Hancock Dance Team Performs at Chicago Fire’s Hispanic Heritage Night
Javier Diaz along with Shai Huerta have shared their experience of preparing for their dance performance at Soldier field. They both had to face challenges with music setups along the way.
By: Abigail Almonaci October 17, 2023
Javier Diaz (in the middle with grey shorts) is posing with his dance team at Soldier Field during Chicago Fire’s Hispanic Heritage event. September 23, 2023
Coach Javier and Shai are part of the dance team called ProdiG. ProdiG had the opportunity to perform at Soldier Field for Chicago Fire’s Hispanic Heritage Night. ProdiG prepared a set of folkloric dances since the event was celebrating Hispanic culture.
Javier Diaz is a dance coach at Hancock College Prep. He has been coaching the dance team for seven years. He had to make sure costumes, bus reservations, and music were ready. Coach Javi faced challenges with planning the music with Soldier Field.
“So I had to e-mail the music to them and then they asked me to download it on a computer. Then, they asked me to download it on a USB. Just today before the performance, they asked me to bring my own computer. So it's a little stressful and challenging, but we still manage.”
Shai Huerta, 17 years old, is a senior at Hancock College Prep. The dance team has brought tons of joy to Shai as she has been committed to it for 3 years. Shai had a role to prepare a mix of all the songs the team used for their dances. She felt frustration as she had to make last minute changes with the mix.
“I would have it done and then our dance teacher would be like you need to change this, this and this. So I would feel the pressure,” Shai said.
A recent study by Kimerer L. LaMothe from Psychology Today titled “Why Dancing is Good for You” established reasons as to why dancing can benefit one’s physical and mental health. The study showed how dancing releases “happy chemicals” in your brain such as endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and more; in other words, dancing makes people feel more alive. These “happy chemicals” also help people tolerate fear, frustration, and pain better. Dance has been able to help ProdiG stay calm and collected during preparation.
Whenever Shai and Coach Javi dealt with stress and worries before performances, they both would listen to music. Coach Javi said, “I try not to think or stress about the situation too much. So I just play music and I start dancing to it. If we mess up, we learn and we laugh. It’s an experience that we will never forget just because this is something that will help the team grow in the future.”
After they performed, Coach Javi was able to share some of his thoughts.
“I think it was an amazing experience for the team to be able to perform in a stadium like Soldier Field. I feel like it could have been a little more organized, but for the most part everything was fine.”
ProdiG recently had another performance on October 12, 2023. It was held at Hancock’s blackbox theater to wrap up the end of Hispanic Heritage Month.
Every performance leaves Coach Javi proud and motivated.
“That adrenaline that you get when you are about to perform, when you hear the music, when you hear your name, ‘Here is ProdiG!’ and your nervousness just goes away and then you just give your full out. Seeing my team perform is just what makes me happy and motivated,” Coach Javi said.
Abigail Almonaci is a member of ProdiG.
This was written in Hancock’s Journalism class for the school newspaper, The Signature