Weekend Getaway in NYC

Every time I visit New York, I feel at home. My friends tell me how they wouldn’t be able to handle the hustle and bustle, but that’s exactly what draws me in. Each corner you turn, a new story is waiting to be discovered, whether it be a local art studio, a new café, or skateboarders filming on a Sunday afternoon.

This time, I wandered much of the city alone, which was exactly what I needed to let me mind slip away from reality. Initially an unplanned weekend in the city, I made some of the best memories letting my instincts guide me to the Frick Collection and sipping my first ever cappuccino.

But having good people to share certain moments with is just as necessary, let’s say for a thrilling interactive Shakespeare play or a lazy morning dim sum.

Nova with scallion cream cheese, tomatoes, and cucumbers on a garlic bagel from Ess-a-Bagel. I wouldn't have noticed this little gem if I didn't purposely search for it. The long line was well worth the wait.

Nova with scallion cream cheese, tomatoes, and cucumbers on a garlic bagel from Ess-a-Bagel. I wouldn’t have noticed this little gem if I didn’t purposely search for it. The long line was well worth the wait.

After a long night of catching up with a friend, I needed a pick-me-up the next morning. I rarely drink coffee, but Blue Bottle Coffee was right around the corner, famous for their cappuccinos. I can’t compare with anything else since this was my first cappuccino ever, but it was delightfully warm with a subtle nutty aftertaste.

from Blue Bottle Coffee

Cappuccino from Blue Bottle Coffee

On my way to the Frick Collection, I passed by Central Park and came across Parisian sculptor Tatiana Trouvé’s “Desire Lines.”

An installation of different colored ropes that represent all 212 paths in Central Park

Tatiana Trouvé’s “Desire Lines,” an installation of different colored ropes that represent all 212 paths in Central Park

I highly recommend The Frick Collection. Originally Henry Clark Frick’s house, he intended to build it to display beautiful art he valued. The house is preserved with his furnishings just as if he were still here.

Before our anticipated play at the McKittrick Hotel, my friends and I went to The Meatball Shop in West Village.

Spicy pork meatballs with mushroom gravy over rigatoni from The Meatball Shop. The spices from the meatballs balanced out the gravy and the rigatoni added a hearty touch.

Spicy pork meatballs with mushroom gravy over rigatoni from The Meatball Shop. The spices from the meatballs balanced out the gravy and the rigatoni added a hearty touch.

The highlight of the weekend was, without a doubt, Sleep No More. An interactive theater production by Punchdrunk held in the mysterious McKittrick Hotel, this twist on Shakespeare’s classic tale Macbeth left me speechless with its detailed installments, intricate choreography, and eyebrow-raising storylines. It’s an experience that’s unexplainable in words. You have to be there to see how incredible it is.

What was left from my night at the McKittrick Hotel - my mask and a program explaining the concept behind Sleep No More. Oh, and an obligatory slice from Artichoke Basille's Pizza.

What was left from my night at the McKittrick Hotel – my mask and a program explaining the concept behind Sleep No More. Oh, and an obligatory slice from Artichoke Basille’s Pizza.

You can never pass up a good soup dumpling.

Soup dumplings from Shanghai Café in Chinatown. Their scallion pancakes were also a hit!

Soup dumplings from Shanghai Café in Chinatown. Their scallion pancakes were also a hit!

While wandering our last few hours in Chinatown, we found a skateboarding shoot in progress.

Caught in mid-air

Caught in mid-air

Our last stop before heading back to DC, some sweet treats for sweet people.

Handmade sweets from Doughnut Plant

Handmade sweets from Doughnut Plant

Red, Hot, and (Not So) Blues

Blues dancing at Dupont Circle

Sunday afternoon blues at Dupont Circle | Red Hot Blues ‘N BBQ 2014

Last weekend was the annual Red Hot Blues ‘N BBQ, and all-blues weekend held in DC with late night dances and a barbecue competition. I couldn’t make most of the dances over the weekend, but I was able to squeeze in time for opening night’s Thursday’s Back Room Blues and Dupont Circle on Sunday afternoon. It’s been a long time since I had so much fun dancing with new people, and going to these events reminded me of how much I need to add blues back into my dance life.

Blues is that one dance where I can let go. I find comfort in trusting my partner to guide us through the song together. Each dance is different – the connection, the personality, the playfulness or seriousness mixed with the music create unpredictable moments that I look forward to. I don’t have to think, I just live in the moment and dance the blues away.

CSDC: Youth Showcase 2014

Showcases always remind me of how much talent is out there, but these youth showcases are especially inspiring. I can’t imagine how proud the directors must be to see their kids bring their passion, skill and dedication to the stage. This is Future Shock DC’s closing performance from last Saturday, just a small portion of the power these kids showed us:

Future Shock DC | 5th Annual Youth Showcase | Closing Performance

Of course, I have to feature Culture Shock DC. I cheered so hard during this entire performance. You can hear how wild the crowd went in these videos. I’m incredibly proud of everyone, from hard work they put into the long rehearsals to the unexpected impressive debut that night. Check us out!

Culture Shock DC | 5th Annual Youth Showcase

Culture Shock DC Freestyle Team | 5th Annual Youth Showcase

CSDC: International Choreographer’s Showcase Videos

This is old…but it just hit me that I haven’t posted Culture Shock’s performances from our showcase in October. It’s more for my personal log, but go watch them if you haven’t already!

Culture Shock International Choreographer’s Showcase | October 2013 | Act I

In terms of costumes and concept, this was my favorite set. I had so much fun picking out my outfit and accessories, and everyone looked so darn good.

Culture Shock International Choreographer’s Showcase | October 2013 | Act II

Everyone remembers the showcase by this performance. I hadn’t performed on a stage in months before this show. When I stood on stage and felt the audience’s energy, I got an adrenaline rush and remembered why I love to dance.

Be Productive, Not Busy

Read Tyler Ward’s article here: http://www.tylerwardis.com/busy-isnt-respectable-anymore/

Next time anyone asks me about my life, I guarantee 100% I’ll respond with “busy.” It’s a solution word to describe everything at all times and dismiss any problems in order to address them later, if ever. Yet it lingers heavily afterwards – and guilt trips other people to say “same here” to feel accomplished or valued. What does “busy” really mean though?

Throughout my whole life, and especially through college, I made an effort to stay “busy,” to consume as many opportunities as possible that came my way. But I was constantly seeking more. For what reason? Maybe to feel that I was doing something worthwhile, maybe to feel important. It gave me an adrenaline rush, to think I was racing against time to achieve more than I could manage. “Doing nothing” was a toxic phrase for me because I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. Looking back, in those times I was “busy” I was doing too much and forgetting to make myself a priority. But it wasn’t taking on too many things that got to me, it was getting wrapped up in taking those things and leaving them unfinished – because I was too “busy” all the time.

Like Tyler Ward says, it’s all in my head – the more busy I think I am, the more busy I believe to be, which then causes me to think I have no time for anything. This article challenges us to avoid the word “busy” and replace it with more specific, engaging words to describe our lives. Once we do that, things will seem more real, more connected, and possibly more manageable – leading to solutions for that personal project I keep pushing back or that friend who I haven’t seen in months. Talking about situations in detail makes us think through the process of solving those problems, increasing productivity. I would prefer a productive life over a busy life, thanks.

We all have busy lives. But one person’s busy is different from his best friend’s busy or his neighbor’s busy. And what we often don’t do is un-busy ourselves, to take a step back and think why we’re so busy, what is worth our time, and what isn’t. Then weed out the ineffective and let the essentials grow.

My first sentence is false, then. I’m going to try deleting “busy” from my conversations this week, and instead face those apparently busy issues by thinking through them elaborately. At the end of the week, I will be back here celebrating being queen of productivity with a new blog post.

So life happened, and I didn’t come back a week after. But, I have felt more productive by avoiding the word “busy” and have already gotten back on track with one of my personal projects. This year is off to a good start.

A Year to Focus

2013 was a year for many changes. While change is exhilarating, it’s also tiring. This year was filled with great memories, but I’m ready to move forward.

For 2014, I’m taking all the time I need to focus on myself. There are so many things I’ve put on my ever-growing to-do list, including unfinished blog posts, that I’ve put off because of one excuse or another. One day, it was because I was figuring out my career path. Another day, I was too tired. And before I knew it, I was making excuses left and right – weeks flew by, then months.

My career, aside from dance, is the most important thing for me, and not knowing what direction I was heading earlier this year made me nervous. I currently have that figured out and feel much better about it, but I’ve ignored the smaller things that made me the best that I could be, to really take care of myself.

This year, I have personal goals to help me figure out who I am as a dancer, thinker, friend and family member. While the new year gives us a chance to start fresh with a clean slate, I’ve already started tackling some of my projects. Why wait until a date to tell me when to start something? So here’s to 2014, a year for planning, preparing and focusing.

Graduation with my sisters

Graduation with my sisters

Spring NYC trip

Spring NYC trip

CSDC: Spirit Week for Showcase!

Happy Monday! We’ve gotten through the first day of the week, but we’re already through the 2nd day of Spirit Week for Culture Shock’s 2013 International Choreographer’s Showcase! Join us in celebrating all things dance in preparation for this exciting weekend!

For Sunday, we’ve all tweeted what dance means to us personally. Check out our Twitter to see some featured posts.
Today, we all shared a photo of us dancing something other than hip hop.

Don’t miss out on the rest of the week!
Tuesday – If you could tour anywhere, where would you go? Tweet your favorite place!
Wednesday – Post a photo on Instagram of you with your dance company!
Thursday – Make the Culture Shock logo out of something and post it on Facebook!
Friday – Post on Instagram a photo of you dancing at your favorite place in DC!
Saturday – Tweet what Culture Shock has done for you.

Want a preview of what our freestyle team is preparing for you at our pre-show? Check out the promo vid below:

This is an especially exciting event for me because it’ll be my first time performing with Culture Shock DC on stage. It hasn’t exactly hit me yet – everyone says how crazy it’s going to be, meeting all these fellow Culture Shock members from all over the world. All I’m worried about right now is making sure I have enough energy for the weekend and making sure everyone else will have a good time. So here I am, pausing for a bit and taking a slow breath in – realizing that, yes, showcase has finally come. And it’s going to be out of this world.

CSDC: Going to Showcase? Get Your Tickets Now!

If you haven’t heard already, Culture Shock DC is hosting this year’s International Choreographer’s Showcase on Saturday, October 19th! It will be epic. With that said, don’t miss out on pre-sales, $25 for the first 300 seats. After October 15, prices will go up. So click the link below and reserve your spot now! Don’t forget to exchange your Eventbrite ticket at Pre-show, October 18th, or all day before showcase October 19th.

Click here to buy Showcase tickets!

Can’t make it to the show? You can still support CSDC by donating on our Go Fund Me site. Thanks to those who have already supported this event. We’ve almost reached our goal – with less than a month left, we can still make it! We need your help to make this showcase the best it can be. Every contribution is greatly appreciated.

Click here to contribute to Culture Shock DC!

We better see you there!!!!

Photo Credit: Glenn Orion Photography

Photo Credit: Glenn Orion Photography

CSDC: International Choreographer’s Showcase Promo Vid

Happy first week of fall! In addition to your plans for apple-picking and visits to haunted mansions next month, make sure to catch our 2013 International Choreographer’s Showcase. You’ll get to see performances from Culture Shock Dance Troupes from all over the world, right here in D.C.!

When: Saturday, October 19th 2013

Where: Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center

Tickets: $25 pre-sale, $35 at the door

Check out our promo video below! Hope to see you there :)

Song: “Take Back the Night” by Justin Timberlake | Choreographers: Chris Munar and Cina McKenna

HONG KONG EXILE, Saying Hi from Canada

It’s been a little over two months since I started my new job. While I’m enjoying it and learning much more than I expected in a short time, the last thing I want to do coming home is stare at the computer screen again to blog or even browse for leisure. But this week, I was reminded of why I should blog more.

Natalie Gan, a contemporary dancer based in Vancouver, reached out to me this week about my experience in Taiwan. Despite it being two years ago, she still contacted me to talk about the dance culture and events happening in Taipei. Knowing a fellow dancer from Canada with the same interests has encouraged me to commit more to my ongoing research that is currently put on hold. Her questions and desire to explore Taiwan brought me back to when I first stepped into True Fitness for a class with Wesley Lo and when I met my friend Lene who introduced me to the college dance life. One of my goals for this blog is to connect dancers from all over the world to learn from one another. Natalie’s reaching out showed me I am able to achieve this goal. Even though my trip was years ago, the people I met along the way will always keep me connected, and I can do the same for others.

Natalie is with an inspiring company called HONG KONG EXILE (HKX). A trio of multi-dimensional artists (the others named Milton and Remy), their mission is to create and share theatrical, experimental work inspired by cultural politics in an era of globalization. Natalie studied contemporary dance and international studies in hopes of connecting the two through her work. HKX performs together but they each have individual ongoing projects, including research, travel and executing productions. Whether you’re in Vancouver and want to see their latest work, or are interested in following their passion for the arts, you can learn more on their website at http://www.hongkongexile.com/.

Dancers from It's Battle Time Vol. 3 2011

Dancers from It’s Battle Time Vol. 3 2011

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