ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Kristin Santiago
Kristin Santiago is an artist that moves with grace, patience, and respect— this last being amongst the most important and distinguishable qualities that she holds within her artistry. A transplant from the East Coast, she has come to Los Angeles to challenge herself artistically and personally. Perhaps the most courageous of the three, she has fearlessly shared herself with the world.
When she first came to Los Angeles alongside her fiancé and fellow dancer, her hope had been to find her way into the industry. However, existing in LA for only a few months caused her quickly to reconsider her hopes as she gained access to the inside of Hollywood— the Hollywood that most of LA is familiar with, the one rife with competition, hardship, and disingenuous actions. Of course, the industry is cutthroat. It is one in which you will gain allies and friends, but one that, ultimately, makes it understandable why the afore mentioned issues exist. In the industry, you are there to get your turn in the spotlight; to get there often means to beat friends to it. Because of the nature of the environment, it can be difficult to separate relations for relations sake and the honesty involved in such relationships, with relationships that exist only for a means to an end, as opportunities to move up and farther than one currently is.
Kristin was able to discern this quickly. But it created another problem— she was in love with dance! She was in love with dancing and dancing for dance’s sake. What was she to do?
Ruminating on it deeply, she realized that she was not going to run from Hollywood, but she certainly wasn’t going to abide by the rules of Hollywood either. She had decided, instead, to rewrite the rules.
At this point and time, she is a dance instructor teaching through Los Angeles County and Orange County. She has recently married her partner and the two of them are existing in the beautiful in-between of the honeymoon and the future family building, a next-step of which both are excited for. In the meantime, the two are empire building.
A simple glance at any of the modes of Kristin’s social presence will show the way in which she’s stepped up and claimed herself. She trains multiple dance teams, she is a part of Culture Shock Los Angeles, and she regularly drops freestyles, concept videos, and dance performances and showcases. As mentioned in the beginning, she is fearless with her expression, fearless in sharing it, and fearless in staying true to herself. She has taught me and Nikki, in so many ways, to trust our own processes, to produce, and to push out as “the universe will take care of the rest.”
Even as she produces at a high capacity, she remains questioning of her own endeavors, consistently asking about their meaning, potency, and correct-ness. Was she serving history? Was she paying testimony? Was the work representative of something good and well?
One of the distinct qualities of the LA street dance scene is the ferocity in which it defends its history. Of course, there remains a divide between mentalities (a healthy divide in my opinion, one that can foster great discussion and thought), but despite the gap, the community that reveres its foundation remains sizeable. Though Kristin toes the line between choreography and freestyle, or, to some, new school mentality and old school mentality, she remains wholly aware of the division and the pain, frustration, and argument that has formed as a result of it. Because of this, she moves thoughtfully, considering all her steps and how it affects, harms, and uplifts those around her.
As Gunita moves forward with their birthing of creations, Kristin has listened, open ears and with open mind as thoughts of decolonization, diaspora, and indigenization are discussed. On her own journey through identity, she welcomes all comments, ruminates upon them, and considers the ways in which she can self improve, the ways in which she can be a stronger vessel, and the ways in which she can honor and uplift those around her.
A blessing to work with, Kristin adds gently to the sister dynamic, learning and teaching the ways in which we exist for and beside one another. With PI3 and Gunita, she hopes to inspire community and the many generations that we can positively influence in the process.