2016 so far has been a challenging and exciting journey through the world of dance! It started off in January with new routines, new costumes, and new difficulty levels, and since then, things have been active and going strong!
My partner and I have come a long way since we both started dancing and competing together, but we still have so much more to improve on! Dancesport sometimes become tough on the mind, body and emotions, and the pressure to improve in ability and ranking feels high every time. The atmosphere, politics and culture surrounding the competitive ballroom environment sometimes become challenging. Doing my best to enjoy each lesson, practice, and event while reflecting on things that can be improved each time. It’s a work in progress.
This year, we had another opportunity to work and perform at FanimeCon’s Black & White Ball for Memorial Day weekend. It was such an incredibly fun and refreshing social event that helped ground and reset my thoughts and feelings after the spring season full of competitive events, and reminded me of all the other aspects of dance that I enjoyed. It’s a great feeling bringing joy and entertainment to friends, attendees and watchers, hoping they will also catch the dance bug and be inspired to learn ballroom!
We are continuing to practice throughout the summer, and hope to be back on the competition floor in July for International Grand Ball! There are more goals for travel next year that we hope to reach as well. Other than that, I’ll share videos and write up a longer post focused on the recent FanimeCon weekend soon! And outside of dance, there have been a lot of exciting work projects and photo gigs happening lately that I’m pretty excited to share. Stay tuned!
The holidays are my FAVORITE time of year!! I’ve been rushing to get Christmas gifts done lately, packing for Disneyworld, adjusting and transitioning between some major changes.
I had the opportunity the last couple of weeks to reconnect with past teachers, old colleagues, friends, and family. We conversed about career topics, adult life, about grounding myself in the present, learning from the past, and moving forward to a brighter future. 2015 was a tough year due to some personal situations, but things completely turned around and become awesome, thanks to so much support from loved ones and personal hard work. I’m so excited to start the next year in a new and better place, and am extremely grateful for all the learning opportunities and important people along the way!
It’s about a month overdue, but I wanted to report and share an awesome event that happened a month ago: November 14th was SJSU Dancesport Team‘s 2nd Annual Spartan Invitational! Competitors from Berkeley, Stanford, and many other local schools and communities participated. The competition was very successful, very well run, and very fun!! Very proud of my collegiate dancesport team!
Our regal ballroom squad
Our awesome coach who kicks our butt!!! Hair and makeup by her!
Our sparkly and fiesty latin squad
My partner and I are excited to continue working hard with our coach, overhaul a few things, move up a level, and start off the new year with a bang. I’m hesitant to give away too many details, but I’ll say… our new routines are challenging, but pretty exciting!
Anyway, I’m packing and getting ready to leave for our trip to Disneyworld this week (so excited, first time). I was inspired by a colleague to create a travel video, so expect a ton of media and updates later!
The weather’s been cold, the holiday feelings have been creeping in, and personal reflections of the past year have been bubbling up. I’ve been sitting in Starbucks a lot lately with a cup of Peppermint Mocha (guilty pleasure, I know), having bi-weekly adultlife chats with my musician cousin, thinking about career, dance, and life. Autumn is my favorite season!!
The last couple of months have been a good time to connect with friends and colleagues in their 20s, all working, pursuing dreams, keeping busy, etc. I’ve been reflecting a lot on past events and places that got me here (really, when do those thoughts ever stop?), and feeling nostalgic. In September, I visited my old office and previous workplace from a year ago to say hi and greet familiar faces. Everyone was really friendly and kind- and it really resonated with me how important a positive work culture and environment was to me. I went to my old high school’s homecoming football game (we won by like 40 points!), and emailed my high school multimedia teacher from 8 years ago, updating her on my status now and to see how she was doing. She emailed back happily.
“As an art major, it is a challenge to get through college and find your creative path.”
It’s been a big time for me to pursue change recently, getting involved in local projects (there’s a huge web project and community I’d love to talk about, once it’s ready to be public and launched!), seeking new environments, dancing very hard to distract myself from the sometimes overwhelming bouts of overthinking… It’s been one of the most difficult years, honestly, due to personal circumstances, so I’ve been working hard and thinking hard about ways I can bring a positive change to my life before end the year. Navigating the boundary between having an art education and a self-taught technical background in the Silicon Valley, especially as a millennial, comes with unique difficulties, but I’m optimistic things will turn out the way they are meant to, with the new skills and people I learn along the way.
Speaking of web projects! A while ago, I had posted that I was working on my website at http://digital-dust.net. It’s actually still in progress and not yet quite finished, but you can at least take a look at the portfolio section to see some work I’ve done. Wanted try avoiding using a CMS for this site, and instead hand-code it from the ground up for personal practice, so there are still many tweaks and content to be added. Take a look, if you like!
In other news, my partner and I are still active in the Bay Area dancesport scene, improving as much as we can. We’ll be competing again this Saturday at the 2nd Annual San Jose State Spartan Invitational (it’s only $5 to watch, all day. free for SJSU students)! Here’s an archived live stream of Autumn Dance Classic from October- we show up at around 16:50 and again at 40:00. I’m the one in the yellow dress!
It’s amazing to look back at past videos, experiences, even if they’re just a month ago, and say out loud to yourself and others… “Wow, I’ve gotten better since then. No really, our dancing’s ugly in this one. Wait ’til you see us NEXT time, seriously!
Random nerd-related asides: I’m addicted to The Walking Dead. Dancing with the Stars is another guilty pleasure of mine. Just finished the story mode of Guild Wars 2, Heart of Thrones. Debating on whether I should pick up Legacy of the Void. Doctor Strange is releasing in theaters on my birthday next year. And it apparently took me this long to discover Welcome to Nightvale… what a strange and compelling podcast.
Living as a millennial with intense bouts of half self-doubt and half-optimism while journeying for the right career path? Fellow ballroom dancer that can provide advice on hip flexibility issues, specifically on the left side? Any thoughts on movies, television, and media in general? Excited for the Nintendo Direct later today? DO YOU THINK GLENN IS STILL ALIVE?!
A co-worker has been inspiring (bugging) me to blog more frequently for personal development. I know I post often formal things about projects, art, photos and tech stuff, but I’d like to share something that’s also more personal and a very big part of my life.
And because it’s National Dance Day, here it is: dancesport!
I share tidbits from time to time, but I haven’t emphasized yet how important, difficult, and rewarding it is for my personal, physical, and mental development. Outside of the very sedentary and tech-related work I do in my professional life, dancesport is a significant escape and mental balance for me.
I’ve been dancing for almost 6 years, taking classes in college, participating on the college ballroom team with friends, and entering in competitions casually here and there. As an initially shy, quiet, and socially awkward girl (homeschooling history tends to do that!), dance did wonders for my social development, self-confidence, and overall wellness.
But it wasn’t until recently that I was able to have the money, dedication, time and commitment to taking private lessons and progressing on a more competitive level. I realized more and more each practice how little I knew, how skilled I have yet to be, and how much harder I had to work. It suddenly became very serious, but so very rewarding!
Breaking into these was a several month lesson in itself
Dancesport, in short, is competitive ballroom/latin partner dancing (as opposed to social dancing). Many categories, levels, rules, exist in the system. Many don’t often think of it as a sport, or even very athletic… but it’s extremely physically and mentally demanding, and probably one of the most difficult things I’ve ever trained my body to do.
What makes it different and interesting is, unlike hip-hop (fun stuff!), ballet (so difficult, so beautiful…), or many other dances, ballroom dance requires another person to be synchronized with you on all sorts of levels.
Getting to wear ridiculous dresses is a huge benefit of dancesport
I’ve had very good partners in the past, and currently many friends on my team that I dance with for fun, and enter into events or perform in shows with casually. But I partnered with my current competitive and #1 priority back in November, and my dance life has expanded with a lot more potential ever since.
We started taking private lessons with our coach just a few months ago, and she’s been really kicking our butt and pushing our limits as we train and grow.
Looking relatively clean and calm before we got our heads stuffed, our butts kicked and our clothes sweaty
UC Berkeley, 2015
I won’t post many details on our day-to-day routines and experiences just yet, but will consider it for future posts. We are still very actively learning and training, and will be joining many social and competitive events in the near future. I’ll keep updating with some fun videos and photos along the way!
Wanted to share these brief experiences in honor of National Dance Day, and encourage participation in trying out a dance class or two 🙂 who knows if you’ll like it!
Every year I get the amazing opportunity to work with talented staff and dancers for the FanimeCon Black and White Ball (held in late May)! It’s always one of the greatest weekends of the year for me- a weekend full of jam-packed dancing, teaching, wonderful people, and unforgettable moments. Here are some videos performances we did:
Dance lessons are going great, and my new partner and I have been working very hard with our coach for competitions. I look forward to learning more and improving throughout the summer and the rest of the year!!
Until next Fanime!