Anais Crespo Peña, who is 12-years-old, has been dancing for nine years. This year, her years of experience are culminating in multiple performances as the 2011 Junior Spirit of Fiesta.
Peña hails from St. Raphael School, and her mother was Junior Spirit in the 1971. She enjoys swimming, water and snow skiing, and, of course, flamenco dancing. She was selected as the Junior Spirit after a preliminary elimination round, followed by an interview and a second audition viewed by professional dance judges. Since then, she has been traveling around Santa Barbara with Spirit Marisa Leon-Haro, performing and posing for photo shoots. “Marisa’s like a sister to me,” Peña said.
Peña is more than ready for the upcoming Fiesta; she’s especially excited to be leading El Desfile de los Niños (the Children’s Parade; see Fiesta Listings) and dancing at La Fiesta Pequeña, which officially opens Fiesta (see Fiesta Listings), on the steps of the Santa Barbara Mission as the sun goes down.
One day, she hopes to become the Spirit of the Fiesta. “I’ve heard it is a lot harder to become the Spirit,” she said. “You have to really want it.” She thinks it will require her to take big strides in her dancing, but she certainly has the right attitude, mind, and motivation to continue succeeding as a flamenco dancer.