Mexican professional dancer Daniel Zapata Colón reunites with mom in U.S. after 20 years

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Daniel Zapata Colón had not seen his mother since he was a young boy in Acapulco, Mexico. She had left for the U.S. in 1999, hoping the move would lead to a better life for her son.

“I had to build a future for him and that was why we decided to come,” Araceli Colón, Daniel’s mother, told Telemundo Arizona in Spanish.

But their more than 20-year separation came to an end last week when Daniel, a professional dancer, came to the U.S. to compete in a Latin dance championship. It was also the perfect opportunity to stop by Phoenix, where his mother lives, and give her the hug he had long yearned for.

“My dream was to be with my mother again, and it is something that I just fulfilled,” Daniel told Telemundo Arizona in Spanish as he sat for an interview alongside his mother. “I feel completely me; it was the only piece that was missing in my heart and in my life.”

Araceli recalled “crying, crying, crying, crying all the time” after she relocated to the U.S. and left her son with his grandmother in Acapulco. “Afterwards I had to adapt to the circumstances and work, work, work” to provide for them from afar, she said.

Thousands of miles apart, Araceli was the main breadwinner for her son, but Daniel had to learn how to grow up without her. Dance, Daniel said, helped him channel the pain that came with being apart from his mother for so long.

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“My inspiration has always been rooted in that pain,” Daniel said. “For me, it is about grabbing that strength and embracing that feeling and dance.”

Daniel has won several titles competing in world dance championships in dozens of countries. Most recently, he placed third as a solo dancer in the bachata music category at The Summit world Latin dance competition in Orlando, Florida.

Daniel will be traveling to France for his next competition, he told Telemundo Arizona. He said he hopes to continue traveling the world “wherever dance continues to take me, because with dance I break boundaries.”

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