By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Belly dancing counters hard life experiences for Ceres High School junior
A nervous Denicza Arias stood before her peers Friday for a belly dancing routine at Ceres High School's multi-cultural performance assembly. While the art of belly dancing was founded as a Middle Eastern method to assist in reducing a woman's childbirth by imitating movements of a pregnant woman, Denicza has found it a great way to cope with other pains in life.

"It gets my mind off of how hard things have been," noted the 16-year-old Ceres High junior.

Both her father and mother were deported to Mexico in the past three years, ripping apart an immigrant family and leaving Denicza in the care of her 21-year-old brother and 19-year-old sister. Another sister is living with an aunt and uncle. The three live in a Ceres apartment on their own.

"They're my guardians right now," said Denicza. "It's been really really hard but I've gotten so strong. It's like I'm being forced to grow up. I mean, I'm paying all the bills now. I pay PG&E and MID but I don't really know what that is."

To fight depression, Denicza decided to take on a new challenge. She thought of belly dancing.

"Last year I realized I had to do something. I saw that I didn't have any talent. I just thought of belly dancing. I started out on own. and wanted to take a class but didn't have money for that. So I just kind of taught myself. I like belly dancing because I feel like I'm good at something and it feels good being cheered on. It's a hidden talent I didn't even know I had."

Practicing helps her keep her mind off of missing her parents but she is able to speak with them on the phone each week.

"They know I have a lot of help here," she said.

She's found encouragement and support in school staff. Counselor Mike Corsaut is among those on her emergency call list should any problems arise. And she noted that Dustin Pack of Project Yes has been supportive as well and assisted in finding her employment at Curves in Ceres.

Hard times have caused Arias to press for a better future. She wants to finish her senior year strong, with good grades.

"I want a happy year this time. And after high school I want to go into the Air Force."

Vocationally she hopes to become a chef but also would enjoy becoming a belly dancing instructor one day.

"If you become pro you can teach classes and they're really expensive."