Editor’s note: Venue Plus continues “In Case You Didn’t Know,” a weekly feature with fun tidbits about New Mexicans and their projects.
Growing up in the South Valley, Gabriel Carrion-Gonzales learned how to see without rose-colored glasses.
Each day he went to school, he pushed through to make it.
While a student at Navajo Elementary School, the National Dance Institute of New Mexico entered his life.
Through dance is where he found an avenue to succeed.
“This was my first introduction to dance,” he says. “Then after that initial 30-week program, I stayed dancing with NDI. They gave me opportunities to dance across the country.”
Carrion-Gonzales took his dancing skills to the Public Academy for Performing Arts, where he continued to build on his dancing skills.
At 17, he moved to Pennsylvania to go to a conservatory to study.
“That was culture shock to say the least,” he says. “To be out there and get such a high level of training, it was the right decision. I learned to take care of things on my own both professionally and personally.”
Now 25, Carrion-Gonzales continues to give back to the community.
He continues to teach at NDI and is also artistic producer for Dancing Earth.
On Friday, June 17, he is putting together ABQ Vogue Night at the Black Cat Cultural Center, 3011 Monte Vista Blvd. NE.
He says the night will merge vogue, drag, music, categories and community.
“I’ve always wanted to give back to the community and a vogue night is perfect,” he says. “It’s about bringing the community together. It’s open to everyone.”
Carrion-Gonzales says coming from a lower income household, he had to make ends meet.
Dance was always an outlet where he could not only be himself, but inspire other people.
“That’s one of my main missions in life is to continue to represent for people like me,” he says. “When they thought it was not OK, I just continue. I want to create space where people can be themselves authentically. I try to live like this daily and I want others to do the same thing.”
While Carrion-Gonzales aims to make a mark in the New Mexico community, here are a few things you didn’t know about him:
1 “Growing up, I listened to a lot of hip-hop, currently, one of my favorite sub-genres of hip-hop is ‘phonk,’ a style inspired by ’90s Memphis rap and trap music.”
2 “I have been a mentee of the Dance/USA’s Institute for Leadership Training (’20-’21) and David Herrera’s LatinXtensions Mentorship Program (’21-’22) – both of these programs have connected me to national learners in the dance field while refining my goal of uplifting the 2SLGBTQIA+ and QTBIPOC+ communities by providing opportunity, representation and growth.”
3 “I have accepted a contract with the Santa Fe Opera as a dancer for the Opera’s summer programming!”
4 “In November, I will travel out of town with the ABQ local Black Widow Pole Studio to compete in a pole competition hosted by the Pole Sports Organization.”
5 “I am on a self-guided journey of learning skills to be a DJ and have performed for ABQ’s ArtWalk (with) an art installation designed and built by friends titled ‘FLOATIE.’ ”