Denise’s mother Mrs.Hernandez holds small pink ballet flats tightly in her hands as Denise describes her earliest dance memory. She describes feeling the warmth inside when she nailed her first routine. At that moment she knew she wanted this to be a part of the rest of her life.
Denise Hernandez is a 5-ft 4-inch ,brown straight-haired , Dominican and Cuban college student from Paterson, New Jersey. People around her describe her as fun, light hearted, and a bit shy, yet there is one thing that makes her come out of her shell — her talent. Hernandez has been in dance class since she could walk and has not stopped.
“I’ve been dancing since the age of one, started dance class when I was two, and I’ve dancing ever since,” said Hernandez. Saint Peter’s students mostly know her as the dance team captain. One of the events on campus that draws the biggest crowds are the basketball games. During most of the games’ halftimes, the dance team is front and center ready to perform.
“When I was younger for me it was all about basketball and for my sister it was all about dance, I’m proud of her and I don’t think the students really understand how much practice she puts into her routines,” said Denise’s brother Emanuel Hernandez
The team spends hours every single week perfecting their choreography and tieing up loose ends. The team first learns the choreography step by step. The team then dances in front of captains Denise and Alana to show that they know the dance individually. Then they all come together and practice repeatedly until it’s cohesive. By the end of the practices the dancers are sweaty and winded, yet they all agree that it’s worth it. After hours of practice the team ends by jumping around and letting loose to their favorite songs while making videos for snapchat to promote.
Hernandez’s team gains a lot from her, whether it be choreography or tales of her past dance experiences. Dancers, like Ghina Franco, said it helped them to ease into the Saint Peter’s dance team. Before this year Franco never danced on the Saint Peter’s halftime court. Her first performance was last semester at the first home game.
“The first half of performances was unreal. I loved that people recognized and enjoyed the hard work we had put into the dances. It motivated me to keep working hard with my team. Being surrounded people who love dance just as much as you do makes it that much better to keep creating and working hard,” said Franco.
Hernandez is also known on campus for her love of fashion. From being a model for up and coming designers at Saint Peter’s, to being an intern at Nordstrom, Hernandez describes her look as “simplistic and edgy”. One of the biggest events of the year is where her two worlds –dance and fashion–meet.
“One of my favorite performances by her is hands down the annual fashion show that’s held in the sky room. Thats where you can really see her flourish because everyone around her is in an artistic state that she can relate to,” said her best friend and roommate Selena Marshall.
Hernandez and Marshall have been friends for over four years. They have been roommates since freshman year. The two agree that they are different in many ways, but alike in even more.
“I love the fact that I have watched her grow in all of her crafts, especially dance. A Lot of people have hobbies when they’re young that they let go of as they get older, it’s refreshing to see somebody that stuck to something and never gave up,” said Marshall.
Hernandez sticking to what she loved got her to her dance position today, and she’s thoroughly enjoying her role with the team.
“I personally love being captain. I think it’s a great tool for leadership. I also think that I make the dance team more fun and enjoyable than people have in the past. We’re a better dance team at this point. The dance team is a big part of Saint Peter’s. People come out to the games just to see us sometimes and leave right after halftime. It’s a big thing that people do come to support us,” said Hernandez.
If you want to see the dance team perform the next to big performances will be at Compa Night on March 30th and the FAME Fashion Show on April 28th. Both of these events will be held in the skyroom of the Saint Peter’s Student Center.