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.

Through DO, I watched myself grow both as a dancer and a person. I learned to stick to my passions no matter how many obstacles came at it, and to persevere no matter what the circumstances were. I made the best friends I could ever ask for – ones that would pester me to go to the hospital when I was sick or bring me food when I was too injured to get out of bed. Due to an injury, I had to take prescribed painkillers in order to dance during the competition, and was on crutches for the last few weeks of practice. My DO family carried my plates in the dining hall, encouraged me when I was in pain, and carried me on stage when we placed third for the competition. They never left me behind – they always made sure I was part of the family and respected my wishes to continue with the competition even though I was injured.

It takes me a few minutes every morning to realize my first semester of college wasn’t a dream. Dance-off and the friends/family I’ve made through DO not only made my first few months of college the best I could ever ask for, but also showed me a self I never knew I had. I applied to be on the board for DO this semester because I wish to be there to guide future dancers, to share this experience and show them what it feels like to shed tears of joy when your hard work is paid off with a satisfactory performance on stage. Everyone should have the chance to find a group of friends that will support them through thick and thin, and to have a safe haven where mistakes are seen as milestones to growth. I want to be there to lead and guide the next group of DO babies and show them the dream that became my reality.

College is a time to explore the things you never were able to do in high school. It’s a time to step out of comfort zones and explore boundaries. I never regretted a single moment of the long and tiring process of rehearsals for the competition because everything I got out of it was priceless.

Sabrina is a sophomore studying Health and Human Sciences and minoring in Chinese for Professions and Managing Human Relations. Though born around the Bay Area, Sabrina moved to Shanghai, China at the age of 8 and has since then attended different international schools. She has 4 years of tutoring experience both in student organizations in her high school and outside of school. She was also a member of the National English Honor Society and took part in the Writing Center, which focused on editing student’s essays and helping students with their English classes. In her free time, Sabrina loves reading, hanging out with friends (exploring LA), and doing anything that makes her happy.