Couple finds love through mutual passion for dance

Senior+dance+majors+Julian+Maldonado+and+Gabriella+Moreno+will+be+graduating+together+after+spending+most+of+their+college+careers+together.+

Angel Ulloa

Senior dance majors Julian Maldonado and Gabriella Moreno will be graduating together after spending most of their college careers together.

Amanda Guillen , Editor-In-Chief

As they walk from class and toward Centennial Plaza, Gabriella Moreno and Julian Maldonado gracefully stroll through campus hand in hand, at times looking into each others’ eyes and smiling.

Even if you didn’t know they were dancers, you would be able to tell by the way their long legs nonchalantly sway past each other, their postures upright and elegant. 

Moreno, 22, and Maldonado, 24, met three and a half years ago during their first year at UTEP while studying contemporary dance.

Now, just a couple of weeks away from graduation, they are excited for their future, although it may be uncertain.

A few months after they met they began performing together. Spending time together both in classes and rehearsals led to a friendship that became a support system. That friendship slowly grew.

“I think dance has provided for us just a huge conversation that is never ending because he has his ideas and I have mine,” Moreno said. “We have our opinions, it is just nice to have someone to bounce back with and who understands where you are coming from.”

Moreno said that they don’t have time for date nights or alone time, despite having the same major.

“A lot of people think we are lucky because we have the same major, but we never see each other, this (interview) is actually the only time we have seen each other,” Moreno said. “We see each other, but we don’t actually get to be with each other.” 

Moreno knew dancing was something that she always wanted to do, but for Maldonado it was something that he had kept a secret from everyone until he began at UTEP.

Originally, Maldonado’s family had dreamt he would attend West Point Military Academy in New York. Maldonado did have his eyes set on the city, but not the academy. 

Before arriving at UTEP, Maldonado attended different colleges before he found a fit here at UTEP and eventually met Moreno.

Last summer the couple traveled to Florence, Italy, to attend a dance intensive, a summer-long dance bootcamp-style course.

“We learned so much by just seeing how people present themselves and what they care about and what they value in Italy,” Maldonado said.

Along with traveling out of the country, both Maldonado and Moreno have begun looking ahead, past graduation, which will take place on May 14.

Moreno applied and was accepted into the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre, which is a professional dance school and company in New York. The program that Moreno was chosen for selects students from all over the country and is a six-week program that will begin in June and conclude in August.

Maldonado also applied for the same program, but was not accepted. 

These instances in their relationship are ones that they say have helped strengthen their connection, despite it being bittersweet.

“It takes a lot of self esteem and confidence in yourself to be proud of your significant other, because I know at first for me it was hard to accept his success because I’m like ‘where’s mine, where’s mine,’ and you reach a point where you just love a person so much that those thoughts go away and you can’t do anything else other than be proud of what they have accomplished,” Moreno said. “I’m just so happy that I’ve reached that point with him. That it is no longer envy or jealousy.”

With excitement in his voice Maldonado said that he had auditioned for “Hamilton—” the critically acclaimed and Oscar-winning musical— earlier this month in Los Angeles. He should be hearing back from producers in the coming weeks.

With their senior capstone projects and their final days at UTEP coming to an end, the couple said, although they are anxious to leave, they will miss their long days and nights at school.

“Even though we never get to spend time with each other, we are around each other all the time and that is something that I truly am going to miss, because I know for a fact that our professions won’t allow us to be together, especially since what I like to do is musical theater or acting and Gaby does a lot of hard-core dance,” Maldonado said. “We think the same, but we are opposites in movement.”

With a sigh, the couple describes the worry that comes with the uncertainty of their futures. Although they don’t know what the next 10 years will bring for them, one thing they were certain about is that they see a future with each other.

Their dream is to open up a dance studio together once their permanent home is found.

The couple has come along way during their four years at UTEP. Through performing as the leads in some UTEP Dinner Theatre productions, ballets and also performing for the Human Nature Contemporary Ballet, they have maintained and balanced love.

They hope that upon their graduation, they left an impact on the program and their peers.

Moreno said that passion is something that is important for all dancers and she hopes that her passion for dance is something that others will learn from.

“I think it is so important to constantly remind yourself of why you are doing this and what is the reason you are doing this, because I think we lose ourselves,” she said. “It is a very easy field to give up in just because it is so competitive.”

Amanda Guillen may be reached at [email protected]