You Can’t Stop Gabriela

As she gracefully transitioned from move to move to Bebe Rexha’s song “You Can’t Stop the Girl”, it dawned on the audience that nobody could really stop Gabriela that evening. The seventh-grader not only won the Season 9 Battle of the Teal “Best in Show” award but was also a winner in her Middle Division: Performing Arts category. Her “placing”, i.e. precise positioning, particularly the feet, and hands, in relation to each other and to the space around them, has also led her to win other dance competitions like Showstopper.

For Gabriela, dancing is a labor of love. It is visible in her eyes and the way she carries herself on stage. Not surprisingly, dance has been her passion since her first dance class. It has always been something that lifts her spirit.


What is it in dance that makes Gabriela so happy?


Dance is more to Gabriela than a sequence of physical movements. When she dances she imbibes the lyrics of the song and they are reflected in her body transitions. It is as if she expresses the lyrics in the best possible manner she can through her movements on stage. Each movement symbolizes deep feelings and represents how she relates to the wordings of the song. Thus, dancing, to her, is an art form of indirect expression of the background song that she really enjoys enacting.

To her, it’s not just a movement. Dance can allow the dancer to interpret the lyrics of a song in a unique way. One of the things she loves about dance is that one does not have to be direct. Dancers can just tell their story through the feelings of the movements.

Gabriela performing her dance routine on stage.
Gabriela performing her dance routine on stage. Image: Courtesy of Gabriela Casco.

How did she grow her passion in COVID?


Understandably, Gabriela used to look forward to her dance classes, but that was not possible when COVID hit. Many dance studios, including that which Gabriela attended, had to remain closed. That is when she found new avenues to grow her dance passion through the world of social media.

Tiktok was the perfect platform for her to post her dancing videos and share them with her friends and mom. Thus her audience and their feedback grew as she continued to learn. She did not stop there. YouTube became a means of watching others and continuously learning new skills and techniques.

Even though she could not go to dance classes, social media allowed her not only to remain active and dancing while not in the studio, but also to learn in new ways. It was her passion for dance that allowed her to overcome all the barriers. She found ways to work around the restrictions during the pandemic years. COVID could not stop the girl!


What is Gabriela busy with at present?


Fast forward to today, Gabriela is back in the dance studio, surrounded by familiar faces of her teachers and peers. She works hard training in and out of the studio. She was in nine classes this year and presently goes to the studio four times a week.


What are future plans for Gabriela?


The love for dancing compels Gabriela to want to share what makes her happy, by teaching this art form to others in a studio of her own. That is one of the ways she wants to impact her community and the world.

To her, this art form can impact the community because it affects the dancer’s emotions when they identify with the song. This can spark creativity in people all around the world.


To view Gabriela’s winning performance go to: Battle of the Teal Online Gallery – S9 AWARDEES (


Read more art-related stories on our Zealousness blog Battle of the Teal_FS – iN Education Inc. (



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