Karla Mendoza: feelings on the skin

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The art world is simply amazing. It’s a world that looks like a dream and a nightmare, it’s fantasy, it’s unlimited, it’s freshness, passion, harmony, chaos. Within it, one of its most beautiful exponents is dance. Obviously, in every corner of our beautiful planet there are people who are dedicated to it.

This is how we got to know Karla Mendoza.

Karla Mendoza is one of the many members of the dance world. She was born in Mexico City and lives in Berlin, Germany since 2008.

She started dancing when she was 4 years old and is now 30, so he has danced for 26 years.


Becoming a dancer

After talking with Karla, it became clear that dance is her lifestyle of choice. For her, there is nothing more special than connecting her body, mind and all her senses with music, movement and space.

Karla Mendoza © Solkes

She has the opportunity to convey her feelings, tell stories, or transport her self to another world through her movements. She is fascinated that she achieves that with just one instrument, his body.

Every day is a challenge, an inspiration and part of a learning curve. It is a wonderful discipline that prepares you in many ways for life but it is not for every one.

Mendoza assured me that for her, dance has always been a safe place, her relief, the place where she can be a thousand things but always herself, it’s her way of sharing with the world, her best friend and the worst at same time.

Establishing herself as an artist has been a process that, although it has taken its time, has been worth it.

After making the difficult decision to leave her family in Mexico (this decision is never easy), she arrived in Salzburg, Austria. Some time later I arrived in Madrid. And finally to Berlin.

Karla Mendoza © Solkes

But, the story is not as simple as writing three names of European cities impregnated by art.

Karla tells me that she arrived in Austria because after having lived a fraud in Mexico under the promise of taking her to study dance in Cuba and having been emotionally shattered, her parents did not lose faith in her and urged her to continue her dreams.

Her parents gave her an “ultimatum” to realize her life’s dream and dance abroad or choose a university career. Then she started looking for universities, workshops and everything possible that was related to dance.

After sending her entire portfolio, Salzburg was the city that captive it and being a city much smaller than Mexico City, she felt very safe.

Salzburg gave her many opportunities. Not only did she have the opportunity to be taking classes in the same place as great dancers but she developed friendships for a lifetime.

The city gave incomparable friendships and her career and life mentor at many times. Unfortunately, the program had to end unexpectedly. So being miles away from home, having made the best friends, she decided with them (her friends from Serbia, Zyrus and Ireland), that they would look for something new and leave together!

That’s how she arrived at the Carmen Roche School in Madrid. The director of that school received them with open arms, where her love for contemporary dance became stronger, bigger and always accompanies her.


Contemporary and Vertical Dance

Karla Mendoza © Solkes

The dance scene is full of contrasts, techniques, styles and possibilities. Two of these dance styles are: vertical dance and contemporary dance.

Contemporary dance appears as a reaction to classical dance styles, as an alternative to the technique of classical ballet. It is a dance class that seeks to express an idea, a feeling or an emotion.

Contemporary dance can talk about a concept, propose an environment or present movements with the purpose of achieving a certain aesthetic, you don’t always have to tell a story. Look for a connection with the earthly, with the human and his passions.

Vertical dance is a modality of aerial dance in which the choreography is represented using the facade of a building or the stage wall, with the artists hanging on strings.

In Mexico, contemporary dance begins to develop at the end of the 20th century as a result of the conjunction of different dance movements in the country.

Karla Mendoza © Solkes

In the fifties, different scenic proposals such as opera, cancan, eccentric dances, Mexican dances, variety shows, etc. begin to appear

Both dance styles include the use of different dance styles where the dancer has the possibility of expressing himself in a freer way. In both creativity and use of the different levels is used.

However, vertical dance is a branch of aerial dance that creates a great illusion at the moment when the floor is replaced by the wall or surface and the dancer creates a feeling and effect of flying.

The movements and interpreter, thanks to the height, are suspended and create an effect of lightness / less weight. The wall or vertical surface becomes the floor, which causes a change of perspective for both the dancer and the viewer.


Karla and the vertical world

Her story with vertical dance is very curious. She doesn’t remember the exact year, but she thinks it was in 2011, when she took a workshop at the Battle Royale company of vertical dance. At that moment she realized how much she liked it and how special it was.

Karla Mendoza © Solkes

In 2012, she auditioned for the Palazzo Show in Berlin and the choreographer and project director wanted to have her at the show. It is a pity, that the show is meant for sitting spectators and even if Karla would have used heels show wouldn’t be taller than the people in the audience ( she is 1.52 cm tall), so, she didn’t get the job.

In any case, at the end of 2013, she received a call from Anett Simmen, the choreographer from the Palazzo Show. Simmen let her know that she had kept her resume and hadn’t forgotten about her. Then, at the beginning of 2014 they got together and were successful in working on the piece, for a very long time Simmen had wanted to create a vertical dance piece.

Solkes: When did you do your first choreographies in vertical dance, what did you feel or still feel?

Karla Mendoza © Solkes

Karla Mendoza: Over time I gradually feel freer every time I do a vertical choreography. At first, if I haven’t been constant with the training, it is difficult for the body and for the mind.

To cross the barriers that you indirectly get influenced by the fear, the height, change of material of the wall or the flight you have (because all that influences the length of the rope, that you fly so much, impulse to make jumps, fall, flight time for laps that etc, etc.) is always an issue. But as soon as you overcome that, you know exactly what the choreography his going to be like and your body gets used to it you begin to have a feeling of freedom and wonderful lightness while you fly.

The first time I was definitely a little scared, since my first choreography was in a Spreadbar where the jumps, volary fall I had to turn a lot and that for me has always been a theme.


Teaching dance

Besides being a dancer, Karla teaches dance. Process that is not easy. She assures me that dedicating herself to teaching dance is like all kinds of teaching, it is a huge commitment. One has to be prepared and willing to give 100% every day, because you are working apart from everything with the human body, some mistake could cause some serious damage or accident.

Likewise, for her, dance is an incredible discipline and being able to share and transmit it is an honor.

Karla Mendoza © Solkes

Solkes: Why do you teach dance?

Karla Mendoza: I dedicate myself to giving dance classes to children from the year and a half accompanied by their parents to adults who either as children danced or just start from scratch. The most gratifying thing for me is to see that the children, parents and everyone they taught come with pleasure to my classes and to see all the advances and learning that each of them does as well as my own.

There is nothing more rewarding than watching a child run from the door of the school shouting my name and excited to get to dance as well as my own daughter wanting to accompany me to dance.

During the week, it has several activities, maintains a busy pace. Karla can teach about 13 classes in a normal week, train two fixed 4-hour days in Potsdam with the VoLA Stageart company. But, if there is a project then train more times or hours a week. In addition, she trains a day by herself and if during the week there is a possibility of doing a workshop or extra class and manages to organize schedules, personal life and everything tries to attend.

She teaches dance in two fixed places in Berlin. One of them is in Charlottenburg “Ballet School Carola Vogl” and Prenzlauer berg in a small place called “Wunderhaus” and also at a Kita.

She plans on what new steps or choreographies she want to start teaching, and depending on these is the breakdown of each class, so based on that, she develops what will be taught during class.

According to her, in the professional field there are many people who inspire and motivate her. There are so many professional dancers who have been an inspiration throughout their lives and thanks to their existence and example is that I find myself doing what I do.

Personally, her parents have always been the greatest inspiration, both very hardworking and above all always fighting for each one of her brothers or her to maintain their being, following their dreams and goals without judging or stopping their development and always always supporting each of the steps you have taken.

She teaches dance because she likes to transmit and share what dance makes her feel and especially what she has taught her in every moment of her life.

Dance is not just movement, it is a form of expression, it is a discipline, it is coordination, it is musicality, it is learning to share, fight, work in a team and much more. It is a whole teaching and when giving classes she feels rewarded and proud to be able to share this with other people.


The evolution

As expected, Karla had to evolve as an artist and personally. And, that is exactly what happened. Over time she became a mother and Tamara came into the world.

Solkes: Is it difficult to combine dance with motherhood?

Karla Mendoza: It is a question with which I am constantly in conflict. It is harder when I see in social media all of my dance idols  handling it so “simple”. It is difficult not to make comparisons, specially with all the input one receives through social media. The time investment in rehearsals, classes and preparation of all this is, when you are a mother, that means less time with your child and that makes it difficult when you realize how fast time goes by and the things that you get lost because of it.

Karla considers herself a strong, independent and energetic woman, but before having Tamara she imagined everything easier.

She is fortunate to be independent, to be able to organize her schedule in the best possible way, but still they end up sacrificing some things.

Likewise, her daughter, Tamara is an ideal companion since she tags along with her mother to rehearsals, classes, trainings and even workshops.


The power of feelings

Karla considers art very important because it is, in any of its branches, a wonderful form of expression and creativity. Art allows a sensitivity and vision to develop that is not easy to develop on the other hand.

Solkes: What is the most difficult thing to do in dance?

Karla Mendoza: Just as each person sees things differently, within the dance everyone lives differently. Personally, the things that I would consider more difficult would be the constant pressure to achieve perfection, the struggle with the physical (aesthetic and general speaking of elasticity, etc.), frustration, competition, and the decision to leave your personal life in background in many moments for discipline. In my case, for example, at 18 I left Mexico and my family to achieve my dreams and goals.

What she wants to achieve the most is to continue transmitting her love for dance, whether as a hobby, profession, vocation or as a way to stay active.

Karla Mendoza © Solkes

Karla wants to continue sharing that happiness and taste for dancing, in a dance studio as well as on stage.

She has a long way to go, but one of her biggest goals is that whatever happens, never lose her connection to dance, continue teaching, be on stage, behind or in front of it.

What she loves is that at the moment when the music or movements begin, no matter what happens around or inside it, everything becomes dance. A feeling of honor invades her when she thinks that she is dedicated to her great passion, to what she trully loves.

There are many feelings she feels when dancing. All together: happiness, nerves, pride, love. But, the purest truth is that Karla Mendoza is a woman, Latina, dancer, citizen of the world and mother. Her heart fills when she sees her daughter, her soul breathes by letting her body speak for her. Karla Mendoza wears feelings on her skin.

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