Ana "Rokafella" Garcia: Ms. Rockefeller
Rokafella shares the history of how her dancing name came to be.
Ana "Rokafella" Garcia
Pioneer Break Dancer
Pioneering b-girl Ana "Rokafella" Garcia defied what was thought to be a male-only art when she fell in love with breaking and started dancing with crews around New York City. Today, Rokafella is not only a respected dancer within the hip hop community, but also a teacher who empowers young people through hip hop.
Ana "Rokafella" Garcia, Pioneer Break Dancer
ANA "ROCKAFELLA" GARCIA: When I was small my mother had to hire a babysitter to take care of me, because she was a housekeeper, so she was working in different companies. Some offices, some hotels, some residences. But she worked, and wasn't always there to pick me up from school.
And my dad from custodial jobs, to factory jobs, to security, you know he did it. It was three of us, my big brother, my big sister and me. So he really-- they busted their hump to make sure that we were taken care of, and that we had a chance at succeeding. A chance that maybe they didn't, because truth be told they didn't finish grammar school back in Puerto Rico.
So you know, when I look back now, I always have so much respect for them, and any immigrant who comes into a new space, and makes it. And that's why I push so hard, and I try to tell my students, like these people coming here don't even speak English. You were born here. Come on, let's go. Make it, do it, find it. Go for it.
ANA "ROCKAFELLA" GARCIA: Before I was break dancing with like skills on a high level of break dance mastery and moves, I would jump into a circle and dance, and somebody always just felt like they were entitled to just jump in and grab me and hump me. For how long they wanted to keep me there. In a club.
And I always felt so disrespected, like I didn't even finish what I was doing. And this is the way you treat girls that jump in here? But when a girl jumps in, it's like all of a sudden you've got to grab her, and just do something sexual. And it just felt so bad. You know?
So I was really looking for moves that I could do that would deter people from doing that. And so that has to be of the final times where I jumped into a circle in a club, and a guy grabbed me, and I just did like this back walk over, and I walked between his legs, and I kicked him out of the circle. And then I continued doing what I was doing. And it was like a big aha moment, that I was like you know now I have a little bit more skills, so it's not just this up, sexy, hardcore dance that I'm going to do. I'm going to take it to the floor. And if you're interested on battling me, wait till I'm finished.
ANA GARCIA: I know my mom was happy to have relocated to New York City, where she had these freedoms, whereas in Puerto Rico, it was just not going to happen. It was way too much mountain culture that was sheltering women to just stay home.
I think my mother enjoyed the freedoms of being in New York City-- that she could have her own bank account, that she could drive. I think those things were very clear to her. Oh, I'm so happy I'm here. Wow, I can work. I'm making good amount of money.
So without being so blatant about the women's movement, I think my mother was always letting me know that this is our time and if we have a chance, take it, because back in her day and her mother's day, certain things were just not available.
ANA "ROCKAFELLA" GARCIA: Whenever I was like doing push ups, or lifting weights for basketball, when my brother was training me outside, my mother would always caution me, like you're going to look like a man. And your arms are going to look horrible in a dress. And just this type of thing, warning me. Warning me. Like you don't want to look like a man.
And so I would say, I don't think I'm ever going to look like a man. I just want to be strong. And I need this, because I'm not going to be able to match the greatness that I'm that I am aspiring to. So I always pushed when it came to that.