Urban Paradise

Urban Paradise 2014

Being a professional dancer means that I am constantly surrounding myself with dance related things. And while it is a little embarrassing to admit, I'll say it anyways: There are times when I get tired of dancing and feel uninspired to take class or even to create.

But before I ever sink too deeply into that negative ravine of boredom, I encounter people and experience events that re-instill in me a wild love for dance. And this year's Urban Paradise was that event.

Urban Paradise is a dance showcase that is organized every year by Bay Area hip hop group, The Company. Dance groups from all over California flocked to Chabot College theater a few weeks ago and shared their talents with the dance community. The lineup included Southern Californian favorites like Cookies and SBGM as well as Bay Area groups like Press Play.

Among these groups was a project put together by Pat Cruz titled, "Homebase". It featured choreography by: JekaJane Kalotkin, Amanda Grind, Pat Cruz, Ade Willis, Aggie Loyola, and my roomie Sorah Yang. I got to be in Pat and Sorah's pieces, and it was awesome dancing alongside my talented friends:

Entity was also invited to perform; we debuted our newest piece titled, "Bloom", which was choreographed by Raymond Naval and Will Johnston:

Dance community events like this are always humbling. They remind me of the amount of passion and creativity that exists outside of the industry. These were a few of my personal favorites of the evening in no particular order:

I feel so grateful to be surrounded by people whose greatness reminds me of why I love doing what I do. A huge thank you to The Company, Entity, Pat, Sorah, and everyone involved with Urban Paradise! You were all, and continue to be, a unique collective of artists from whom I draw an immense amount of inspiration from. 

Entity Dance Company

We are back in full swing for another two weeks on the Yeezus Tour, and while this leg of tour is very short I will nonetheless be thinking about all the wonderful comforts of home.

One part of my LA life that will definitely be on my mind is my Entity Dance Company family:

I was invited to join Entity Dance Company by co-directors Marissa Osato and Will Johnston when it was first established in 2009. Since then the company has come to be one of my mainstays of life in LA; through all the chaos of college and instability of the commercial industry, Entity remains as constant and supportive as my own family.

The company "establishes a unique approach to fusing contemporary, hip-hop, modern, and ballet, and celebrates creative exploration to push visual artistry to its limits" (via Facebook). The company holds auditions for new members once a year, and this year I was given the opportunity to teach at the audition workshops with my dear friend Tess Hewlett:

Our audition flier
Happenstance matching during a creative session
Intentional outfit coordination on audition day
Tess and I have uniquely dissimilar instincts, but that made it even more fun to collaborate with her:

Entity has performed in a multitude of community dance events such as Vibe, Urban Paradise, and Ultimate Brawl. But this year the company is focusing on doing something it has never done before: putting on its own full length show. Marissa and Will will be orchestrating and choreographing the entire event on the 18 company members. The show is set to debut in November 2014, and we could not be more excited!

Over the next few months, Entity will be holding fundraiser workshops at various studios and locations around California. Stay up to date with these events via our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and website!

A Childhood Dream

Between the ages of 15-18, I went religiously every Sunday evening to the open hip-hop classes held by Funkanometry SF. I even had my mom drive me the 45 minutes to and from Westlake School for the Performing Arts (and later on to City Dance) when I couldn't drive on my own. It was my one and only opportunity to take hip-hop, and I looked forward to it every week.

There was one class and instructor that particularly inspired me: Patrick Cruz. It was my first introduction to a hip-hop style that was controlled and smooth yet funky and groovy. I was a 16 year-old girl trained mainly in jazz and contemporary, and I think I butchered his choreography (in the worst way possible). But I loved it, and his class lead me to discover The Company, Gen2, and Shaun Evaristo.

From then on I was ravenous to improve my hip-hop skills. I used videos like the one below as a measure of hip-hop perfection, and probably watched this about 1,000 times:

Okay, maybe I watched it 2,000 times. And each time I watched, I dreamed of one day being able to dance hip-hop with as much style and finesse as they did.

Now fast forward seven years after hundreds of hip-hop classes and a collegiate team later. On March 16, 2013, I along with 14 other talented dancers including Amanda Grind, Anthony Lee, and Mr. Patrick Cruz himself performed at Urban Paradise 2013:

The number was choreographed and staged by Pat in just a few days, and I'm astounded by how well everything came together in that short amount of time. I thoroughly enjoyed the creative process and learned a lot along the way. Pat is not only a talented dancer and artist, but also an effective leader and smart choreographer. While it was an honor to perform at Urban Paradise with Entity, it was an even greater personal triumph to be at the event dancing with Pat.

So here's a special shout out to the Bay Area folk: Thank you for inspiring me, and thank you for allowing me to fulfill a (not so) silly childhood dream.