The name Malena means Gentle One in Greek, From the Tower in Swedish, is short for Magdalena in Spanish, and also holds significance in a number of other languages. With such varied etymology, it’s no wonder that Malena DePersis is a woman of colorful origin who has grown into eclectic tastes herself.
Born in Santa Ana, CA in her (own) backyard…quite literally, Malena entered this world in an unorthodox, somewhat artistic manner. So her nose ring wearing, individual style simply comes with the territory.
She first began partner dancing at ATOMIC at the tender age of 12. First with swing and then later fell in love with salsa and bachata. Years later Malena taught swing at ATOMIC for 3 years and still teaches here and there. Dance has always been extremely important to her, as her family always listened to music. “Music and I have been dancing my whole life,” she adds to illustrate just how much her musical upbringing shaped her dance career.
Her dance training consists of classes taken since adolescence and from current, frequent social dancing. Swing is still #1 in her heart, but since she’s inspired by fresh, new music and switching things up, she has found herself more drawn to the bachata scene. She says that she’d also be keen on trying less familiar styles like Afrobeats or Brazilian samba. Unlike most, Malena doesn’t have a favorite artist or performer because she simply likes too many to narrow them down to a select few.
Malena’s goals are to continue dancing, learning and being invited to teach at dance festivals. If she weren’t dancing she’s not sure what else she would be doing. On second thought (when urged), she corrects herself by saying that as a piano player for 12 years, that she’d probably focus more on that, along with photography. She is so dedicated to her craft that she goes out dancing 4-7 nights per week; literally with no day off sometimes! She proudly recounts the overwhelming support she gets from her loved ones, describing how much her family and friends love that she dances and love telling people all about it. She has never been part of any teams, however she has competed and has also performed in ATOMIC’s showcases plenty of times.
Malena doesn’t have a partner because she hasn’t found that person to trust enough yet. While she has made romantic connections through dance, Malena explains that it really depends on the other person. Explaining, “If we end things on good terms or even start out on the same page I am 100% OK (with dating in the scene). But if things don’t start out good, obviously like anything else it won’t end good.” And since the ballroom is like her second home, maintaining that safe space is important to her. She emphasized that her favorite thing about ATOMIC is the atmosphere, as she finds it to be very friendly, safe and wholesome.
Malena credits dance with helping in different areas of her life. From tremendous happiness to the weight loss she has experienced as a result of dance, Malena declares that it is her greatest passion. Further emphasizing, “If I go out dancing and I’m sad or angry, it’s so so hard to stay in that dark place once I start moving! Dancing is my passion so yes, it does help a lot!”
Her word of advice for anyone who’s scared to try (dance), or doesn’t think that they can do it is, “You have to try before you say no otherwise you could be missing out on something great! Dancing is for anyone. If you think you’re too old to dance, try anyway. If you think you can’t do it, try anyway. If you think dancing is dumb or wonder what’s the point, then you’re going to be very unhappy unless you’ve tried!”
Malena ultimately asserts that nothing would ever stop her dancing; not age, other people, nothing. Then she concludes by stating, “Dance is one of the best things you can do for yourself. If you don’t try you’ll never know if you can do something. Always give it a chance and most likely greatness will come of it!” Such wise words from such a young, rhythmic soul!
“The human heart beats approximately 4,000 times per hour and each pulse, each throb, each palpitation is a trophy engraved with the words ‘You are still alive, You are still alive. Act like it.’” -Rudy Francisco
“Love is not a thing to understand. Love is not a thing to feel. Love is not a thing to give and receive. Love is a thing only to become and eternally be.” -Vanessa Hernandez.
“Being In Total Control of Herself!” -RuPaul.
WOULD YOU HAVE GUESSED?
Loves reading, played piano for 12 years & is passionate about photography.
Has a fellow dancing sister Renata, who also shares the same cool curls & moves!
Loves the challenge of writing her own music so much that she’s working on her 5th song!