SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - In the spotlight as one of the shining ambassadors for Santa Barbara's most historic event, Old Spanish Days, the 2020 Spirit of Fiesta 18-year-old Alena Velasco embraces the honor with "my heart and soul."
She has the most prestigious dance role for the 96th Old Spanish Days.
Velasco is the first Spirit of Fiesta to come from Lompoc.
She has practiced for years at the Laura Garcia Dance studio.
"Everyone in my studio loves it, they can't wait for Fiesta. It is a bummer about this year. I think me being here and me being the spirit really lifted everyone up," she said at a recent workout.
The excitement of dance came early on, when she was four years old. As she learned dances and won competitions her love for performing grew. "I just got into it. It was just so fun, the whole experience picking out my own dress, the colors, the music, the shoes," she said.
Five years ago after some high school dance classes in hip hop and jazz, "the spark went off again. It was something new and exciting and I got back into Flamenco."
This year's dances are "a mix of modern and traditional flamenco. The dances I am learning are more Flamenco. They are different which is fitting because it is a different year."
In between rehearsals, she teaches dance and plans to go to Hancock College for cosmetology.
Already there have been televised pre-Fiesta shows where her two showcase dances have been aired. There have been no big crowds or gatherings due to COVID-19 rules.
"It doesn't have to be 3000 people it can be three people. I will since dance my heart out," she said.
Velasco says she embraces her role to bring the history of Fiesta to life and helping the community overcome a year of challenges to celebrate its deepest tradition, Old Spanish Days.
For more information go to : Old Spanish Days