Ria DeCastroEvery so often, we’ll chat with an alum about what they do and how they got there. Today, we’re talking with Rhea Marasigan ’03, information systems management (with a dance minor) about what it’s like to juggle careers in graphic design and dance.

Name: Rhea Marasigan (A.K.A. “Ria DeCastro” on stage)
Job:  Graphic Designer, Dancer
Employers:  Spectrum Brands HHI and RheeDesigns (Marasigan’s side-business)
Based in: Los Angeles, California

Q:  You recently were featured on a dance webcast called DancePlug (click here to view)…what has been the highlight of your dance career thus far?

A:  The highlights of my dance career thus far since moving to Los Angeles, California are:

  1. Having the opportunity to dance alongside professional dancers and work with NappyTabs (Napolean and Tabitha D’umo of SYTYCD) on the set of 5 episodes of the Fox Show “MOBBED;”
  2. Being a background dancer extra on both Mandy Rain and Angelique Sabrina‘s music videos, and;
  3. Being able to back-up dance for Jazzlyn Marae for one of her performances. I would have never thought I’d EVER get an opportunity to do anything like this from just moving here from Baltimore three years ago but I know NOW that “Anything is possible.”

Q:  What is your favorite aspect of dance?

A:  When I went to UMBC back in 2000-2003, I took ballet, modern & jazz to learn the basic techniques to shape me into a better dancer. I am a better hip hop dancer because of it. I started late in the game at the age of 20 to pursue dance to where I’ve been on many MD dance teams (Fusion Dance Team, Dance Express, Charm City Cabaret) and now I’m starting to do that here in LA. I’m currently on Electric Crew where we are getting ready to perform in Disneyland in February and a Core dancer for a flashmob company called Dance Mob Nation.

My favorite aspect of dance is just being on a dance team that loves to dance, and have fun with no drama. The dance community here in LA is just that. There are a lot of dancers trying to make it here and there is an outlet for those dancers to come together and just dance. It can get competitive in the professional dance industry but if that’s NOT your cup of tea, you can still find other awesome outlets in the LA dance community to perform, compete, etc.

Q: Where do you hope to be in five years, dance-wise?

A:  In five years, I hope to still be dancing and performing or at least still taking dance classes. I have to say that I am now content with where my dance career has been. My focus is now on my design career.

Q: Tell us about your career in design. Does it ever intersect with your dance career?

A:  I’ve been a graphic designer for 13 years now (a freelance graphic designer — at RheeDesigns — on the side for 8 of those years) and I am continuing to learn and expand my skill sets. I am now looking into the film industry to start as a graphic designer to get my foot in the door but I’d love to delve into film editing and/or being an FX artist. I finished taking a film editing class this past fall and am now awaiting next fall 2013 to take After Effects.

I am dedicated to my work as a graphic designer so whenever there is a possible dance opportunity, I make sure it doesn’t affect that aspect of my life. I’ve been fortunate to be able to juggle both careers simultaneously and seamlessly. My full-time job supports my dance career so whenever I have a gig, I can always make arrangements so that both sides have a happy medium. But, of course, I can’t say “yes” to everything so I DO pick and choose the gigs that I want.

All in all, I am loving life right now doing 2 of my favorite passions and living in California where there is always an opportunity to get into.

Q:  How did your UMBC experience help shape who you are today?

A:  I loved my experience of the three years I was at UMBC. UMBC keeps up with the trends, technology and truly cares about their students and their goals. Even though I got a B.A. in information systems with a modern dance minor, UMBC still shaped me into what I am today. I learned that it takes hard work and dedication to get what you want in life and that resonated in me.

I remember in 2002 winning a UMBC dance competition against some boy break dancers and that in itself made me believe that dance was something I wanted to do in life. I loved that UMBC has specific events & clubs on campus that its students can take part in. It allows for students to get out and try new things, meet people and have fun doing it.

Learn more about Rhea’s design here, and her dance here.

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