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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Hip Hop Studios in Taipei

Seeing how helpful my post about dance studios in Beijing is to readers, I’m posting up a list of dance studios I found in Taipei, Taiwan back in 2011.  The warm humid air and scorching sun reminds me of the last three summers I spent in Asia, but I haven’t shared all the treasures I found on the eastern hemisphere yet. Like my other post about Beijing’s studios, this one is inspired by one of my readers who commented on a Taiwan post.

In Ximen, you’ll find IP Dance Skool, known for its locking instructors. When I interviewed dance instructors and students who practiced in the parks, many of them either took classes from or recommended IP Dance Skool.

From what I experienced, most of the notorious studios are located in the East District (Zhongxiao Xinsheng to Sun Yat-Sen stations). HRC Dance Academy, Lumi Dance School, and Merry Monarc are all located near Sun Yat-Sen, First Place near Zhongxiao Dunhua, and No Limit (no link) near Zhongxiao Xinsheng. However, you’ll find students casually practicing at MRT stops like Ximen and Taipei Main Station, and I’m sure they’d be happy to tell you other places closer to the Shida area. Below is a vogue class with Dashaun Wesley at No Limit:

True Fitness gym is near the Guting station and it offers a hip hop class every week as well as ballroom and other group fitness classes. I took the hip hop class my first week in Taipei (click here). A monthly membership is required, but when I told them this was for my research project, they offered me a free trial for this first class and even let two of my friends join me. Wesley, the instructor, has years of experience under his belt, from performing in celebrity concerts to teaching students of all ages. I recommend giving this a try for a beginner lesson.

For the studios I went to, the prices for each class ranged from 320-450NTD, which I think is the average pricing for most studios in the area. The more expensive studios have better-known instructors and space can sometimes be limited, so I think they are worth the extra bucks.

For most studios, you can walk in and sign up for one class at a time a few minutes before they begin. Most places also have packages where you can prepay for a number of classes and take the ones you’d like to try out for your convenience.

July and August are good times to go to Taipei because that’s when the Metro Street Dance Competition takes place. With youth and adult divisions, each group of teams will compete for the finals outside MRT Jiannan Rd. Station. This is a chance to see all the talent in Taipei mixed together and mingle with the dance community.

Featured: 3 Reasons to Travel While You’re Young

Read Jeff Goins’ post: 3 Reasons to Travel While You’re Young

I saw this on my friend’s Facebook page and I absolutely had to repost it. Not only does the author, Jeff Goins, touch on the positives of traveling, but many of his points apply to my life right now. With just 20 days until I become a “big girl,” I have been anything but functional figuring out my next steps. Goins’ words reassured me that I am in fact going in the right direction when my eyes landed on this paragraph:

So if you still have a reasonable amount of control over your circumstances, you should do what really matters. Because life won’t always be just about you.

So true. As the academic year is wrapping up, the most common phrase I hear from my senior friends is “I need to figure out what I want/am going to do.” Another common phrase I hear is “I want to go back to (insert foreign city or country) again.” So DO IT before it’s too late! This is the time when we are young, attractive and healthy individuals, with no back pains to rest out or diapers to change (but don’t get me wrong I adore babies). This is the time when we can just indulge all on our own and figure ourselves out.

While my mom still worries when I go to places by myself, I find it to be the most liberating and valuable lesson. In the times I stayed in Taiwan and Korea on my own, the possibilities were endless. I learned something new every single day in the way I wanted to see it, from the way people communicated to the insignificant differences between mainland China and Taipei. Even traveling with my friends to Southeast Asia opened my eyes up to new adventures. I have never heard from any of my friends who studied abroad to say they didn’t enjoy their time overseas. Squeeze in that last bit of traveling now and maybe you will figure out what you want/are going to do in that time.

I, however, am at a different stage right now. While I would happily book the next flight back to Singapore or take my first walk down Champs-Élysées in a heartbeat, I know this is the best time to take my first serious step towards starting my career. The reason I like Goins’ post so much is because it still applies to my current transition phase. Though I’ve been faced with difficult decisions on choosing what I want to do versus what I should do, Goins reminded me to pursue my real long-term goals which will ultimately make me happy. While I recognize the risk of not liking my decision and possibly taking a complete 180 in a few years, it doesn’t matter because right now I know it’s what I want to do and right now is the best time to make that choice. As Goins says,

Do this while you’re still young. Do not squander the time. You will never have it again.

Thank you Goins. You just made my day. And now I’m craving fresh crab from Malaysia.

Missed Goins’ post up top? Click here to read: 3 Reasons to Travel While You’re Young

UK 101: Rip the Floor 2013 and For the Love of Hip Hop

Rip the Floor 2013 was our last competition for UrbanKnowlogy 101 this academic year. While we didn’t place, our medley was fun and my car ended up having a 3 hour extravaganza at IHOP afterwards. There’s nothing like team bonding and food after a long day of prepping, dancing and driving. Missed the competition? Click below to see us sharp and sleek in “Men in Black”!

Rip the Floor 2013 | Songs: “Men in Black” by Will Smith, “Candy Rain” by Soul For Real, “I’m Goin In” by Lil Wayne, “Why I Love You” by Kanye West and Jay-Z, “No Love Allowed” by Rihanna, “Drop it Like It’s Hot” by Snoop Dogg | Choreographers: Cina McKenna, Chris Munar, Nathan Garduno, Demetirus White | Performed by: UrbanKnowlogy 101

Save the Date!
Looking for more UrbanKnowlogy 101? Coming up next is our annual For the Love of Hip Hop celebrating the hip hop culture in our local DMV area. We will bring to you some of the key players in the 5 elements of hip hop (breaking, graffiti, spoken word, rap and knowledge) and get a chance to cyper with us afterwards. Come join us for music, performances and just a fun time!

For the Love has been moved to the fall semester. Join us on September 13th to see the new team and lineup! Stay updated through our Facebook event at https://www.facebook.com/events/498400083554351/?fref=ts!

UK 101: Prelude Urban Dance Competition DMV 2013

Videos galore in this post!

First of all, congratulations to Major Definition, CREWcial, and KickRocks Crew for placing as our top 3 teams in the DMV area this year! For those of you who are unfamiliar with what Prelude is, this competition series aims to create a community for all dance teams in major regional areas in the U.S.

This year, the owner of Prelude is implementing a new competition, the Prelude Championship where the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd honors of each regional competition will come together to compete in Philadelphia on May 11. I think this is a great way to bring together the different dance communities and get a taste of each region’s flavor of dance. There are many showcases and events that segment themselves into regional areas, but we don’t spend much time celebrating the dance communities as a whole. We are all dancers and we do it because we love it, so bringing all the coasts to one place will help show how different teams express their passion for this art and sport.

This year’s Prelude was my first and last performance with UK 101 at the event. Watch below, kudos to Tony Marquez for filming!

Songs: “I’m Goin In” by Drake ft. Lil Wayne and Young Jeezy, “Rock the Boat” by Aaliyah, “Candy Rain” by Soul For Real, “Drop it Like It’s Hot” by Snoop Dogg, “Booty Me Down” by Kstylis, “They Don’t Want Music” by Black Eyed Peas | Choreographers: Davawna Marie, Chris Munar, Demetirus White, Cina McKenna | Performed by: Urbanknowlogy 101 | Prelude DMV Urban Dance Competition

This performance was eye-opening for me as a member of the team for four years. With little time to recover from the Step Show just last week, it was hard for me to continue moving our team forward without reflecting on our recent shows. Nonetheless, we had to keep pulling through and use our time wisely to put another medley together, this time not only representing our team for the student body at GMU but to represent our school with our team members. I had been extremely nervous about our routine, probably because I have been used to our song choices and been surrounded with the same people for a long time.

It was only after we finished our performance that made me realize how much we have grown compared to recent semesters. We decided to be a showcase team instead of competition team this year, but it was truly rewarding when other teams recognized us as a team who should have been on the competing list. As a senior, it’s been difficult to see everything clearly when I’m focused on so many other things, but to hear these comments from the dance community made me feel incredibly thankful to be on a team with such patience and energy to make it work.

Want to see the best of this year’s Prelude? Check them out below!

3rd Place: KickRocks Crew

2nd Place: CREWcial

1st Place: Major Definition

Special! This is Team WeGonMakeIt, with select alumni members of UK 101:

And representing some of the best dancers of the DMV area, here’s Culture Shock D.C.:

UK 101: Step Show 2013

As always, one of UrbanKnowlogy 101’s favorite events to perform for – the annual NPHC Step Show! Did you miss us performing on Friday? Or want to see it again? Click below : )

Songs: “I’m Goin In” by Drake ft. Lil Wayne and Young Jeezy, “Clique” by Kanye West, “Rock the Boat” by Aaliyah, “No Love Allowed” by Rihanna, “Drop it Like It’s Hot” by Snoop Dogg, “Booty Me Down” by Kstylis | Choreographers: Davawna Marie, Tommy Le, Demetirus White, Cina McKenna | Performed by: Urbanknowlogy 101 | NPHC Step Show 2013

Fun show, fun songs, fun people. All in all it was pretty good. Not to mention one of the most stress-free preps! Yayyy team!

Photo Credit: Chad King
Photo Credit: Chad King
Photo Credit: Jenny Pan
Photo Credit: Jenny Pan

UK 101: Coalescence 2013

Check out UrbanKnowlogy 101’s first performance of the year! With one week to properly prepare, we came out with a 7-minute routine for the 4th Annual Coalescence Showcase hosted by James Madison University. Songs and choreographers listed below.

Songs: “Freakum Dress” by Beyonce, “Bad Girl” by Usher, “Ice” by Kelly Rowland, “Novacane” by Frank Ocean, “Make Me Proud” by Drake ft. Nicki Minaj, “Don’t Mess with My Man” by Nivea | Choreographers: Demetirus White, Tri Le, Cina McKenna, Jia Zheng | Performed by: UrbanKnowlogy 101 | Coalescence 2013

This was our first year participating in the JMU Coalescence Showcase. In their words, “The purpose of Coalescence is to unite dancers and their crews, allowing all of us to share our talents and celebrate our love for dance and music.” I appreciate how they make efforts to bring together all different teams in DC, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina to remind us how we should encourage the uniqueness of our own styles instead of thinking about the pressure from other groups and impressing judges.

Also, here’s a video from one of the guest choreographers for the Kodachrome workshops.

2012 Highlights

While my posts have been less frequent this year, I wanted to share my blogging summary of 2012 to those who are still reading. Thank you to those who have followed me since the beginning when I first joined WordPress in 2011, and thanks to the new subscribers who have shown interest along the way. Below, you will see that some of my popular posts are from earlier times when I first talked about my dancing in Taiwan and other travel experiences this year.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,800 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 6 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

My blogging New Year’s resolution is to revamp this blog for my new research project for spring 2013, and sit down to write those much-needed posts of my last days in Taiwan. There are 21 days left of winter break, so I hope to whip these out before my last semester of undergrad begins!

In terms of my personal accomplishments, 2012 has been a dynamic and successful year. The same time last year I was frantic about preparing for my semester abroad in Beijing. In this year, I have completed my semester abroad, traveled to multiple cities in China and Southeast Asia, interned in Beijing, came back and completed my first semester of senior year. In between I have met incredible people throughout the world, built stronger relationships with the ones back home, and had a lot of fun all around. There is much more that differentiated this year from others, but I’m just happy to have had the chance to share these moments with family and friends. I am more than ready to take on what 2013 has in store for me.

Happy New Year everyone! Have fun and be safe :)

UK 101: Red Alert Work the Runway Fashion Show 2012

Once again, UrbanKnowlogy 101 wrapped up the year with a strong performance at the annual GMU Fashion Show for HIV Awareness Week. This year, the theme was “Red Alert: Work the Runway” with more vendors and supporters than ever before, including Macy’s and Belle Mode Intimates. UK 101 had the honor of performing twice, opening for the night and again for part II of the show.

Watch below for both parts! Part I (0:14) shows off our sexy ladies and gentlemen while Part II (4:45) draws out a story through our dancing about the consequences of being unsafe.

UrbanKnowlogy 101: Red Alert Fashion Show
Photo Credit: Jenny Pan
Photo Credit: Jenny Pan
Photo Credit: Jenny Pan

We had some of the roughest practices that reminded me of when I first joined the team four years ago, but the late nights seemed to have bonded us even more as a team. Some unexpected events challenged our abilities to work together for the betterment of the show, and witnessing them taught me the importance of making difficult decisions on the spot while considering what is right for the majority. We were very lucky to pull through and show our final product – we couldn’t have done it without every single member of the team. Cheers to another great show and an even better year ahead!