Perspective: Mentorship Interview with Mentee Grant Gonzalez

Name: Grant Gonzalez
Age: 18
Where are you from? Westminster, Colorado
Who is your PointePeople Mentor? Rena Butler

What made you want to be a part of this program? 
I was really attracted to the PointePeople Mentorship Program because of the opportunities that came with the mentorship. I was extremely excited to have the chance to work one-on-one with my mentor, Rena Butler, and also to get the chance to be integrated into the community that comes from being a mentee. All of the other mentees are extremely kind and generous individuals, not to mention that they are also very gritty and have strong work ethics. It has been such a pleasure to take master classes with them. I hope that we will be able to maintain the connections that we are cultivating right now even after the program has ended.

Why did you want to work with your particular mentor?
Adding on to the last question, I really wanted to work with Rena because I felt like there was so much knowledge that I could learn from her as an individual and an artist. The conversations that I've had with her so far have been nothing short of awe-inspiring, and I cannot wait to see how I grow under her guidance. I was elated when I saw that she was one of the mentors for the program because she is such an inspirational figure. Her works speak for themselves in how they represent the essence of humanity, and I really feel like she is shaping the future of contemporary choreography. Not only does she inspire me through the works that she's created, but her confidence and poise as well as her genuine and warmhearted nature really demonstrate what it means to be a leader (at least in my opinion). At the end of the day, I really wanted to work with Rena because I knew that she would be able to provide me with the guidance I have been searching for as I continue to take my next steps as an artist and as an individual.

What has been your favorite part of the program, so far?
My favorite part of the program so far has been the master classes that we've had on the weekends. Being able to come together with the other mentees to participate in the art form that we love is such a surreal experience. I have been so grateful for the chance to work with the other mentors in the program, as well.

Grant Gonzalez, Mentee
Grant Gonzalez

Is there anything unexpected you’ve learned or experienced through the program, so far?
The most unexpected thing that I have seen so far is the fearlessness from the other mentees. They've really inspired me. They are all so eager to learn and grow and are so passionate about our art form. I have always been slightly self-conscious of my technique because I didn't start dancing until I was thirteen years old; I've always felt like I've been two steps behind my peers. Suffice it to say, the other mentees are unafraid of taking risks and unfazed by making mistakes. You can tell that they see each misstep as a way to learn and grow. I have really been inspired by their resilience.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received from your mentor?
The best advice that I have received from Rena, so far, has been to embrace all the parts of myself that make me unique, even when I am still figuring out who I am. She's helped me realize that it's okay to still be discovering different parts of yourself since we're constantly growing and changing. I've always struggled with finding a balance between the masculine and feminine sides of my personality. I am openly gay, and I came out my freshman year of high school, but it has still taken me so long to embrace the different parts of who I am. It really takes a while to learn to live being unapologetically true to yourself. Even when you do learn how to embrace your individuality, you will always have days where you struggle with who you are. Rena's advice has allowed me to see that it is okay to not be okay in the sense of knowing what your identity is. Furthermore, she has helped me realize that you need to embrace the days where you feel slightly lost, just as much as the days where you feel found. By doing so, you will continue to evolve.

What would you tell anyone who is considering applying to be a mentee in the future?
I'd tell anyone who is considering applying to the program in the future to really take the leap, and go for it! I was terrified to submit my application to the program, so much so that I almost missed the deadline. If this program is something that you're really interested in being a part of, then you will not regret applying. The opportunities that you will receive are life-changing, and even if you're not selected for the program, you can still reach out to the individual you would have liked to be mentored by. Applying in the first place can definitely start a connection that could lead to a conversation with that individual and potentially some coaching or words of advice. It really comes down to you taking the first step by applying for the program. It may seem really daunting, but it is definitely worth the risk.

How is this program helping you to grow as an artist and dancer?
This program is helping me grow in a countless number of ways. As an artist, I am starting to come into my own by exploring my style and point of view. It takes a long time to really figure out who you are as a performer and an artist, so I am very grateful for the opportunity to begin fostering my path into my own. Being able to work with Rena is also allowing me to explore sides of my artistry that I have not had the chance to as a result of some of the constraints created by the classical ballet world. This experience is priceless. Dance is, in its simplest form, a means of expression: expression of all things human. Being able to look into my roots as an individual is really eye-opening. Adding to that, because of the master classes I've been taking through the program, my technique as a dancer has been steadily improving. I have been able to fine-tune details that I hadn't noticed before as a result of having new sets of eyes watch me dance. Every teacher has different nuances that they focus on in their classes, so I have been exposed to new methods of thought when approaching my technique. All in all, in a short period of time, I have definitely seen growth in myself as an artist and as a dancer.
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