At the end of 2019, National Geographic published a series of their most popular images of the year, including this portrait shot by Jennifer Emerling. We sent him some questions to get an idea of the person behind this photograph.
1. Where are you originally from?
I was born in Autlán, Jalisco in Mexico. I spent 14 years of my life there before I moved to the US.
2. How long have you lived in Palm Springs and how did you come to move there?
I have lived in the valley for 27 years. I came as a teenager when my parents decide to migrate in the early 90s. I didn't really have a choice but I am extremely thankful they made the sacrifice to bring us all here.
3. How many hours do you work as a Night Auditor? Which hotels have you worked at? What was your thinking about doing two jobs?
I work an average of 50- 60 hours a week Full-time at Ace Hotel and part-time at Saguaro.
I started at The Ritz-Carlton in 2000, which was my introduction to Hospitality. After that the Club Intrawest - now Embarc, WorldMark Timeshare, DoubleTree, Red Lion & Sparrows.
I also did Gardening with my father and Tailoring with my mother. My main thought was "I do not want to be 50 something and have no job, or skill to fall back on and mainly the fear of having no income and nowhere to live or to be. I was determined to one day be working as hard as my parents; I owe my parents for their strength and tenacity that both have bestowed upon me, to be who I am, and to encourage me to be twice as tenacious and stronger than they are. But most of all, the one thing that I have been always thinking is To be Grateful to have the opportunity, to have a job and to always respect that, because, without that one job, I would not be able to survive and to show the world that we all have potential, the potential to do incredible things, unbelievable things and in my case can be something as "simple" as having two jobs and maintaining that streak for over two years. Believe me, it is not as easy as I make it look, but I love my job. I get to meet the most interesting people and create bonds with them that after years still hold strong.
4. Where did you get trained in Dance? For how many years have you been working professionally? What is your style/genre?
I started my Dance Training in the Coachella Valley, in Palm Springs, in different Dance Studios at the age of 19. I did lots of Acting, Dancing, and singing at the McCollum Thater. I met my dance partner during all this and we made a Dance Troop Called Step 'N Time. Then it evolved to dance competitions and mainly ballroom style amongst other styles such as Ballet, Jazz, Hip hop and Modern dances. After that, I stepped away from the troop and worked a regular job (hotel) but kept my presence mainly in the desert, and I would choreograph special events such as Quinceaneras and weddings. Starlight Dance Center in Palm Desert became my Studio of preference where I have been practicing and teaching choreography since 2005.
5. How have you found teaching clients during your career? How has interest changed or developed?
Starlight is my base studio and they will contact me when a client specifies what they need, Weddings, Quinceaneras or other special events. Life changes, your body changes, your wants and needs change, but balancing all at the same time is what is key. Again, being thankful, grateful and staying positive when you are tired and when people sometimes try to bring you down. My mind has been focused on this since 2000, I am not backing down, I am a professional, I am reliable and I love to do what I do.
Connect with Jorge to learn more about his work