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BLANK CANVAS: Mexican dancer Fabiola Gascon on becoming adaptable

Gascon is the founder of Tapatia Collective dance school in Nelson
Mexico’s Fabiola Gascon is the founder of Tapatia Collective in Nelson. Photo: Submitted

by Sydney Black

Hello arts lovers!

This month I had the pleasure of speaking with Fabiola Gascon, who is the founder of Tapatia Collective, a local dance school.

Gascon is a professional dancer and performer hailing from Guadalajara, Mexico, who embarked on her journey into the world of movement at a young age. Initially drawn to gymnastics, she later discovered her passion for dance, delving into various disciplines such as Jazz, Contemporary, Ballet, and Capoeira, the latter proving pivotal in her training. We are so fortunate to have her in the community and I was excited to learn more about why she has chosen to create in a rural setting.

What’s your background/training/story as a performer?

My journey as a performer began with my boundless energy as a hyperactive child, prompting my parents to enrol me in a variety of extracurricular activities such as gymnastics, jazz, marathons, martial arts and various other dance styles.

However, the turning point came when I met Zuleyma Ortiz Duron (Zuly) at the age of 14. Zuly not only became my jazz dance teacher but also my mentor and guide. She introduced me to contemporary dance during a festival in Guadalajara, sparking my passion and shaping my career aspirations.

With guidance from Zuly and other instructors, I delved into specialized training, focusing on ballet, contemporary, and jazz alongside my high school studies. Through dedication and mentorship, I gradually established myself as a dancer, teaching and performing in my hometown. While pursuing a Performing Arts Degree for Dance Expression in Guadalajara, I discovered my love for Vancouver during a summer vacation in 2016, prompting my decision to make Canada my permanent home.

Why did you end up in Nelson?

My passion for nature drove me to consider career options beyond dance. While researching programs, I initially found the Recreation, Wildlife, and Fish program at a college in Vancouver. However, having been away from the city for some time, I preferred not to return there. During a Google search, Selkirk College emerged as an option. Despite my lack of knowledge about the Kootenays, including its location, I decided to embark on this adventure.

What keeps you here?

Nelson embodies the perfect fusion of my dual passions, complemented by its vibrant community where people genuinely care for each other. After taking a break from my dance career to focus on learning English, Nelson offered the perfect setting to pick up where I left off in Mexico. Here, I not only flourished as a dancer but also emerged as a prominent artist, signifying a major milestone in my personal and professional journey.

How did you score your biggest professional gig?

It required hard work and perseverance. As a dancer, I had to audition repeatedly and go through several rounds of auditions to secure roles in major shows in Mexico.

In Canada, establishing my own dance school was another significant achievement. It provided a platform for people to come together, learn, and enjoy themselves. Balancing school and dance was challenging, but seeing the progress of my students, witnessing their growth and passion, made it all worthwhile. It was a journey fuelled by dedication and love for dance.

Any hot tips for people who want to live rurally but be a professional performer?

If you’re seeking something specific that isn’t yet present in your community, don’t be discouraged. Take the initiative to create it yourself. Connect with like-minded individuals who share your passions; you don’t have to embark on this journey alone. Collaboration with other artists is key to fostering community involvement and making your vision a reality.

Adjust to the requirements and desires of your community. What succeeds in urban environments might not necessarily appeal to rural ones. Embrace the community’s current dynamics as you familiarize yourself with them, then seek chances to incorporate your own viewpoints.

Continuously learn and expand your skill set. Adaptability stems from exploring various styles and techniques, as well as personal growth. Many skills are transferable across different professions. Broaden your horizons and seize opportunities for growth, whether through travel, performances or learning experiences.

Keep seeking opportunities to travel, perform, and learn, regardless of your rural location. Don’t limit yourself to local opportunities; be open to traveling for professional engagements.

Persistence is paramount in pursuing a professional performing career in a rural setting. Building a reputation and establishing yourself may take time, but with perseverance and dedication, your goals can be achieved.

Any new projects that you have in the works?

Join us for our monthly Fiesta Latina at Finley’s! The next event is on April 13. To stay updated on Tapatia Collective’s activities, visit our website at

Sydney Black is executive director of the Nelson and District Arts Council. Blank Canvas appears monthly.