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Dancing was alternative to surgery Nohely Mendoza | Sat, Feb 26 2011 12:00 PM

When doctors noticed that Gaby Munoz, 19, had been born pigeon-toed, they suggested two options: undergo surgery or take ballet classes.

Her mother chose sending Munoz to ballet classes. Lucky for them, Neisha's Dance Academy had just opened up near their apartment in Terra Nova.

Since then the Bonita Vista High School graduate's passion for dance has grown and these days it's one of her main priorities in life.

The Southwestern College student spends around 25 hours a week dancing in addition to juggling her academic studies as a teacher and a student.

The struggle to succeed as a professional dancer is a daunting one but her love for dance keeps her motivated.

"I love dancing to the rhythm of music, it relieves stress and it's like a personal therapy for me, every single emotion has a dance that I can interpret from," Munoz said.

Currently she teaches dance classes at Neisha's Dance Academy and dances in a non-profit dance company called Unity Dance Ensemble.

As a teacher at Neisha's, Munoz must choreograph hip-hop dances for kids ranging from 6 to 14 years old, she must also find age appropriate music, design costumes and create the overall vision of the performance.

Currently, she is working on a recital with the kids which will be showcased in downtown San Diego.

Munoz has worked with people such as Chris Jones who was one of the lead actors in the movie "You Got Served."

Jones choreographed a dance for her team which they performed at the House of Blues in Hollywood and choreographers Tyce Diorio and Nia Michaels from the show "So You Think You Can Dance?" Mu–oz has also traveled to Las Vegas, Nev.; Orlando, Fla.; Los Angeles, San Francisco and Santa Clara to compete in her Unity Dance Ensemble.

"Everyone has always known me as a dancer, it's my way of expression, it's a way to deal with daily life issues or the way I feel, it helps me express it any way I want, and having people (the audience) feel that same emotion too through my dancing and maybe experience what its like to go though a certain phase in life," said Mu–oz.

Munoz dances hip-hop, jazz, jazz funk, lyrical, contemporary, ballet, tap and modern but her favorite so far is a fusion of hip-hop and jazz funk.

If professional dancing does not work out in the future for Munoz, she is still studying to become a math teacher for high school students, but would still like to teach dance on the side.

For now, Munoz has three major showcases coming up in June, September and December for her Unity Dance Ensemble.

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