Cultural Dancing

Pauline Villegas, A&E Editor

The art form of dance expresses a variety of feelings and emotions. For some Brahmas,  dance connects them with their culture, creating something beautiful while doing so. These Brahmas include juniors Andrea Moran and Aprhoditi Magaziotis, senior Shefali Appali and sophomore Katherine Tran that represent a range of countries from Mexico to China.

    Junior Andrea Moran specializes in the Latin American dance Folklorico. Originating in Mexico, Folklorico has been apart of the Spanish culture for generations. Centered around folk culture and exaggerated choreography, it is one of the most important dances in Latin American countries. Folklorico is most known for the long skirts filled with bright colors that the dancers wear. In Mexico, the colors represent a dancer’s region.

    Moran, who has been dancing for 14 years, specializes in Folklorico, Flamenco and Ballet, all different types of dances she is able to incorporate when learning new choreography and skills.

    Yet there is a challenge when it comes to prioritizing school and dance. Moran believes that the most important aspect in keeping the balance is time management. She is constantly rehearsing for new performances and competitions.

    The thing that inspires her most to continue dancing are the reactions she’s given when her dance company performs.

    “Usually the older communities get super excited to see us dance. They get really nostalgic and they begin to remember memories of when they were younger,” Moran said.

    She says one of her most memorable experiences is when a little girl came up to her saying Moran was “dressed like a princess.” Dancing folklorico has taught her many things.

    “I’ve learned a lot [about] responsibility. You have to put yourself first in certain situations. I also learned to have more patience, especially when working with other people,” she said.

    On the opposite side of the world lies Greece, where junior Aphroditi Magaziotis’ family comes from. Magaziotis specializes in Greek folk-dancing. Unlike dances of other cultures, Greek dancing has remained the same century after century. In ancient times it was a way to express everyday life. Now, in the United States, it is a way to carry on old traditions.

    Most of the dances contain leaping motions incorporated with a synchronized shuffle that dancers do hand in hand standing in a circle. The music focuses on the instrumental, one of the main instruments being the clarinet. The dancers themselves have to sing along to any lyrics that may be apart of a song.  

    Along with being apart of multiple dance studios, including DBHS Dance Company, Magaziotis has been dancing for 12 years.

    Magaziotis also dances at Saint Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Church in Pasadena, where she practices every Sunday to prepare for performances and competitions held at different Greek churches in the area. Her favorite part about dancing is being with her friends and family.

    Dancing has also allowed Magaziotis to learn more about her Greek heritage and her family’s background.

    “Without Greek dancing, I don’t think I would be fluent in the language or be able to truly understand the culture,” she said.

    Senior Shefali Appali is no stranger to cultural dancing as well. She specializes in one of India’s classical dance forms, Bharatanatyam. Originating in the Hindu Temples of Tamil Nadu, Bharatanatyam is a dance performed by only one woman. This dance is very important in Hinduism, India’s most popular religion.

“Dancing has always been something that makes me feel whole,” Appali said.

She has been dancing for almost 13 years and she does not plan on stopping anytime soon. Appali is so dedicated to her art that she regularly spends five to seven hours a week practicing.

Performing comes naturally to Appali and has taken her  all over North America, including New York, Hawaii and Canada. Performing in front of large audiences has helped her gain confidence in her dancing.

When it comes to regulating her time, Appali dedicates just as much of her life to dancing as she does to anything else.  

“Dance for me isn’t something I really consider cutting out when it comes to balancing. I love it so I make time for it,” she said, “For me, it’s a priority just the same as school.”

Appali has taken away more than just knowledge on her culture. She has learned about friendships, hard work and dedication.

Like Appali, sophomore Katherine Tran knows what it’s like to dedicate time to her art. Tran is a Chinese folk dancer and classical dancer.

In China, dance is used to represent a certain way of life. In each region, the dances are slightly different but have the same overall goal. The actual dance contains many moves that appear to be like modernized ballet, but have slightly different footing or hand gestures.

Tran has been a dancer for 11 years now and in addition to Chinese dancing, she is also a member of  the DBHS Dance Company.

“For me, dance has never been about balancing dance and school, but about figuring out how to use the two skills to benefit my overall lifestyle,” Tran said.

For Tran, dancing takes away the stress of everyday life and school. It allows her to express herself through art. Her biggest goal is to incorporate what she’s learned through folk-dancing with what she has learned at school.

“I would like to somehow connect my Chinese dance with the stylized and more modern dancing I do for school,” she said

Tran believes that the best part about dancing is knowing that she can always do better. When it comes to Chinese dancing, she feels as though it has helped her connect with her culture.

“I feel that I understand my culture in a whole different way than others around me because it was taught to me through movements, stories and music instead of through text and words,” Tran said.