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Meet Gina Ligi, the Dancing Queen

She’s got grace, charm and dancing skills that can wow any audience. Meet Gina, the OG Dancing Queen!


HCCP: When did you first start dancing? Where were you taking classes? Do you have any specific memories/competitions/dances you still remember?

I started taking class when I was just two and a half at San Diego Dance Centre in Carmel Mountain. I began with a Tinytot ballet and tap class once or twice a week. My mom saw my enjoyment and began to put me in more and more classes, and by age 5 I was on stage competing for a trophy.

HCCP: What was your timeline of dancing (how did your involvement progress)? When did you start taking it more seriously?

By age nine, I really wanted to improve. Most of the older girls I looked up to were in ballet classes at a nearby ballet school. Teachers had always told me that ballet was the foundation of all dance technique and recommended my mom to check it out if I was serious about improving.

I would say that was when I started valuing my performance at competitions and events and was dedicated about improving my skills. They were right– with ballet classes my skills did improve exponentially, and I began getting noticed as a force to be reckoned with at dance competitions, even among the girls who were consistent winners.

I transferred to Westview for high school to be on their nationally top ranked dance team. At Westview we had football season where wed do halftimes, perfect the 6 competition dances we had learn over summer, then prepare for our winter show, make it through the crazy comp season, and then prepare for our spring concert in may. I was chosen to compete in every competition dance each year and selected as captain both my junior and senior years of team. At this point I was also travelling to 10-15 dance competitions a year.

HCCP: What is the dance culture like? How are the families, dancers, teachers?

To some, the dance culture may seem borderline insane, where young kids are in full makeup, crop tops and mini shorts all adorned in rhinestones. The idea does seem crazy, but at 8 years old I was doing the exact same thing. Some dance moms are insane, and give the industry a bad rep. I can say for a fact my mom is a stage mom, but in the best of ways. She will do anything to make sure I’m fully prepared to perform at the best of my abilities: Taking me to designers and fittings for costumes, spending oodles on rhinestones, and getting me in with the best teachers for choreography and private rehearsals. Dance was my life growing up, and when your family is as committed as mine is with two daughters involved, most of our dinner conversations revolve around dance.


HCCP: What are some things you love about dance? Lessons you’ve learned? Memorable people you’ve met? Favorite memories?

I love that it’s a way that I can express myself, but also express a character as well. As a dancer, you’re a performer and playing a role most of the time. Being able to share my passion with the audience is truly an incredible feeling. I’ve learned along the way that dance is a very individual and self-motivated sport– It’s always up to you on how badly you want it. When teachers see that drive, they chose to fully invest in you. I’ve also learned how subjective the sport is, with new judges scoring you with paper and pen on everything from your outfit to your choreography. Shannon Parker, my high school coach and one of my mentors, always told me that it doesn’t matter what I do out there, but it matters how I make my audience feel.

HCCP: Could you explain a little about the Nationals that you won?

My junior year, I competed for the title of Super Dancer at USA Nationals 2012 in Anaheim and won with my lyrical solo to Etta James’ “At Last.” I had to compete twice, once for prelims and again for finals in Top 10. I can recall being in such a state of elation dancing in Top 10, and being so nervous during awards. All I could do was cry when they announced I had won!

My senior year I competed with a few different solos, which was stressful because not one seemed to click with the judges. “Spectrum” by Florence became the song powerful enough to compliment my skills and impact the judges so I stuck with it, working overtime to make it the best it could be. I embodied the intensity of Florence herself, and added a bit of my own flair to it. I performed the dance three times: prelims, top 10, and top 5. With each performance I became more and more relaxed surprisingly. During awards I was in such a state of shock… It truly was the most surreal experience ever–I couldn’t stop crying for about an hour.

HCCP: What does it feel like when you’re performing? Do you get nervous? 

It depends on what I’m performing, but I do still get nervous. It’s a different kind of nervous than when iIwas younger– it’s more of an excited anxious feeling. I love the rush I get under the stage lights, there’s nothing like it!


HCCP: How are you involved with dance at Cal Poly?

I am currently a dance minor and have taken many classes and masterclasses! I also was on dance team my Freshman year. Last year, I performed in Orchesis as well.

HCCP: What are your future plans for dancing?

I plan to continue to choreograph, on a larger scale of course, My absolute dream is to become an NFL cheerleader, and open up a training facility for the dance industry. Dance will always be a part of my life– Without it I wouldn’t be me!
































Frances is a third year currently studying Journalism and French at Cal Poly SLO. She hails from the Bay Area where you can usually find her in her local Philz, chugging a caffeinated drink. She is a firm proponent of boybands, rain, Shonda Rhimes shows and the occasional In N' Out run.
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