FALA Senior
Flagstaff Arts & Leadership Academy senior Darrion Gallegos takes a break earlier this month during a dance class for which he serves as a teacher's assistant. After graduation on Friday, Gallegos plans to move to the Los Angeles area to pursue a professional dance career. (Rick Wacha/Arizona Daily Sun) Rick Wacha

Darrion Gallegos uses the word "blessing" a lot.

The Flagstaff native uses it to describe how he feels about choreographing for the former Sinagua High School varsity dance team, the encouragement he got to pursue his calling at Flagstaff Arts & Leadership Academy, his opportunities to tour the country to dance -- and just that he can dance at all.

Dance is, of course, his life.

After Darrion graduates Friday from FALA, he's Los Angeles-bound. He'd like to jump head-long into the entertainment industry -- get an agent, start booking jobs. He's young, fit, motivated and willing to work his way up.

"I kinda hope my first job getting out there could be something like being Aladdin in Disneyland because I think that'd just be something so awesome to do," he said.

Darrion started dancing at age 13 when his parents encouraged him to take a hip-hop class. Transferring to FALA his junior year from Northland Preparatory Academy allowed him to widen his repertoire with modern, ballet and jazz.

He credits his FALA teachers with pushing him hard enough to earn a "protégé" title with the traveling Pulse dance conventions. Through Pulse, he's made valuable connections in the dance industry and worked with dancers and choreographers for iconic pop stars -- artists like Brian Friedman, whose work was made famous by Britney Spears; Gil Duldulao, who directs tours and choreographs for Janet Jackson; and Mia Michaels from "So You Think You Can Dance."

Darrion's near-term goal is to be a backup dancer on one of those A-list, arena-filling pop tours. He's also interested in set design, lighting and choreography.

Out of school, he teaches hip-hop at All That Dance and, with a friend, started a dance crew, Young Royalty, that has performed at NAU basketball halftime shows. Although he did not attend Sinagua, he helped the girls, who were his age, to excel in competition. He taught children at Killip Elementary how to dance and what it feels like to be on stage.

"I don't find I do anything else that makes me happier than when I dance," he said. "It sounds so cheesy and it sounds like something everybody says, but I guess when you really fall in love with it and when you really find it, that's the only way to describe it -- is that it is really something beautiful."

Hillary Davis can be reached at hdavis@azdailysun.com or 556-2261.

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