Maria Lucero-Ospino has been coaching dance for 11 years. She has been volunteering her time and serving others through a relentless passion to make a difference in this community.
The result of her desire is the movement outfit known as Mystic Dance.
"I wanted to give kids a safe place to be themselves, so I started Mystic Dance," said Lucero-Ospino, who knows the struggles of being a young mom, but nonetheless pursued her studies. "It hasn't been easy."
"The most amazing things about these kids is their love for dance," said Lucero-Ospino, who stressed that her kids don't merely follow a standard choreography for the sake of following. "These kids dance with their hearts. This is a trait that's hard to find."
This has paid dividends as this older group of teenage dancers has found success on the national stage.
In March 2018 the Mystic All-star team won a "Golden Ticket" to the World of Dance Championship in Secaucus, New Jersey at the Nexstar Dance Competition in Denver, Colorado - their fifth national championship since 2012.
In 2014 Mystic also won a golden ticket to the same Worlds of Dance Championship but dancers were unable to raise enough money to attend worlds.
"As a coach, I vowed to not let this happen again," said Lucero-Ospino.
"Over the years these kids have been able to travel and compete all over. We could never have done this without the help of the Taos community," said Lucero-Ospino. "We are asking for help again."
A younger set of Mystic dancers have also garnered notoriety on a national level. In February 2018 at the Star Quest Dance competition Talia Rodriguez, 9, Ciara Lewis, 9, Alexis Fernandez, 10, and Angelica Gonzales,10, won scholarships to Broadway Dance Dreams in New York City. This younger group is hoping to attend this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity - a mere 26 miles away from the older group.
"The type of dance we do isn't always easy. It takes a ton of hard work and lots of long hours," said Lucero-Ospino, alluding to the blood, sweat and tears that dancers (literally) leave on the floor. "But the passion they have keeps me pushing for them."
"Maria is awesome," said dancer, Andres de la Cruz. "She is the reason we love being a part of this group. She makes us a family"
This family of dancers have strange superstitions.
"We have a lucky rock that we carry to all competitions," said de la Cruz. "We all rub the rock before we go on."
The team also carries a piece of wood to knock on if there is talk about injury or if kids from another group sends bad vibes before they get on stage.
"We know it sounds funny, but as a team we believe these weird things help," said several of the dancers.
On Saturday (June 2) Mystic will be holding a fundraising carnival at the Kit Carson Park. There will be food, music, a car show, entertainment, rides and games. "This is open to everyone, and we're asking folks to please come and support our dancers," said Lucero-Ospino, "Our motto is 'Worlds or bust!' I am really determined to get these kids to New York and New Jersey."
2012 Universal Dance Association International Championship (ESPN Center in Orlando, Florida)
2012 Regional and Divisional Champs in New Mexico
2013 Second place, UDA International Dance Competition (ESPN CENTER)
2013 Regional and Divisional Champs in New Mexico and Colorado
2014 First national title in Anaheim, California in the Hip Hop Category
2014 Regional and Divisional Champs in New Mexico and Colorado
2015 Second national title in Las Vegas, Nevada
2015 Regional and Divisional Championships in New Mexico and Colorado
2016 Third national title in Anaheim, California at the American Dance Championship
2016 Regional and Divisional Championships in New Mexico
2017 Fourth national title in Las Vegas, Nevada (MGM Grand)
2017 Regional and Divisional Champs in New Mexico and Colorado