Ilda Mason – Muscle Is Self Expression

Ilda head shot

“I love dancing because I can be and show different aspects of myself when I perform.”

Ilda Mason

Q: Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Panamá City, Panamá.

Q: How did dance become a part of your life?

I started ballet when I was about 5 years old; however, my parents allowed me to enroll in every possible activity I could. My schedule was so busy as a child/teenager it forced me to stop taking classes. But, Ballet was the one thing I always had to come back to. I missed being on stage, I felt it was something I could be very good at.

Q: Why do you love dance?

I love dancing because I can be and show different aspects of myself when I perform. I can be really delicate in Ballet, sexy dancing Cha-cha, elegant in a Quickstep, or fierce in a Tango. Dancing gives me an incredible freedom of expression that I believe only art gives people.

Ilda on Dancing with the Stars Panama Tango and Paso Doble

Q: What style are you trained in?

I’m trained in Classical ballet, Jazz and Ballroom.

Ilda on Dancing with the Stars Panama

Q: If dance was not an option, what would your career choice be?

I would be an actress, but if I had to choose a “normal” career I would be an Architect (I actually am a Structural Architect).

Q: What is a typical day like for you?

A typical day in my life starts at 6:30 a.m. with a big breakfast to make the day perfect and then I’m off to classes at the New York Film Academy all day until 7:00 p.m. My classes are immediately followed by rehearsals for NYFA’s fall production of The Wedding Singer until 10:30 p..m. Then, after rehearsals, I’m headed back home to cook a delicious meal for the next day. I’m usually in bed by 12:30, if I’m lucky. Sleep is so dear to me.

Q: Talk about the demand that dancing professionally takes on your body.

When dancing professionally, your body is your tool. Not only must you be in shape, but you must be very careful not to injure yourself. It’s about discipline: warming up, avoiding any behavior that could result in an injury (in my case, not jumping around or running down the stairs no matter how late I might be to catch a train) and taking care of any injuries you may already have. As a dancer, you are nothing without a healthy, working body. It’s incredible how a tiny muscle pain can prevent you from doing your passion/job. It is really scary.

Q: What’s your best memory of dance?

I am one of the professionals in the dancing pairs of the show Dancing With the Stars Panama. My best memory is the moment the results were announced during the finale that my celebrity dance partner and I were the Dancing with the Stars Panama 2013 champions! For the last three weeks, we had been sent to dance duels to see who would stay in the competition. We didn’t think we would make it. He and I fought, we were exhausted, but we worked really hard, and it paid off. That Mirror Ball Trophy was ours! I felt pure glory.

Q: What’s your worst memory?

During the eighth week of the first season of Dancing with the Stars Panama, after our first perfect score of 30, we were sent to the dance duel and although we had an amazing Quickstep planned, with a mind blowing trick to finish it all off, everything went wrong. The nerves were high, my partner forgot the steps and I failed as a dancer to guide him. To top it all off, our costumes somehow got tangled up, forcing us to stick together and preventing us from doing any type of choreographed movement (including our final trick). Those were the worst 30 seconds of my dancing life. I remember thinking to myself,”this is it, all this hard work and we’re going home tonight,” and we did. It was devastating, but I learned so much about never letting my guard down. Whenever my feet hit that stage, no matter how great the score we may get, we need to be prepared to duel, and dance like we were putting our whole box of tricks out there on the dance floor. It worked the next year.

Q: What other training do you do to stay in shape?

I have a crazy schedule at NYFA, but I recently got a pair of rollerblades that allow me to have fun while working out. It IS a great, great workout!

Q: Do you have to watch what you eat? If so, what is a typical meal for you?

I have never had to watch what I eat until this year. I think I’m at that time in my mid-twenties where I can say I’ve enjoyed eating everything I’ve ever wanted (and I still do sometimes) but now I must try to balance things out and think a bit more about how I’m nourishing my body.

Q: MCBMI is a voice to encourage women to become more active, what do you believe are some of the issues with women and fitness?

I think it’s very easy to be caught up with a busy schedule and a hectic life. What happens is, there’s almost no time to cook your own meals, to do a sport, or to get away from the sedentary hours at work. At the same time, every fast food restaurant you can imagine is available to tempt you (tempt ME) into eating something fast and yummy, but definitely bad for you. It requires an extra effort to be healthy in such a crazy city like New York.

Q: Why did you agree to be part of MCBMI?

I agreed to be part of MCBMI because I believe this is a great initiative. Striving for a healthier lifestyle and taking care of your body is not on everyone’s mind, so we should take advantage of every chance there is to raise awareness towards it. Everyone can somehow work on being more active in a fun, enjoyable way.