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Filipina mother-daughter dance team competes on New CBS series

By Jana Monji, AsAmNews Arts & Culture Writer

A Las Vegas-based Filipina American mother-daughter team is vying for a $100,000 grand prize in a new CBS family dance competition series, Come Dance with Me, that premieres tonight, Friday, April 15.  Team Emelyn and Nicole Yniguez are one of 12 teams who were sequestered in Australia to film this series. 

Grammy Award-winning songwriter Philip Lawrence hosts the series which was created and is executive produced by the stars of CBS’ NCIS: Los Angeles stars Chris O’Donnell, LL Cool J, and 3 Ball Productions. The judges are actress/dancer Jenna Dewan, professional celebrity dancer Dexter Mayfield, and hip hop choreographer Tricia Miranda. Throughout the season, each duo will learn and perform different styles of dance. 

Filipina American Emelyn (@emelynyniguez) and Nicole (@mommytipsbycole) communicated via email about their experiences. 

Nicole Yniguez 

Q: Did you dance at all during your childhood? Formally or informally? 

Nicole Yniguez:  I’ve always had a love for singing, music, and performing and always wanted to dance. Unfortunately, my parents both worked full-time in NYC while I was looked after by relatives who could not drive me to activities after school. The extent of my training was taking 1 ballet/tap class at 8yrs old because I begged my mom to let me try for a year, after that I never got to return. I did learn some ballroom dances for my Sweet 16 Cotillion. As a competitive Choir singer, I used to audition for main roles in Musical Theater but would always get beat out by kids that had formal dance training. Being Filipino I’d like to think I’ve always had a natural rhythm since we all love to sing and dance lol. Dancing is something I always wanted to pursue but never had the opportunity to do so…till now.

Q: What is your day job?

Nicole Yniguez:  I am a Social Media Consultant and YouTube Content Creator. I’ve been creating content online for 11 years this May. Something that started out as a hobby as a stay-at-home mom, grew into a career. I also work for my kids current Dance Studio (Dance Connection) in Las Vegas as well as remotely for our original dance studio (Across the Floor) in New Jersey.

Q: What does your husband do?

Nicole Yniguez: My husband is a Full-Time Lyft Driver.

Q: Why did you decide to enroll your daughter in a dance class and why Dance Connections? 

Nicole Yniguez:  When Emelyn was 2 years old, I enrolled her in some dance and gymnastics on and off because it was difficult to take her to classes. I remember having to climb two flights of stairs holding her hand, carrying my one-year-old and eight months pregnant with my third child. It was a few years before I re-enrolled her again,  but it wasn’t till she was six years old that I started working at Across the Floor. The studio owner coincidentally was the choreographer of my Sweet 16 cotillion and she was looking for a trustworthy mom to work at the studio. Because I had kids they suggested they enroll in dance. When she saw the potential in Emelyn, she quickly had her take double classes of every genre to catch her up. Eventually, her passion grew and she wanted to be a competitive dancer. Three years later we moved to Las Vegas and that is how we ended up at Dance Connection. I was worried that I would have to cut back significantly on classes for my kids but thankfully enough Dance Connection offered me a job and scholarships for the kids so they could still train and compete.

Q: Do her other siblings also dance?

Nicole Yniguez:  Yes all 4 of my kids are competitive dancers. Emelyn, 14; Maliya, 12;  Dylan, 11 and my youngest daughter Colby, 6, is now doing her first year of competitions.

Q: Did this competition inspire her siblings in any way? 

Nicole Yniguez: Yes I feel that the CDWM show has inspired my other kids to keep pursuing their passions in general, whether it be dance, music, school clubs etc. It’s inspiring for kids to see Emelyn following her dreams.

Q: What did you learn about yourself during this competition?

Nicole Yniguez: I’ve learned that I still got it even at 40 (my age when we filmed the show)! No matter your age you really can do anything you set your mind to. Well with the help of many professional choreographers of course lol.

Q: What did you learn about your daughter? 

Nicole Yniguez:  I’ve learned that what Emelyn does is not easy! The amount of strength it takes physically, mentally, and emotionally to be a performer is something I never fully understood till this experience. It’s so easy to be a sideline mom telling your child to smile more, point your toes and give more energy. But when I was literally put in her shoes. What a wake-up call that was!!! I will never critique my kids that way again because now I really know just how hard it is to do what they do on a daily basis?!

Q: Do you have a favorite dance style?

Nicole Yniguez:  ‘Although I would love to say Hip Hop since that’s one of my favorite styles of music to listen to, I just can’t move my body the way Emelyn does so effortlessly. I think ballroom suits me most, it feels more natural to move my hips than pop and lock!

Q: How was Sydney, Australia? Had you been there before?

Nicole Yniguez: Sydney was beautiful, although we spent the two-week duration of our time in quarantine before flying to Melbourne for filming. We did have a balcony at least and got to visit the Sydney Opera House for two hours before our flight the day we got out of quarantine.

Q: Did you get to see anything cool?

Nicole Yniguez: Our schedule once we got to Melbourne was insanely tight. Days off consisted of grocery shopping, going to PT appointments, and shopping for clothing we needed for interviews. So I didn’t get to see as much as Emelyn. During a long practice day for the parents, the kids got to go to the zoo and see koalas and kangaroos…something I wish we got to do. Sadly enough during filming Melbourne did go into a strict lockdown, while we were deemed as essential to work, we were not able to visit anywhere other than the rehearsal space, filming set, and the grocery store.

Q: What’s the funniest/weirdest/coolest thing that happened to you during those two months? 

Nicole Yniguez: The coolest thing to happen in those two months in Australia was getting to know the other cast members. It’s one of our biggest takeaways from the show…even though it was a competition, we really grew into a family away from home and all still keep in contact to this day.

Q: What’s your favorite moment or routine or costume that we should look out for? 

Nicole Yniguez: Our favorite routine is a sentimental one dedicated to Emelyn’s late paternal grandmother who passed away of cancer in 2016. We know she was looking down on us so proud. She would have loved this show, as we used to watch all of the competition shows together. She was a hardcore fan and would make all of us call in to vote for her favorite competitor.

Emelyn Yniguez:

Q: What kind of dance do you like?

Emelyn Yniguez: My favorite dance style is Hip Hop. Although I am trained in all styles ballet, jazz, contemporary, lyrical, tap, ballroom, and gymnastics.

Q: Who are your favorite dancers?

Emelyn Yniguez: Some of my favorite dancers and performers are Jlo, Beyonce, Usher, and Neyo. My dream is to one day tour with one of them!

Q: Who are your favorite choreographers?

Emelyn Yniguez: Some of my favorite hip-hop choreographers are Tricia Miranda, Nika Kljun, Ysabelle Capitule, Amari Smith, Gabe De Guzman.

Q: What is your favorite dance style? 

Emelyn Yniguez: Hip Hop is my specialty and favorite Style.

Q: What is your favorite dance movie? 

Emelyn Yniguez: Some of my favorite dance movies are “Step Up” and “Bring It On.”

Q: Do you follow any dance/talent programs?

Emelyn Yniguez: Other than training at my studio and doing competitions with my dance company I also attend Hip Hop conventions such as Kaos & Monsters.

Q: Why did you want to do this competition?

Emelyn Yniguez:I wanted the opportunity to learn from incredible choreographers and to have a memorable once-in-a-lifetime experience with my Mom.

Q: What did you learn about yourself? 

Emelyn Yniguez: I learned that I’m capable of more than I ever imagined and to always stay true to myself and be confident in my abilities.

Q: What did you learn about your mother?

Emelyn Yniguez: I learned that my Mom can actually dance and that she is an inspiration to sacrifice so much for me to pursue my dreams and passions.

Q: What do you want to do next? 

Emelyn Yniguez: I want to continue working in LA as a professional dancer signed with Bloc LA and hopefully one day tour with a high-profile artist when I’m older.

Q: How was Sydney, Australia? Had you been there before?

Emelyn Yniguez: Sydney and Melbourne were beautiful. It was my first time ever out of the country.

Q: Did you get to see anything cool?

Emelyn Yniguez: Yes we got to see the Sydney Opera house and I got to pet koalas and kangaroos at the zoo!

Q: What’s the funniest/weirdest/coolest thing that happened to you during those two months? 

Emelyn Yniguez: The coolest thing was all time I got to spend with the other kids on the show! We were super busy but we bonded so much during our free time/off days and during school on set.

Q: What’s your favorite moment or routine or costume that we should look out for? 

My favorite routine is the one dedicated to my Mama (Mercedes Yniguez) who passed away of cancer.

Come Dance with Me, Series Premiere, Friday, April 15, 8/7c, on CBS. The series is available to stream live and on-demand through  Paramount+. 

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