I was contacted many times with the opportunity to interview any of the contestants of Jennifer Lopez’s and Marc Anthony’s new show, Q’Viva The Chosen. I responded that if they had any contestants who were Salvadoran, I’d be interested.
Well, I got my wish! Junior and Emily are half-Salvadoran salsa dancing siblings from California. Check out my exclusive interview with Junior below!
Latinaish: I saw your auditions with Marc Anthony in Q’Viva and it’s very clear that you guys are professional dancers and that you love to dance. At what age did you start learning to dance?
(See Junior and Emily at minute 2:25)
Junior: We love what we do! We have been dancing salsa for 12 years together. Emily started when she was 10 years old and I started when I was 14 years old. It’s an incredible feeling to do what you love and to do with your sister. To be able to travel and share amazing and unforgettable moments with family.
Latinaish: You guys dance salsa but do you like other types of dance as well?
Junior: We love all types of music and dance. Our specialty is salsa but we also do other types of social dances.
Latinaish: What are your favorite songs to dance to right now?
Junior: We love to dance to everything! As of right now we have been very into doing music by Rodrigo y Gabriela.
Latinaish: You guys are siblings and you have a lot of chemistry when you dance together, but siblings have a tendency to argue and annoy each other. What does your brother/sister do that annoys you more than anything?
Junior: We have learned to work together. We have learned to separate the personal and the professional. We have been dancing for 12 years together so like everything else, it’s a learning process. The thing that we try and focus on most is pushing each other past our comfort zone and constantly pushing limits. We always have to keep each other positive and motivated when things get really tough because for us it’s a never-ending process to create new limits and continue to innovate.
Latinaish: Your biography says that you’re from San Francisco, California – but I also heard you’re Salvadoran. My husband is from Soyapango, so I’m curious – who in your family is from El Salvador? Your father? Mother? (From what part?)
Junior: That’s exciting to hear that your husband is Salvadorean as well! We were both born and raised in San Francisco, California, but we currently live in Los Angeles, California. We are both half Salvadorean and half Korean. Our father is from Santa Ana, El Salvador and our mother is from Seoul, Korea.
Latinaish: Have you visited El Salvador?
Junior: We have been invited to perform in El Salvador before, but unfortunately we have never been able to go because of schedule conflicts. We would definitely love to visit someday!
Latinaish: In the Q’Viva competition, you guys represent the United States, but do you also feel like you represent El Salvador?
Junior: Yes, we were representing the USA, but we definitely felt that we represented El Salvador as well. Our parents divorced when we were really young and we were raised by our father. We were brought up knowing only our Salvadorean side of the family. It was such an honor to represent both countries.
Latinaish: What else can you tell us about your part on the show Q’Viva?
Junior: Q’Viva was an amazing and unforgettable experience for us. It was so incredible to see such amazing talent from all over the world and for us to be a part of that was an honor. We definitely were extremely excited and nervous at the same time performing for Marc, Jennifer, and Jamie. It will be a moment that we will never forget!
Last night my 13 year old interrupted my very impassioned rendition of Yertle the Turtle, which I was reading to his little brother before bedtime.
“Mommy! Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull just performed on the American Music Awards and it was nasty!”
“What do you mean nasty?”
“Jennifer Lopez was barely wearing anything, first of all.”
“Okay, not shocking.”
“No, but she like put her butt near Pitbull’s… you-know, and Pitbull looked like, all happy, of course.”
(The 10 year old giggles.)
I answered my 13 year old with something like, “Yeah? Well, you know how Pitbull is, honey,” and I went back to the story. I mean, it’s JLo and Pitbull. It’s the American Music Awards… what did he expect? We have these conversations often enough. I’ve told him, sex sells. I’ve told him that at some point very soon (if not already), he will find performances and images like these to be spectacular rather than “nasty.” I’ve told him that no matter how strong certain urges may be and despite what the culture says is appropriate – he should always treat women with respect.
Then this morning I came across a photo from the performance which he had described to me and it made me think.
(I can’t use the photo here since it’s owned by Getty Images. Click the link above to see the original. Here are some screenshots I took from video.)
What can be said about these photos? I’ll admit that my first reaction was to laugh – (partly because it appears that Pitbull’s pants aren’t flat in the front and partly because I imagine Marc Anthony watching this from the sidelines.)
Look, total honesty here – I love both JLo and Pitbull. I listen to their music and think they are both talented individuals and exceptional entertainers. Pitbull is one of the very few artists that I’m willing to actually buy the album from, because I love every song and know I can dance through the entire CD from beginning to end. As a woman, I get kind of disgusted with the constant objectification of women in his music – but as a music lover, I can’t get enough. It’s a moral contradiction that I’m totally aware of.
After that initial amused reaction though, the photo also made me kind of sad. Here is JLo, one of the most successful Latinas in the world, bending over for Pitbull like an endless number of women have happily done for him before being tossed aside like used Kleenex.
I don’t know. Maybe it’s just a meaningless performance meant to entertain and nothing should be read into it. I know it was just a choreographed dance, a music awards moment that lasted for no more than 10 seconds and will ultimately be forgotten – but it just seems symbolic of how women, (Latina and otherwise), are viewed and consequently treated.
The cultural message: No matter how smart, how successful, how kind or talented you are, in the end, chicas, this is what you’re good for.
A peso for your thoughts, gente.