Danielle Santillia


Meet the dancer.

    Danielle, from Anaheim, California, is 11 years old, and is currently studying in 6th grade. She has been dancing on the Passion y Tumbao Project of OCAC since she was 5 years old for about a year. She then returned to dance again from 9 years old until now. She is a 2x World Silver medalist in 3 salsa divisions with Passion y Tumbao. Her interests outside of dance are becoming a musician and one day speaking French. Danielle really enjoys rock music and is interested in playing the guitar and violin, even though she does not play an instrument yet.


Her interest in the language of French started when she went to Canada with her aunt. There, she spoke to her aunt about how important education is.  Her aunt struggled in school, but she got into UC Berkeley, which showed Danielle that higher education is totally possible for her as well. It is now her dream to study in a university in either Canada or France where she can learn and practice French.


Why does she need a scholarship?

Danielle states, “When I was little, I would watch music videos and mimic the moves, so my mom put me into dance. My first love was hip hop and breakdancing, but then I tried Latin and I enjoyed it. Now I love it so much that I listen to Celia Cruz and salsa music on my free time. I walk around with my headphones and sometimes I can’t help myself but dance.  Everything in my life right now revolves around dancing, and it would be so awesome to be able to get a scholarship to an amazing school and be able to dance to represent that school. Fairmont also has many international students, and it can prepare me to study abroad when I get to university.”


Danielle feels that dance has changed her as a person. “It makes me feel that the impossible is possible. Dance is something that comes naturally to me and it is easy, whereas I struggle a lot in school.  It is hard for me to comprehend and then retain what I learn in school. Math in general is the hardest for me. My mom has met with several teachers a few times a year, trying to put together a plan and build goals to help me stay on track. My mom is constantly told that the school will help me, but still we have not seen any improvement to make me feel that it’s possible to be successful. Basically, I need more attention at school, but at my school where there are so many other students, it is hard for me to get the attention I need. I could be sitting at the front of the class, but the teacher is still talking to the whole class in general. When I have a question, I feel scared to ask my question in front of the whole class.  I feel that I have a better chance at being successful if I can get a scholarship to Fairmont.”


Why dance?

Danielle feels that her studies is not something she has excelled in over the years.  She recalls, “I have been told over and over again in school that I need to improve, but now with dance I have finally found something that I can learn naturally. Now I am teaching others who are coming in after me, and they are asking me for help. My mom brought me back to dance because my 4th grade teacher told my mom that we needed to find something that I am good at