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From studio to spotlight: Chien’s journey through dance

Courtesy of Karen Chien

From the very beginning, sophomore Karen Chien has always loved to dance. In fact, her passion originated so long ago that she does not even remember how she started dancing at the tender age of three years old. 

“My dad always said that I just liked dancing even before he put me into dance classes,” Chien said. “That was the best decision he’s ever made.” 

When she first started dancing, Chien loved ballet. Now in the advanced class of Dance Spectrum, she also does jazz, tap, and hip-hop.

“My favorite style is probably hip hop because I enjoy beats and bass in music,” Chien said.

Hip-hop is the style of dance Chien considers herself to be the best at. She prides herself on her improvisation and dancing to the rhythm more than her technique.

 Junior Emitis Dastalmachi, who is also in Dance Spectrum, has noticed that Chien does not default to any specific moves and considers this improvisation a particularly interesting aspect of her dancing.

“I think it’s so cool to watch her just hit every beat in music, and she doesn’t confine herself to any sort of…safe moves,” Dastmalchi said. “But she pushes herself to another level and she has an incredible work ethic and I think that’s something that sets her aside from everyone else.”

Chien enjoys dance because it is simultaneously a sport and an art, allowing her to exercise and express her feelings at the same time. This self-expression can be seen in Chien’s movement while dancing, and it can also be seen in her choreography. 

“Something I enjoy about dance is being able to express how I feel with movement through my body, and I think it helps me express my form of art,” said Chien.

After listening to a song multiple times, Chien can envision a dance in her mind, she said. Her dance teachers, convention leaders, and other choreographers inspire her, she said. Currently, she choreographs solos for herself and dances for Dance Spectrum.

Generally, Chien practices her dancing for fourteen hours a week, not counting competitions. She has begun to travel with certain companies to conventions, around twice a month to compete. 

“I think it’s a great experience because at these dance conventions, we get to work with professionals in the industry,” Chien said. ”We get to experience a pre-professional workspace and get to learn in a teaching environment.” 

At these conventions and competitions, many dancers from different companies gather not just to learn from professionals, but to work with them on pieces that they will perform. At the HEAT dance convention, Chien won the Eternal Flame title, the highest rank in her age group. She was not expecting to earn it, and it remains her proudest achievement.

Courtesy of Karen Chien

However, her experience with dance has not always been easy. Chien has faced setbacks in the multiple injuries she has experienced. During these times, she saw herself as a burden for the dance team because she felt that the team had to work harder to compensate for her absence.

“It just makes you feel like you’re not helping and you’re just making them have to work more than you to learn other parts of the dance,” Chien said. “It’s just really difficult to have to watch your teammates go through all of it without you.” 

Nevertheless, Chien is set on continuing to dance. In the future, Chien hopes to go to college for dance before becoming a professional choreographer or dancer.

“Something bigger that I want to work on is like choreographing for big artists or even becoming a backup dancer going on tour,” Chien said. “Maybe choreographing music videos…and traveling around the world and exploring different types of dance and movement and meeting new people.”

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About the Contributor
Alexander Xu, Staff Writer
Alex is an junior and serves as a staff writer for the Oracle. Outside of school, he enjoys art, especially digital art.
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