Tag Archives: dance

Exploring Culture through Dance

By Juliette Chirol Hill

At a very young age, I absolutely detested children’s ballet classes, because putting on tights was a real pain.  Ten years later, ballet has become my favorite form of dance.  The vocabulary of ballet mostly comes from the language my mother speaks: French.  So, over the years, my ballet instructors would often asked me how to pronounce various French ballet words  such as “déboulés” and so on.  I have always loved those cultural moments, especially since finding another French person in my neighborhood was as likely as finding authentic French crèpes in a local pancake shop.  Ballet, like my French culture, is now part of me in the way I move and in the way I think.

Following a growing interest for Indian culture, my parents encouraged me to take Bollywood dance classes. Since by this point, I was practically exclusively listening to Bollywood songs and watching Bollywood movies, I fit right in with the Indian dancers who had grown up with all those tunes and films.  Occasionally, I would amaze my friends by mouthing songs they would never have expected a non-native to know.  Since this style of dance is so different from the unyielding poses in ballet, which I had practiced my whole life, it was a difficult transition.  The hand positions proved to be particularly tricky in all their intricacies (quickly switching between the “lotus,” “peacock,” and “deer” challenged me for a few weeks).  With the help of the dancers who had grown up in this style, I was able to improve my technique, and in turn, I taught them how to do ballet “déboulés” and useful stretches.  Bollywood dance provided me with some of the most fun I ever had dancing, with so much life and energy bouncing between the dancers who pushed through their exhaustion and still managed to nail difficult moves to the beat of the music.

Arriving at USC, I wasn’t sure how I would fill in the gap that both ballet and Bollywood dance had left in me and so I started searching for dance clubs.  I soon tiptoed into USC’s Traditional Chinese Dance. Once again, I surprised most of the members by the fact that I spoke Chinese without much of an American accent.  So we got along right away.  Chinese dance styles being much closer to ballet in the postures and footwork, most of the combinations were second nature for me, but unfortunately, not for all of us.  Like my friends in the Bollywood classes who had helped me through my clumsiness in my early steps, I helped the USC dancers who were toiling, even sharing tricks I had learned to make the movements work and look best.

Languages and dance, two completely different but nonetheless powerful forms of communication, are the two mediums that have allowed me to find a home within cultures, regardless of whether I was born into them or not.  And I’m thankful to be in a country where it is so easy to experience all these cultures, whether it be through verbal interactions or through dance.

Juliette  is currently majoring in computer science at the Viterbi School of Engineering, with a potential minor in linguistics.  She is local from Los Angeles, but has traveled to both Europe and Asia several times.  On her free time, she likes to dance, watch films, read, do puzzles, and learn Chinese and Hindi.

Turning Dreams Into Reality through USC’s “Dance Off”

By Sabrina Hsu

Everyone enters freshmen year of college with a mixture of anticipation and apprehension – I was no different. Growing up as an international student, transferring from school to school in itself wasn’t as intimidating as knowing it would take a while to integrate into the already-established friend groups in the school. So when I entered USC, I put all my hopes into the Fall Semester Involvement Fair, wishing for an organization that would catch my eye and help me find a group of people with common interests. Out of all the clubs and activities I joined, Dance-Off was the one I had least expectations for, but it is not an exaggeration to say it was the one that changed my life.

KASA Dance-Off is a competition for fall semester freshmen dancers with all levels of experience. As someone who never danced hip-hop before, I went to the first dance workshop with no intention of staying for the rest of the semester. But the passionate and family-oriented atmosphere that surrounded me when I danced with this group of people drew me in, and before I knew it, I was looking forward to the workshops every week. Of course, it was tough – two weeks before competition we practiced dance more than we did anything else, including sleeping and eating. But ultimately, our success during the competition, and the bonding and friendship that came out of the hours and hours of practice and “suffering” were worth it.

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Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect at EDC

By Hanako Tjia (MSW Candidate 2016)

Having just moved to Los Angeles from Toronto, I was looking forward to all the American-style road trips I would have during my summer vacation. Of the ones I went on, the most memorable trip was my get-away to the Electric Daisy Carnival (aka EDC), an epic three day music and performance-driven extravaganza located at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  The annual EDC features all sorts of entertainment, from Electronica music to carnival rides to circus-like performances to interactive art installations.  On top of witnessing a visually spectacular scene, from the moment you walk in, you are surrounded by and fully immersed in the Electronica music culture from which EDC originally emerged – the principle of P.L.U.R (Peace, Love, Unity and Respect). With that said, EDC was beyond my expectations. 35,000 people attended this music celebration, taking over the Las Vegas Strip during the day and the Motor Speedway at night.

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