A Folklorico dancer copes with the new way of life

Paula Quinonez explains her experience while in quarantine


Paula Quinonez (in purple) and her troupe perform Ballet Folklorico on stage. Photo by J&R Photography

Gabriel Schneider, Staff Writer

Editor’s note: This is the fourth in an occasional series of journal entries produced by City Times staff highlighting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on members of our community.

Paula Quinonez, Ballet Folklorico, J&R Photography
Paula Quinonez performs in a Ballet Folklorico on March 8. Photo by J&R Photography

For the past seven years, San Diego City College student Paula Quinonez has been performing in a Ballet Folklorico troupe.

However like most gyms, the dance studio where Quinonez practices is closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ballet Folklorico is a traditional Mexican dance that emphasizes local folk culture through ballet characteristics, which include pointed toes, exaggerated movement and highly choreographed moves.

“Why I dance, is because that is one of the ways I honor my culture,” Quinonez said. “It came to me very easily.”

Prior to the quarantine, she would practice with her group twice a week. Now the Folklorico troupe meets once a week on a Zoom call to talk and dance.

But practice at home is difficult, Quinonez said. She uses shoes that have nails on the soles that can only be used on special surfaces and her practice skirt is humongous.

“It is not the same,” Quinonez said.

Due to COVID-19, schools have been shut down and stay-at-home orders have been issued all across the globe.

For many students, the change to online classes can be an issue, especially for the ones that like the accountability of on-campus learning.

“I have slacked a little bit,” Quinonez said. “Being at home, there is more room for slacking off.”

Quinonez is a City College student majoring in psychology. She was born in Tijuana and moved to San Diego back in 2009.

“It is so weird how this has changed the way that I do things,” Quinonez said. “I would have a to-do list for every day. Now I am not doing that at all.”

There are both pros and cons to moving classes online, but all students can do is make a game plan that works for themselves.

Quinonez worked at a Marriott hotel before the pandemic, but with so many cancelations, half of the staff was laid off, she said.

“I am living off my savings,” Quinonez said.

Quinonez is one of many Americans who have lost their job and been forced to apply for unemployment and other grants to get them through this time.

Link: How to file an unemployment claim in San Diego

As we all find ourselves in quarantine and some without work, the amount of free time has grown exponentially.

The Awakening
Paula Quinonez is reading “The Awakening” while in quarantine. Paula Quinonez photo

Quinonez has used this time to read more and pick up painting.

To get some fresh air, she goes outside and walks near her home, which she said has made her “appreciate nature more.”

Keeping up with the news is important, but for some people, this could cause anxiety and lead to unnecessary stress.

“I am trying to find a balance,” Quinonez said. “If I checked the news all the time, I think it would make me very paranoid.”

To keep updated on what is going on around the world, she checks the news every 3-4 days.

“I wondered if, in my lifetime, I’m going to have to go through a global event like this one,” Quinonez said. “It’s odd. It puts it in perspective how things can change all of a sudden.”

For some, this is the first pandemic they have gone through in their lives, so we are learning as we go.

“For me, it has shown me I have taken for granted a lot of things I would do on a daily basis,” Quinonez said.

Do you have a unique story to share about how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted your life? Let us know on social media @SDCityTimes or leave a comment below.