Embracing her culture through dance

Once she takes the stage, nothing can stop junior Vivian Huang from fulfilling her love of performing Chinese folk dances.

After her friends told her about Chinese folk dancing, Huang and her mother decided to visit the Asian Arts Talent Foundation dance studio company and learn more about it. Since then, Huang has been performing with her dance team at the company in San Gabriel. She joined the studio at the age of 10 and has been with it for over six years.

“I went over there and I fell in love with [Chinese folk dancing]. When I look at it and see how it’s a story without having to talk or use words, it’s so amazing to me. I remember that day like it was yesterday–it changed everything,” Huang said. “From there, it started a new path in my life. At the time, I didn’t want to go for it, but I started anyways and I’m so glad I did.”

Huang is encouraged by her teachers to practice every weekend for eight hours to learn new dances and work on techniques. She hopes to improve on perfecting her balance and the firebird, a jump where dancers perform a split in the air while bending their leg and back. From these rehearsals and practices, Huang has learned lessons about perseverance and patience by working with her teammates.

“I’m so thankful [my teachers] are there. If we make a mistake at practice, of course they’re going to pick at us, but if we make a mistake on stage they’ll say ‘It’s okay, you did your best. Don’t worry about it’, ” Huang said. “They’ve taught us about knowing yourself and knowing your own body, since we go through these excruciating practices. They really teach you to bring the most out of yourself. If you can’t, then it’s okay because no one’s perfect.”

Huang has performed as various characters, such as a temple student and a butterfly in the shows “The Legend of the White Snake” and “Butterfly Lovers,” respectively. In her performance of “Mulan,” she played one of Mulan’s childhood friends by wearing a long dress and dancing with embroidered cloth.

“I love performing on stage [because] something about making people smile within a mere three minutes and the fact that I can make everyone’s day is just something I love to do. It feels good that all of my hard work goes into one show,” Huang said. “I don’t have to say anything when performing. [The audience doesn’t] know me, I don’t know them, we’re complete strangers but how I can change someone’s day means the whole world to me.”

Performing helps Huang cope with her social anxiety and gain confidence by allowing her to express her feelings through dance. When on stage, she forgets about her worries and focuses on performing the Chinese folk tale.

“I can’t stand the idea of being in front of a class, but I can stand in front of thousands at a time to perform. I feel like I can do anything in the world, and nothing is stopping me,” Huang said. “With the stress people have been putting on high school kids right now, everything seems to go away. When I’m on stage, I’m like a different person. I remember, ‘This is why I’m here, it’s to make other people happy. I couldn’t change it for the world.”

By Sarah Lew, Staff writer
Photo courtesy of Vivian Huang

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