An Interview With Francis Pacheco Rivera
By Brittany Lombardi
For this week’s entry, I decided to share the experiences of a good friend of mine, Francis Pacheco Rivera, a native of Puerto Rico. Instead of going to New York or California to gain more knowledge in dance, Francis decided to come to Massachusetts. I could not help but wonder, “What made him want to come to school here?” and “Did his parents support his decision?”
How long had you been dancing in Puerto Rico before studying dance in college? Which styles do you study?
In Puerto Rico, started dancing at age 10. I started as a dancer in tropical rhythms like salsa and cha-cha, plus my country folk rhythms like bomba and plena.
Did your parents always support you dancing? If so, why / why not?
Yes, they always supported me. I remember when I was 8 years old, my dad took me to take martial-arts classes, but a year after, I told my mom I did not want to go. I made it clear that I wanted to dance. She told my father, too. At first he was upset because he had already bought the martial arts uniform, but always wanted me to be happy in what I was doing. Although my mom has been more active in my career as a dancer, my dad has also invested money and taken me to take classes and auditions in Puerto Rico. My parents taught me and my four brothers that the best thing to do is what you like to do. If it is what you enjoy doing and it makes you feel good about yourself, my parents always agreed to help us reach our goals.
Why did you decide to come to Massachusetts to study dance?
I decided to come to Franklin, Massachusetts because I have family here in Massachusetts. My parents and I decided that for this reason it suited me. I also auditioned for the dance program at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Originally I wanted to study in New York, but I firmly believe it was destiny for me to come to this area to better myself as a dancer.
You took the Alvin Ailey intensive last summer, will you possibly be moving to the United States to continue your training and find performance opportunities? Or would you like to take what you've learned in the United States to Puerto Rico?
Yes, I always thought of staying in the United States after graduation. After going to the Ailey intensive, that decision became more certain. One of my dreams is to dance in New York, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. Regarding the second question, I would take all my knowledge to young people who wish to continue to study dance professionally, as I have been doing for some time. There is a lot of fear in risking making it in the dance industry because of pressure from society itself. It is often assumed that dancing is not important, and that makes many talented desires vanish.
As a Puerto Rican dancer, how do you want to make an impact on the dance industry?
As a Puerto Rican dancer, I would like to make an impact on dance schools in Puerto Rico by emphasizing the preparation of teachers. There are many dance schools, but many of them lack proper knowledge. I think Puerto Rico should make a law requiring dance-teacher certification to prevent poor training.