We had the good fortune of connecting with Lily Ontiveros and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lily, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk taking has been a huge part of my life and career. Artists have to carve their own path in order to be successful and there is no step-by-step guide on how to “make it.” For me, the biggest risk was moving to the United States from Mexico to pursue my dream of being a professional dancer. I chose to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in dance without knowing a single person who had gone the collegiate route for dance. However, this choice gave me time to acquire more technique and life skills; college taught me to be independent, disciplined, and organized. Taking those skills into a professional career in Los Angeles has given me peace amongst the chaos and risks one takes being an international dancer.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a dancer born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico. I came to the US to study a dance degree at Chapman University, and graduated in 2017. I then moved to Los Angeles to pursue my professional career and became a dancer for Heidi Duckler Dance, a dance company that has been creating site-specific work for more than 35 years. It has been a bumpy road, especially moving to a different country, adapting to a new culture, and trying to not let the unknowns stop me. But my goals have always been at the forefront of my mind, pushing me to keep going. I am learning to be more vocal and ask for help when I need it. I think what sets me apart is my consistency and dedication to being the best dancer I can possibly be. I am not in it for competition or to gain recognition, but rather to grow as a dancer and person.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
When people visit me, I like to show them the many different sides of the city. Los Angeles is so diverse and every area has something special to offer. I would take my friends to must-see sights like the Griffith Observatory, Getty Museum, and the Santa Monica pier, but also throw in gems like Amoeba Hollywood and vintage shops. I would show them around East LA to check out some of the many murals that showcase Mexican culture, down Sunset Blvd in Silver Lake, Melrose Blvd in West Hollywood, Abbot Kinney in Venice, and shopping down Ventura Blvd in Studio City and Sherman Oaks. Before the pandemic, I would definitely take them to a concert at an iconic venue like The Troubadour as well. Food wise, I would take them to Grand Central Market, Monty’s Good Burger, Aroma Coffee, and, since I’m a matcha addict, Midori Matcha in Little Tokyo.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to anyone that has given me an opportunity to perform, learn and grow besides them. I am grateful to my college professors who provided me with a wealth of knowledge that prepared me to be a professional, healthy and creative dancer. The friends I have made in Los Angeles that take class alongst me all the time have pushed me to be my best and work hard every day. And I cannot thank the choreographers who have inspired me and supported me since I moved here, including Heidi Duckler, Jose ‘Boy Boi’ Tena, Megan Lawson, Jillian Meyers, Mary Ann Chavez, and Will Bell.
Personal photo by Himerria Wortham. Additional photos by Himerria Wortham, Mariana Gonzalez, and Sean Deckert.