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Dominic Grijalva: Local Actor Loves To Dance!

IN THE March 16 ISSUE

FROM THE 2013 Articles,
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by Lorie Lewis Ham

One thing we enjoy doing at KRL is putting the spotlight on those involved in local theatre, so those of us who attend can get to know the people on the stage and behind the scenes of the great productions we have in the Valley. Sometimes we feature someone who has been involved in theatre for years, and sometimes it’s one of the younger, up and coming performers. This time it is one of the younger ones that has caught our eye in some great productions over the past year with his beautiful voice, dancing, and sparkling stage presence-Dominic Grijalva.

Dominic (as Cosmo) dancing in Singin' In The Rain with Daniel Hernandez

Dominic was born and raised in Selma and got a taste of theatre for the first time in some elementary school productions. “I vividly remember portraying one of the three little pigs in a drama club production. Growing up, I was always entertained by movies and I loved to sing so of course I wanted to have some part in the fun. I just never had a real opportunity until high school.”

As a freshman in high school, Dominic was cast in the ensemble of his school’s production of Little Shop of Horrors. But it was during his sophomore year that he got his first real role-that of Ali Hakim in Oklahoma! “That was a lot of fun, I got to draw a funny mustache on my face every night that was always crooked. To this day it’s hard for me to do my own make up in the mirror.”

Since then, he has worked with many of the theatre companies in Fresno including Good Company Players, Organic Theater Factory, and Children’s Musical Theaterworks. Some of the many shows he has been in include Hairspray, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The Drowsy Chaperone, The Wiz and Fresno Grand Opera’s production of Show Boat. “To count off some favorites, I was in three really great shows within the past year: Ordinary Days, Singin’ in the Rain, and Spring Awakening. All three were very different yet very rewarding experiences that involved working with some of the most wonderful people you will ever meet.”

Daniel and Dominic in Drowsy Chaperone

Local actress Ashley Taylor worked with Dominic in two of those shows-Ordinary Days and Spring Awakening. She first met Dominic when he was only 15. “I’ve never forgotten it. He came up to me backstage, introduced himself and said, ‘I just wanted to let you know, I think you’re amazing.’ But the thing is, I think HE is the amazing one. He’s just so incredibly talented, but more than that, the joy he brings to every performance is inspiring.”

Dominic and Ashley in Spring Awakening

“Dominic is an absolute joy to work with,” shared local actor Terry Lewis, who also worked with Dominic in Ordinary Days. “His total enthusiasm for performing seems to just radiate out of his pores. He is very serious and dedicated about being a performer, and works very hard to polish his skills. He is the kind of performer that is willing to put in long hours outside of rehearsal to get things right, and that is why directors (and fellow actors) love to work with him. On top of that, he’s just an all-around lovable guy.”

Ashley, Terry, Dominic and Taylor Abels in Ordinary Days

In another of those three shows, Singin’ In The Rain, Dominic got the chance to show off his dancing. “I love dance shows. I’ve always liked to dance,” said Dominic. “When I was a kid I watched Michael Jackson’s Thriller over and over until I memorized every step, and every flick of the hands. It’s funny though because when I started auditioning and doing musicals I wasn’t very good. I still don’t consider myself a ‘Dancer’ dancer.”

Check out this video interview with Dominic and Daniel where they talk about learning to tap dance:

Dominic’s dancing partner in Singin’ In The Rain was Daniel Hernandez, who he has partnered up with in several shows. “I’ve performed alongside Dominic in over ten shows, and each one has been a pleasure. His dedication to his performance inspires you to do better. My favorite thing about Dominic is his passion to learn. I had a blast learning how to tap with him in 2011, and since then we were able to perform in Singin’ In The Rain together. That was a huge challenge to learn all of that tap, but Dominic and I worked every morning to build up our skill for the show. He truly loves to learn new things, and he never gives up. He is the best kind of performer because he never stops working hard!”

Daniel and Dominic in Singin' In The Rain

The role of Cosmo in Singin’ In The Rain was actually one of Dominic’s dream roles, and he is thrilled to have gotten the chance to play it. He would also love to play Tony in West Side Story, “even though I’m Hispanic and that would look odd. I also have a goal to play every male character in, In the Heights.”

One thing Dominic loves the most about performing is challenging his voice and reaching those higher notes. “I enjoy harmonizing with my friends when we hang out who regularly test my pitch!”

He finds his biggest challenge in performing can be the acting, as so far he has had more singing and dancing type roles than ones that really call for a lot of acting. “But of the ones I’ve taken on it can be hard to try and put yourself in the mindset of your character and think what they are thinking or understanding why they react to their surroundings the way they do. When you do figure it and it clicks, however, it’s the most fulfilling feeling.”

Dominic has found that the best teacher is getting out there and just doing it. “It’s the best experience, and more times than not it’s absolutely free. You can spend so much money on acting workshops, dance classes, voice lessons and that’s fine! Power to you. However, you can get some of the best training by working with local companies. I owe everything I know to Good Company Players. I’ve learned invaluable skills not only in acting and dancing, but also in professionalism.”

As to others who are thinking about acting, Dominic recommends that they just get out there and go for it, as you never know what you’re missing until you try. “You just gotta take that first step into your first audition and the rest will fall into place. That’s exactly what I and my colleagues did. We were all where you are right at one point.”

Left to right front row -Steve Souza, Chris Carsten, Dominic Grijalva, Daniel Hernandez, Teddy Maldonado currently on stage in Spamalot

Family is very important to Dominic and he considers his family to be his heroes. “Namely my mother and my grandmother. Although we lost my grandmother, Yolanda, only a few months ago to Lung Cancer, I can still think about what she do in any situation and apply that to myself, which is usually something like ‘Think Smart’ and ‘Take a jacket.’ But in all sincerity, my family is my support system. I love my family more than anything in the world and I will always have their back.”

Currently Dominic attends Fresno City and works as a Graphic Designer for California Creative Group. He is also an acting coach and media administrator for The Talent Shop, and part of the team that puts together the online talk show Basically Brandon. He feels he is blessed to be able to sing and dance every night for fun, and design for profit. “I couldn’t be happier! I hope that in the future either of these hobbies turn into full fledged careers. It would be a dream to support a family doing what I truly love.”

As to the future, he would love to go into entertainment marketing. “I already have a name picked out. DOMG Marketing. Get it? It’s like someone saying ‘OMG’ except that it’s my name… clever right?”

Dominic is currently on stage in Spamalot at Roger Rocka’s, closing this weekend. Check out this video interview with Dominic and other cast members:

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and an enthusiastic contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds. Explore Lorie’s mystery writing at Mysteryrat’s Closet.

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