Filipino mother-daughter dance crew take part in new CBS series – AsAmNews

By Jana Monji, Arts and Culture Editor at AsAmNews

A Las Vegas-based Filipino American mother-daughter team is up for a grand prize of $100,000 in a new CBS family dance competition series, come dance with mewhich begins tonight, Friday, April 15. Emelyn and Nicole Yniguez are among the 12 teams that have been sequestered in Australia to film this series.

Grammy-winning songwriter Philip Lawrence hosts the series which was created and produced by the stars of CBS NCIS: Los Angeles stars Chris O’Donnell, LL Cool J and 3 Ball Productions. The judges are actress/dancer Jenna Dewan, renowned professional dancer Dexter Mayfield and hip hop choreographer Tricia Miranda. Throughout the season, each pair will learn and perform different dance styles.

Filipina American Emelyn (@emelynyniguez) and Nicole (@mommytipsbycole) communicated via email about their experiences.

Nicole Yniguez

Q: Did you dance as a child? Formally or informally?

Nicole Yniguez: I have always loved singing, music and the stage and I have always wanted to dance. Unfortunately, my parents both worked full time in New York while I was cared for by relatives who couldn’t drive me to after school activities. The extent of my training was taking a ballet/tap class at 8 years old because I begged my mom to let me try for a year, after that I was never able to come back. I learned some ballroom dancing for my Sweet 16 Cotillion. As a competitive choir singer, I used to audition for lead roles in musical theater, but I always got beat up by kids who had formal dance training. Being Filipino I would like to think I always had a natural rhythm since we all love to sing and dance lol. Dancing is something I’ve always wanted to pursue but never had the opportunity to do…until now.

Q: What is your daily job?

Nicole Yniguez: I’m a social media consultant and YouTube content creator. I’ve been creating content online for 11 years in May. Something that started as a hobby as a stay-at-home mom has turned into a career. I also work for my children’s current dance studio (Dance Connection) in Las Vegas as well as remotely for our original dance studio (Across the Floor) in New Jersey.

Q: What does your husband do?

Nicole Yniguez: My husband is a full-time Lyft driver.

Q: Why did you decide to enroll your daughter in a dance class and why Dance Connections?

Nicole Yniguez: When Emelyn was 2 years old, I enrolled her in dance and gymnastics lessons from time to time because it was difficult to get her to class. I remember having to walk up two flights of stairs holding her hand, carrying my one-year-old daughter and eight months pregnant with my third child. It took a few years before I signed her up again, but it wasn’t until I was six years old that I started working at Across the Floor. Coincidentally, the owner of the studio was the choreographer for my Sweet 16 cotillion and she was looking for a trusted mother to work at the studio. Because I had children, they suggested they sign up for the dance. When she saw Emelyn’s potential, she quickly put her through dual courses of all genres to catch up. Eventually her passion grew and she wanted to be a competitive dancer. Three years later, we moved to Las Vegas and that’s how we ended up at Dance Connection. I was worried that I would have to drastically cut back on classes for my kids, but luckily Dance Connection offered me a job and scholarships for the kids so they could continue to train and compete.

Q: Do his other siblings also dance?

Nicole Yniguez: Yes, my 4 children are competitive dancers. Emily, 14 years old; Malia, 12; Dylan, 11, and my youngest daughter Colby, 6, are now in her first year of competitions.

Q: Did this competition inspire his siblings in any way?

Nicole Yniguez: Yes, I think the CDWM show has inspired my other kids to pursue their passions in general, whether it’s dance, music, school clubs, etc. It’s inspiring for children to see Emelyn pursue her dreams.

Q: What did you learn about yourself during this competition?

Nicole Yniguez: I learned that I still had it even at 40 years old (my age when we shot the series)! No matter how old you are, you really can do whatever you want. Well with the help of many professional choreographers of course lol.

Q: What did you learn about your daughter?

Nicole Yniguez: I learned that what Emelyn does is not easy! The amount of strength it takes physically, mentally and emotionally to be a performer is something I never fully understood until this experience. It’s so easy to be a side mom telling your child to smile more, point, and give more energy. But when I was literally put in his place. What an awakening it was!!! I will never criticize my kids that way again because now I really know how hard it is to do what they do everyday?!

Q: Do you have a favorite dance style?

Nicole Yniguez: ‘Although I’d love to say Hip Hop since it’s one of my favorite styles of music to listen to, I just can’t effortlessly move my body like Emelyn does. I think the ballroom suits me the best, it’s more natural to move my hips than to jump and lock!

Q: How was Sydney, Australia? Have you been there before?

Nicole Yniguez: Sydney was beautiful, although we spent the two weeks of our time in quarantine before flying to Melbourne for filming. We had at least a balcony and were able to visit the Sydney Opera House for two hours before our flight on the day we came out of quarantine.

Q: Did you see anything cool?

Nicole Yniguez: Our schedule once we arrived in Melbourne was incredibly tight. Days off consisted of grocery shopping, going to physical therapist appointments, and buying the clothes we needed for interviews. So I couldn’t see as much as Emelyn. On a long day of parent training, the kids got to go to the zoo and see koalas and kangaroos…something I wish I could have done. Unfortunately, during filming Melbourne went into strict lockdown, while we were considered essential for work we were unable to visit anything other than the rehearsal space, film set and grocery store.

Q: What’s the funniest/weirdest/coolest thing that’s happened to you in those two months?

Nicole Yniguez: The coolest thing that happened during those two months in Australia was getting to know the other cast members. This is one of our biggest takeaways from the show…even though it was a competition, we truly became a family away from home and we all stay in touch to this day.

Q: What’s your favorite moment, routine, or costume that we should be looking for?

Nicole Yniguez: Our favorite routine is a sentimental routine dedicated to Emelyn’s late paternal grandmother, who died of cancer in 2016. We know she looked down on us so proudly. She would have loved this show, because we used to watch all the competition shows together. She was a die-hard fan and had us all calling to vote for her favorite contestant.

Emelyn Yniguez:

Q: What kind of dance do you like?

Emelyn Yniguez: My favorite dance style is Hip Hop. Although I am trained in all styles of ballet, jazz, contemporary, lyrical, tap, ballroom and gymnastics.

Q: Who are your favorite dancers?

Emelyn Yniguez: Some of my favorite dancers and performers are Jlo, Beyonce, Usher and Neyo. My dream is to go on a day trip with one of them!

Q: Who are your favorite choreographers?

Emelyn Yniguez: Some of my favorite hip-hop choreographers are Tricia Miranda, Nika Kljun, Ysabelle Capitule, Amari Smith, Gabe De Guzman.

Q: What is your favorite dance style?

Emelyn Yniguez: Hip Hop is my specialty and my favorite style.

Q: What is your favorite dance movie?

Emelyn Yniguez: Some of my favorite dance movies are “Step Up” and “Bring It On”.

Q: Do you follow any dance/talent programs?

Emelyn Yniguez: Besides training in my studio and competing with my dance company, I also attend Hip Hop conventions such as Kaos & Monsters.

Q: Why did you want to do this contest?

Emelyn Yniguez:I wanted the opportunity to learn from amazing choreographers and have a memorable experience with my mom.

Q: What did you learn about yourself?

Emelyn Yniguez: I learned that I am capable of more than I ever imagined and to always stay true to myself and have confidence in my abilities.

Q: What did you learn about your mother?

Emelyn Yniguez: I learned that my mom can actually dance and she is an inspiration for making so many sacrifices so that I can pursue my dreams and passions.

Q: What do you want to do next?

Emelyn Yniguez: I want to continue working in LA as a professional dancer signed to Bloc LA and hope to one day tour with a top artist when I get older.

Q: How was Sydney, Australia? Have you been there before?

Emelyn Yniguez: Sydney and Melbourne were beautiful. It was the first time I left the country.

Q: Did you see anything cool?

Emelyn Yniguez: Yes, we got to see the Sydney Opera House and I got to pet koalas and kangaroos at the zoo!

Q: What’s the funniest/weirdest/coolest thing that’s happened to you in those two months?

Emelyn Yniguez: The coolest thing was all the time I spent with the other kids on the show! We were very busy but bonded so much on our free days and during classes on set.

Q: What’s your favorite moment, routine, or costume that we should be looking for?

My favorite routine is the one dedicated to my mom (Mercedes Yniguez) who died of cancer.

come dance with me, series premiere, Friday, April 15, 8/7c, on CBS. The series is available to stream live and on-demand through Paramount+.

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Colleen D. Ervin