I had a real “duh” moment when (the absolutely fabulous) Grace Wilson nominated Giselle Anguizola for Crush. G is quickly becoming one of my absolute favorite women in this town and she was a perfect nomination for Crescent City Crush. It was truly an honor to work on this issue with her. I first met Giselle in 2011 when I started learning how to swing dance. She taught this really kick-ass solo jazz class that was particularly empowering. Partner dance is a pretty rad skill to have but being able to get out on the floor and bust some sweet vintage dance moves alone is so freeing. And that is exactly what Giselle is about. From starting a celebration of women in dance “Girl Jam” to teaching damn near this entire city how to dance, Giselle has touched the lives of so many in a seriously joyful way. She is now a certified yoga instructor and she has expanded her ability to better the lives of the people she encounters through community yoga classes.I loved taking this wonderfully humble, beautiful woman and putting her in the spotlight. You deserve it, G, you breath of fresh air, you.
LR: I’m here with Giselle Anguizola, Crescent City Crush #5. So You moved from Southern California to New Orleans in 2010 and you’ve recently returned to New Orleans after going to California to study for a year.
G: I went back to California to get my yoga certification and now I am teaching yoga and dance. While in Cali, I spent some time studying science: anatomy, some biology, physics, chemistry, and math. I did it so I could balance my right and left brain, this makes me feel like a renaissance woman in the modern age. It’s important to be able to bring focus to other areas of healing arts and the body in general, and music and dance definitely both go along with that. I studied and spent my free time tap dancing, something I had been wanting to do for a while.
But the New Orleans community changed my life, now I’m back wiser & stronger.
LR: Your yoga classes are considered community yoga on a sliding scale, correct?
G: Yes, they are community yoga classes open to all levels, all ages, and I usually take the classes at a slower pace and accommodate to anyone’s injuries or specific needs. It’s donation based, so you can just pay whatever you can.
LR: How are you crushin’ it?
G: I am definitely fulfilling my purpose as a healer, which is one of the things that I feel very proud about. I am making a living as a vintage jazz dancer here in New Orleans, one of the few female jazz dancers that performs with live music on a consistent basis. I’m taking what I was doing before, which was primarily swing partner dance, Lindy Hop, and bringing it to another level by adding tap dance percussion, singing, sometimes leading a band, and becoming more musically involved.
LR: What is the name of your band?
G: “G and My Swingin’ Three,” – taps, trumpet, guitar & bass. I sometimes call the group “Swinging with G”. I try to inspire people to dance so you see me moving around like a wild woman and getting the crowd motivated. I sing a few tunes as well. It’s a nice little trio that I work with: John Saavedra, my talented & handsome boyfriend, helps me with the musical aspect of it; he’s extremely supportive and I love that. I’m so grateful for him. He’s a wonderful musician with a very unique sound and he’s the best singer around! He’s local too, went to NOCCA. I work with his band too, the New Orleans Swingin’ Gypsies. It’s a fantastic group, super fun and cool. They play gypsy jazz and swing tunes, and they enjoy having swing dancers around.
LR: You’re not just a dancer in these bands but you’re also a percussionist.
G: Right. So I have a 4×4 wooden stage and I use that to keep the basic two and four rhythm with tap. I take solos, sometimes trade with other musicians, and provide movement to the sound of the music, giving people something to look at, too. The art form is actually a really beautiful process. I enjoy breaking barriers and expectations from the norm.
LR: Do you consider yoga an art form as well?
G: Yes, I do. I see it as a form of healing; moving energy around, which is what dance is as well. So you’re taking a lot of stuck energy and you’re moving that around with yoga. And because of that, you’re able to release a lot of tension and a lot of pains that you may be holding inside your body that don’t serve you. I think that’s very healing and artistic at the same time.
LR: So why vintage dance? Why Jazz?
G: I had to do a dance performance in Junior High where I dressed up in the swing era and I remember coming home from the performance and feeling as though I had fallen in love for the first time. I felt married to Jazz immediately. The feeling of freedom and self expression of so many different, enriching sounds coming together at the same time was something that I wanted to partake in and develop within myself. My father is Panamanian and my mother is Mexican- I grew up listening to a lot of salsa and merengue and dancing all the time. Dance and music are a part of my family- my dad has been my best teacher, his footwork and rhythm is phenomenal! Partner dancing was very normal to me growing up, so when I went through puberty and started discovering who I was as a person and how I wanted to express myself, I knew that Jazz would be a great tool for me to be able to do that. As a first generation Latina, I was able to incorporate that aspect of jazz as an American art form that was true to me.
LR: What woman has influenced you the most?
G: Billie Holiday. I used to go rollerblading in the park with my walkman listening to her. I must have been eleven or twelve and I would just play the tapes that I got from the library over and over again. Her voice was so soothing to me. I felt that she expressed the music and her feelings in a way that resonated with my feelings and the fact that she was a strong African American woman pushing for art, for love, for human rights during that time in history was very special and is something that I wanted to take and be able to develop, too. Her sense of relaxation and calmness in her voice, the subtleties in her rhythms were something that resonated within me.
LR: Where would you like to see yourself in five years?
G: I would like to see myself continuing to perform as a dancer and musician, to become more involved with music and also becoming a certified doctor in natural medicine. It would be amazing to have a space- ideally in the French Quarter- that serves the whole community where I would offer dance classes, yoga classes, and also naturopathic medicine- natural healing options in Eastern medicine, including vitamins, herbs, and other supplements. It would serve as a center for artists and musicians to take care of their bodies and minds and be able to sustain themselves throughout life by taking care of what is essential.
LR: Who is your Crescent City Crush?
G: My Crescent City Crush is Sara Quintana because she is an inspirational, fabulous, beautifully talented woman from New Orleans who is pushing herself as a solo artist as well as a musician who works with groups. She is a woman who advocates for love and it shows in her performances, in the way she interacts with other people. She is currently in Paris right now performing and sharing her music and healing others through her sound. She is such a pleasure to be around. I often dance with her band, The Miss River Band, and I love it.
LR: How do you motivate yourself?
G: I do well and find joy when I have little rituals to help me get through my day. I usually wake up, get my body moving, starting with some breathing exercises and a short meditation. Maybe some chanting, and I always pick one tarot card, from my deck. I then look up the symbolism behind it and I make a mental image of the card- the number, the symbol, what it represents- and I use it throughout my day, especially when I’m losing focus or I’m feeling frustrated. I bring the image of this tarot card to help my mind concentrate, it helps me center myself. It’s a form of daily meditation. The meaning of the card is meant to bring focus, so I try not to look at the cards as having a ‘negative’ or ‘positive’ meaning. It’s an energy, a force of nature, just like the elements in the periodic table.
LR: What advice do you have for other women trying to crush it?
G: Just do it! Don’t hesitate. Whatever it is that you want to do, do it now. Your voice needs to be heard. Women need to be represented in our society. I don’t care what you say, it’s just important that you say it and in the way that you want. Take charge of your life, set your goals, and follow through with your passion or maybe discover what your passions are in the process. Value who you are and know that you’re important. Know that you don’t need to live up to any standards that you’ve been taught your whole life or from what society tells you. Rebel against that. That is my advice.
LR: What should folks do if they want to come dance or do yoga with you?
G: Well, if you want to learn dance or yoga, please come hang out, dance with me – let’s do some warrior poses. I’m available for any group lessons, private lessons and parties. I love sharing my yoga practice with others. I love serving my community and I am available, especially to those that need healing.
LR: When are your classes?
G: I teach a free swing dance lesson every Tuesday at the Maison & Wednesday at Bamboulas, five o’clock. Live music starts in the early afternoon on Frenchmen St. My yoga classes are held at the Rhythmic Art Center on St Claude on Thursdays at 4pm for an hour, otherwise I’m performing on Frenchman Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights.
LR: What is it about performance that you love?
G: I get to share my passion for music and dance with other people and I hope that inspires them to be able to share their passions with others. It’s my way of giving love and energy out to the world. It can be exhausting at times but it’s something I feel I have to do and I think that when people see that, it lets them know it’s ok for them to do the same. And it just spirals into more people expressing themselves through whatever art form they choose. In this day and age where everyone is so busy, dancing and yoga can be a way of creating community. And as we modernize more, it’s even more important to keep that element alive.♥
Connect with Giselle:
Weekly Gigs & Lessons:
Tuesday: Maison on Frenchmen, 4-6:30pm (Free Dance Lesson at 5!)
Wednesday: Bamboulas on Frenchmen 2-6pm (Free Dance Lesson at 5!)
Thursday: 21st Ammendement in the quarter 5:30-8:30pm,
Thursday: Rhythmic Arts Center on St Claude 4-5pm
I’d like to thank (yet again, what an amazing woman!) Midori Tajiri-Byrd for doing makeup on this shoot. I’d also like to thank the ever patient Patrick Quirk for helping out on another long yet terribly fun Crush shoot. We also have a new gal on the team- Aubrey Prieto- who took the time to transcribe this lovely interview (Thanks, Aubrey!). I gotta give a shoutout to Dat Dog on Magazine for letting us dance on their tables and Keel and Justin at Pigment Tattoo for allowing us to shoot in their space. Thank you all for helping make Volume 5 possible!