WESPAC Dance Center Living In The Moment and Winning!
By J.C. Alan, September 7, 2016

Left to Right: Enrique Torres, Taylor Moore, Jaseida Mojica, Jenna Tower, Christine Mouton,
Kenia Olvera, Kevin Do

I arrived on a Wednesday afternoon at the tiny studio with a big reputation known as WESPAC Dance Center and one of the top hip-hop studios in Southern California. A friendly woman named Sonia is running the front desk and greets me as I walk through the front door. She is the mother of the dance studio owner and has run the studio by her daughter’s side for the past 17 years. Sonia, along with the parents in the waiting room, is still beaming with pride over winning 1st Place Overall at the KAR’s 2016 National Dance Competition.

Shortly after my arrival, each member of the WESPAC Competition Team trickles in the front door along with Jaseida Mojica, the Owner, and Director of WESPAC. Their bond is apparent, yet they are all distinctly unique and different individuals.  I can’t help but wonder what force of nature drew these young teens together.

They came from different schools, upbringings, and cultures yet somehow, as fate would have it, were all led to WESPAC making up the perfect mix of ingredients for a winning team. Jenna Tower stands as a pillar of confidence in formal attire wearing her Ms. California Outstanding Teen banner since she has an engagement right after the interview as one of her many duties she is expected to fulfill as Ms. California Teen. Taylor Moore is casual and friendly, yet shy, with a humble demeanor about her. Enrique Torres, who is the leader of this “PAC”, greets me with a warm, gracious smile while fully taking in the moment and introspectively studying everything around him.
Kevin Do is full of energy and enters the room with his funny-man comments that immediately put the group at ease as they soak up his humor. Kenia Olvera, originally from Mexico and came to the US when she was 10, greets everyone with her quiet manner yet is exuding warmth. And last, but not least, Christine Mouton is an outgoing presence that you automatically feel comfortable around and is likable from the moment you meet her. There is not an ounce of pretentiousness amongst the group. I take them into the studio one-byone to get their side of the story on what brought them together and how they got so far. As I move through their interviews, the commonality between them quickly reveals itself.

You may think I am talking about dance, but there was a much bigger force at play that resulted in winning the 2016 KAR Nationals. What was it you ask? They all wanted to belong to a team, or a family, creating something bigger together. When asked, "How did you feel when you came to WESPAC?" The unanimous answer was they felt like they came home. They said they never felt so much support and acceptance as received when they walked in the door at WESPAC. If you didn't understand a dance move someone would always reach out to help you, and not just the teachers, the other students as well. I must tip my hat off to Jaseida, the owner, as it has been her unwavering belief always to lift up each student that walks into the studio and create a positive nurturing environment. She is not afraid to ask each student, "Do you believe in yourself? Do you believe you can do this? Do you believe anything is possible?" By asking these simple questions and incorporating this into her class teachings, the kids learn that by speaking and affirming their answers out loud; their words start to become their reality. She has seen so many students transform over the past 17 years of running the studio, that although winning the KAR National Competition was a huge career highlight, changing the lives of so many young students is the true reward.

When I asked what was different about this team from teams in the past, she said so many students have the talent, but this particular group had the drive to go above and beyond what was required. They were hungry and would rehearse together outside of the studio at each other’s houses when they were not in class. They also continually sewed into each other and when one was weak, another would make them strong. I asked what she thought the key ingredient was, and she replied simply, “Love and never giving up.” As I continued with the interviews and each of the teens led up to their accounting of the magical day in which they would make history for their studio, I was made aware there were many obstacles they overcame until the moment they stepped on stage. Taylor was overcoming a severe concussion and was almost not cleared to perform by her doctor. Jenna had a scheduling conflict with a pageant, but refused to let her team down, and found a flight that would cut it close but allow her to compete still.

Enrique’s mom was 2 getting released from the hospital at around 3 am that morning due to a serious health scare. Then unexpectedly, Kenia and Taylor were in a four-car accident on their way to the competition. They were not injured but were in shock from the ordeal. Luckily Christine and her dad were nearby to pick them up on the side of the road and get them to the competition in time. When everyone finally arrived at the competition, there was little to no time to rehearse. Before they knew it, it was time to get lined up backstage and wait to go on next. While backstage, the team got into a huddle together which had become a ritual before every performance. I asked what happens in the huddle, and they said they pray, send positive energy to each other, wish each other good luck, and Enrique always leads with words of encouragement for the team. This time, the huddle felt special. They each said when Enrique spoke, they could all feel the power of his words and would never forget them. The words he said were, “No matter what, let’s live in the moment. If you don’t live in the moment, you don’t see what is in front of you. You only see what is behind you, living in the past, which creates doubt, and you can't see what is in front of you.

Let's live in this moment." It was what each of them needed to hear to let go of the craziness of the day and focus on the present. They decided to step out in faith and be thankful for whatever may come. It was their moment; this was their truth, and it was their time. They took the stage and experienced every second to the fullest. Each team member gave everything they had to the performance. What came before or what happened after didn’t matter. Once it was all over, the team exited the stage and collapsed on the floor together. Moments later, Jenna and Enrique were off to fulfill other commitments. For those that remained, it would be hours before the announcement of the winners. The rest of the team didn't mind as they ate together, laughed, and continue to enjoy living in the moments they had together until finally, the wait was over. It was time for the awards. As the judges moved into the final category, they did something out of the ordinary, which at this point was par for the course since this day was anything but ordinary. Instead of announcing the top 15 ranked overall, the judges decided they were only going to call out the top 3 teams that placed. The WESPAC team was a bit disappointed since a hip-hop group usually doesn’t have a chance to win the overall category.

In the past, a more technical piece such as a ballet or lyrical number would win, but they decided to stay and see what happened. When the commentator called the 2nd and 3rd place winners, and when their name wasn’t called, they thought there was no way they would get 1st place. Regardless, they decided to huddle close together, not to let doubt take over, and continue to live in the moment and look forward even though they could not see the outcome. As the commentator was building up the final and most prestigious award for the event, they heard their song playing over the speaker system. Right after came the confirmation announcement. It was the WESPAC Team! They were screaming and jumping up and down with excitement. Enrique was on FaceTime with Kenia and Christine watching on his phone remotely from his other rehearsal. They did it! Congratulations to the WESPAC team not only on the win at nationals but on the early discovery of “living in the moment” and cherishing each experience for the rest of their lives. When I asked Jaseida what was next for the studio, her primary goal is to continue to provide the love and support the kids are seeking while they graduate from the studio and merge into the competitive world of professional dance. She has since started an entertainment management company WESPACDANCE, LLC. This Saturday, September 10th, WESPACDANCE, LLC. Management will be holding auditions seeking new dancers of all ages for their upcoming 2016/2017 Touring Season.

For more information on WESPAC Dance Center and WESPACDANCE, LLC. Visit: Instagram: @wespac_dance / Facebook: @wespacdancellc /
Twitter: @wespac_dance