in the world: that release of energy, that release of feeling in the brain. It’s expression without words. When I started doing a lot of acting, I approached every character like a dancer, because I felt like if I can move you with just movement, without saying a word, then I’ve got it. I love to watch people, especially children who are not dancers dance because there’s a real, sincere joy in people’s faces when they dance. The less technique they have, the less schooling they have, the more free they are because it’s a movement that literally comes out of how they are feeling in the moment. When people dance, they’re happy.
You just danced in our new Juliet Pants all day—how do you feel about them?
When I put the pants on, I used the word “delicious.” They were just delicious. They hug you just enough that you feel a little support, but they’re loose enough that you don’t feel like you are in something binding. I thought, “These are great airplane pants.” When you’re on a plane, you always want to look nice when you travel, but you also want to be comfortable.
As you’ve gotten older, how has your relationship to dance changed?
Your body is a beautiful instrument, and you only get one. You have to take care of yourself. And even if you can do what you used to be able to do, you don’t want to because you’re smarter. You always know the young dancers in the room; when the choreographers ask, “Who can do a backflip?” They go, “Me!” The old dancers are like, “I can do it, but I’m not going to.” I also have a better love and understanding for dance now. I enjoy it so much more now that the pressure of the performance part of it is off. As a result, my performance is actually better because it is coming from a place of love as opposed to a place of, “I have to do six pirouettes” or “I have to get my leg up here.”
Why do you think style is ageless?
I think style is ageless because everybody wants to look good and feel good, regardless. I think about my grandmother at 93 who’d never leave the house without lipstick, and always threw her scarf around her neck. It doesn’t matter how young or how old you are; you want to feel good about the way you look.
What inspires you?
The simplest things like, relationships between people, love between people. The other day, I was at a restaurant and there was a man who came in with his son who was physically challenged. Throughout my entire meal, I just watched these two people. I watched how the man fed his son, and gave him his water, and kept hugging him. In between each morsel of food, he would hug him and kiss him on the head. It was so beautiful, the love and connection between these two people. I think that inspires me above everything else, that interaction between people.
Why are you dancing through life?
Why not? Given the choice to sit it out or dance, why not dance?