Testimonials-Amanda Rosenberg Gutierrez, reigning Hip-Hop Queen-Part 2 – The Ukiah Daily Journal

If you’ve read my column, you realize that I believe in recognition; the consciousness of NOW in honoring and appreciating sports’ figures as they are accomplishing their considerable feats!  Why wait for a stodgy memorial (after death) or only glorious awards like the MVP of the NBA championships or a downhill skiing gold medal in the Olympic Games.  Let’s lengthen the leash holding us back from deep appreciation of someone in our midst!  However, I’m more reluctant to support the wholesale distribution of paper and ribbons and chintzy trophies to every kid on every squad of every league or every school.  Reserve those for distinctive performance!

We Do have sports heroes today in Ukiah!  Amanda, certainly is one of those!

So, if I were to stumble across a long line of kids and parents wrapped around the old St. Mary’s parish at Standley and Dora Streets, I would instantly suspect that the reigning queen of hip-hop in Ukiah, Amanda Rosenberg (Gutierrez now) was giving out autographs or kisses or a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a twisted weiner dog balloon or doing a do-si-do  with grandmas or just beaming her unforgettable smile.

This is an extraordinary human being, a true artist; a youth worker that takes every kid seriously and touches their heart(s).  The waif in the corner of a classroom? No problem!  The sulky teenager? Giggle City awaits.

Laurel Near’s words:   “ Amanda is everywhere! For years she has supervised teens performing dance in the parks, in the streets, at community events, at tribal education centers, assisting with choreography for quinceaneras, as well as hosting guest bay area and West African dance teachers in her classes. Her class for South Valley High School students, ‘Introduction to Performing Arts,’ has featured countless local and bay area artists who have worked with the teens.”

“Amanda has led hundreds of youth at the “Not-So-Secret Community Flashmob at Pumpkinfest and each year she teaches a local VIP to dance with the kids; these public figures have stepped up: the Sheriff, the Chief of Police and most recently UUSD Superintendent!”

“Amanda is a priceless bridge between the early SPACE years of touring prevention education shows throughout the county into present time– transitioning into the renovation of the building into a state-of-the-art theater. She has the “big picture” of what SPACE has been and what it could be in the future and has moved up through the ranks of leadership. Now in the age of COVID 19, she quickly became familiar with online classes, social media opportunities and editing videos as well as always taking ongoing workshops to increase her teaching skills.”

“If you know Amanda, you probably have experienced how she shines a light on other people’s successes and gifts. She does this genuinely and consistently with her students with all their nuanced learning styles.  If it’s happened to you, you know what I’m talking about! It seems effortless. At the end of her recitals, the house lights come on and she deftly leads kids and parents on how to “give credits,” handing the mic to each child and inviting them to share their appreciations and what they noticed went well. She then invites the audience of mostly parents and relatives to do the same. Amanda models this and the appreciations from parents are filled with gratitude. At the end she wraps it up by saying, “If you have more appreciations when you are leaving, don’t waste them, just keep giving them away!”

Even her own 17 years old daughter who shares the spotlight with the diminutive juggernaut has nice things to say about her.   Gwynivere will be a senior at UHS and is a fine dancer in her own rite.  I asked her if it was awkward to be Amanda’s child where mom is a big player (SPACE)?

“Do people treat you differently,?” I asked.  Gwynivere captures her mom’s essence this way:  “We have a really good dynamic; we match our energies really well when we work together.  I definitely do not avoid her at SPACE.  I mean, we just have so much energy and she is so positive all the time; I wouldn’t be able to clash with her because she’s so positive!  I’ve taken every class at Space.  I was really young, and my first show was called: “Flat Stanley with Joel  Shura;”  performing in the round….. and we were in the audience, which was cool.”

“At River Oak Charter School,” we had a field trip to Ashland, Oregon, and attended the Shakespeare Festival; now I want to go there to college; it’s called Southern Oregon University.”

Amanda revealed later that she hung out for Gwen’s chat with me, buried under a pillow so she wouldn’t influence the answers…haha!  What a mommy!

The support at home is crucial.  Here’s husband Mike:  “I help Amanda on the music production side with video and sound design; sound-effect stuff.  All my training is on the job and recording stuff for my design company; marketing in promotions, etc. Well, it’s handy to have me around for her; and she’s very handy for me also. She’s well known in the community; I get a little juice that way.  I’m from San Jose, but have spent half my years in Ukiahi at least (well, 34 years anyway).”

Here is parent Maria Ceja on Space and Amanda: “Amanda has been Adilene’s (now 13) dance teacher for 3+ years and when Addy first started SPACE at 9, she was very shy and quiet; and Amanda is very welcoming to children.  She makes them feel comfortable.  I noticed on the first day, she told her, ‘you can just watch , participate or not.’ She doesn’t pressure kids and knows her way around the children.  When they feel ready, they join in.  There really is something special about Amanda.   Addy always liked sports, but there was no sport she was passionate about.  At 4 years old, she was into dancing. I thought maybe, cheerleading (I put her in for a couple of years), but that was very hard on her.  Such a huge commitment; it’s tough on the kids.  You have to change eating habits and do extra exercising to bend and do it all.  But, in dance; it’s not as demanding.  Kids push themselves at their own pace.  A friend told me about SPACE, and I started talking to friends with children and decided to try them out.  She’d dance and sing and all in her room; but as soon as anyone would look at her; she would stop.  I doubted that she would like it, but Amanda allowed her to move at her own pace.  The way she talks and treats the kids…..wonderful.  Thanks to SPACE, Addy grew in performing arts and it helped her in her education.  At school, she is less afraid of public speaking and no longer afraid to speak out in class.  She just throws it all out there.  Space was what helped her. She was at Grace Hudson and now at Pomolita.  Space is affordable.  They have scholarships.  We think we don’t qualify, but we do.  Many things are taken into consideration.  Anything helps- $50 or more.  Full or partial scholarships.  Just a blessing.  I hold them close to my heart. They truly have done so much for Addy and myself; I never get tired of praising SPACE.”

And, Jake Bernie, whose son has been in SPACE (currently- Higher Ground ).  He started at 2 years old with Jim Beatty at Space and now is 16.  He’s gained much camaraderie and  got his closest friendships at SPACE.  He’s got a strong friendship with Amanda, his teacher.  He’s combined martial arts and dance to excel in both and it gave him stage presence.  From 6th-10th grade; he has been class president.  His skills from Amanda and other staff have evolved into a career of sorts as a dj at Pomolita and UHS (Winter Ball, the Prom).

Please comment on column to David Taxis (youngrey@comcast.net).

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