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»  2005 News
»  In The News — The Wickenburg Sun
»  In The News — Santa Fe Film Fest Review

Don Juan and Miguel, Sword Fighting Comedy Renaissance Festival News

'The Lost Princess' found in Wickenburg

By Angela Marston-Halifax, Special to The Sun

When Dakota Granados moved here four years ago with her family, she was a "little skeptical" about moving into a small town like Wickenburg. Now she can't imagine living anywhere else.

"You can drive down the road, and people you don't even know will wave at you," she noted. "I think it's such a rare thing nowadays to live in a town that you can walk down the street and feel totally safe. With every year that passes, I love living here more and more."

Dakota (now 18) began her acting career at the age of 8 performing with the comic sword-fighting team of "Don Juan and Miguel" (Dakota's father Jose Granados as Don Juan and Doug Kondziolka as Miguel). They travel throughout the U.S. performing at Renaissance Festivals most of the year.

Dakota's role is that of "Esmeralda," a sword-fighting, whip-snapping stow-a-way.

"I have done a little bit of sword fighting in our shows and it's always been a lot of fun, but I don't think I was ever meant to have a sword in my hand," she said. "I've taken lessons with some great teachers, including my father, but I was never able to pick it up with much skill or grace . . . both of which are much needed attributes in sword-fighting. But I have always thought it is such a beautiful skill, and I might try to learn again in the near future."

Dakota is described as being a "whipmaster,"

"As for what a 'whipmaster' is ... I'm not really sure," explained the young actress. "All I know is what my abilities are and what I am capable of doing. Like being able to cut a target an eighth of an inch long out of someone's fingers and rarely ever missing. Or doing more advanced tricks that people haven't seen before.

"Just being open to learning new things is maybe what it's more about," she added. "I believe if you think you're the best at something, then you'll never be able to get any better. Maybe I'm not a whipmaster right now ... maybe I'm just a whippersnapper!"

"The Lost Princess" is Dakota's second film, in which she has the starring role.

The movie was shot at the Scarborough Renaissance Festival in 2004. There are about 200 cast members involved, plus the production crew.

The basic story is this: The Princess Esmeralda is separated from her father Don Juan, the Prince of Spain and his faithful sidekick Miguel. While they are sent on their own quest of epic proportions, Esmeralda single-handedly faces Krankenmal's secret weapon, "The Fly."

"It's a comedy at heart, but it has a lot of action and adventure in it as well," Dakota explained. "For instance, when my character has to fight 'The Fly' (played by martial arts fighter Thayr Harris), we spent days and days rehearsing before any film was ever shot. At one point, 'The Fly' is supposed to throw a knife at me that sticks in the wall - barely missing my head. I believe that was the only time during the filming of the entire movie that I was the least bit nervous about something I had to do.

"Even my dad didn't come to the set that day," she continued to explain. "He said he wouldn't be able to watch knives being thrown take after take at his daughter.

"I had the best time ever making this film! So many of the people involved in making this movie are like extended family to me."

The Lost Princess premiered on April 28 in Dallas, Texas.

"The premier of the movie was fantastic," Dakota said. "Honestly, I was pretty nervous, but all went well and everyone really enjoyed the movie. It was great to get together with some of the cast again, and so many of our fans came out to see the movie and wish us well.

"What's really funny though, is that in all the excitement of the night, my dad and I completely forgot to eat anything all evening," Dakota added. "So, when we got back to the hotel we were so hungry that we got two TV dinners from the hotel store. But the thing is, there was no silverware anywhere to be found, and the only thing we did have were those little plastic coffee stirrers. So there we were, just back from the glamorous premiere of our first feature film, sitting in a hotel eating a TV dinner with a straw. We sure know how to keep ourselves grounded."

Dakota, who had been home-schooled while residing in Wickenburg due to all the traveling, enjoys knitting, sewing and just being crafty.

"I'm always knitting all kinds of hats and backpacks for my friends," she reported. "I'm one of those people who likes to have something to do. I have always enjoyed horseback riding. If I didn't live a life where I had to travel so much, I would definitely have horses." Dakota also loves watching and collecting DVDs.

"I have always been a big fan of older movies like 'The Bad Seed' or 'The Wizard of Oz.' I always wish I could go back in time and film movies in the 1930s or 40s. I think it would be so much fun."

What's in Dakota's future?

"I would really like to pursue acting in a more mainstream way," she said."But I feel to be successful in doing that, I need to take some time and study acting more seriously," she added. "I am going to finish the rest of the fairs we have lined up for this year, and I am also doing the Arizona Renaissance Festival next February. After that, I think I'm going to look into some acting schools around the country.

"As far back as I can remember, I have always wanted to be an actress," she concluded. "Now with all the work I've done in the past and with 'The Lost Princess' being so highly accepted, I can almost feel my dream becoming more of a reality.

"I'm not sure where I'll be, or what I'll be doing in the future, but for right now I couldn't be any happier with the direction my career is heading."

"The Lost Princess" is now available on DVD at www.donjuanandmiguel.com.

Originally posted to the web in News, on Wednesday, May 25, 2005 4:33 PM CDT. http://www.wickenburgsun.com/articles/2005/05/25/news/news02.txt





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