Prior to coming to UC Berkeley, I danced throughout my childhood. Beginning when I was eight years old, I used to dance in an after-school program with the YMCA. I was a hip-hop dancer until I was 13 when I entered middle school. I took a break from dancing for two years, then came back to it when I was in high school. My school offered Mexican folklórico dance classes as electives and I took it for fun. I ended up sticking with it all through high school as it was a very significant part of my cultural identity. Now in college, I dance for group on campus and through our school’s department. Dance is always something I held near to me, as it was my outlet for healing and self-exploration. Some of my best memories as a kid and growing up was made with the members of my dance teams. Now in college, I get to fully embrace this passion academically and as an extracurricular! So if you’re a dancer looking for ways to get involved in the dance community at Cal, keep on reading!
Let me tell you the story of how I dance my (blue & gold) heart out <3
Getting Involved With Dance Groups: At UC Berkeley, there are many (and I mean MANY) dance groups on campus for students to get involved in. There’s a wide range of styles offered, from bollywood, lion dance, k-pop, modern/contemporary, hip-hop/open, you name it! Many of these groups also offer workshops to the general public and have competition teams. There are also groups who have beginning and advance levels so people can learn at different levels and paces. When I first started at Cal, I decided to join Ballet Folklórico to continue what I learned in high school. Not only did I learn a lot, I also found a really great group of friends who shared my cultural identity. The dance groups on campus not only provide a fun environment to train in, but also a network of people are also passionate about their art!
Taking TDPS’s Dance Courses: UC Berkeley also offers a major and minor in Dance and Performance Studies. Our Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) offers a wide variety of dance classes for students of all levels. The main styles taught by the faculty are modern/contemporary and african style dance for hip-hop. The first dance class I took at Cal was a beginning modern course. I will never forget how much fun that course was. It helped strengthen my modern/contemporary technique and allowed me to regain dance skills I had lost from when I was a kid. I also took intermediate modern technique which helped fortify my technique even more.
Dancing at an Outside Studio: In Berkeley, there’s also multiple different dance studios in the community that offer adult classes. I started dancing with an outside studio in the summer after my first year at Cal. They offer classes at a wide variety of levels to fit each dancer’s individual needs. Some of the dance faculty members at Cal often offer masterclasses with these studios, which is a really cool experience and a great way to get involved with the local community! I have a few friends who also dance with studios in San Francisco and San Jose, so there’s endless options to dance within the Bay Area!
Performing On Campus: I still remember my first Ballet Folklórico performance at Cal. It was during Homecoming 2022 and I was so so SO nervous. But, my artistic directors and dance teammates helped me calm my nerves and we got to shine on that stage. The crowd was cheering for us endlessly, and I still remember them chanting our group’s name afterwards. The Homecoming Rally is just one of the many examples of performance opportunities for students involved in the dance community. TDPS and dance groups have multiple different performances a year for their students, allowing the campus community to witness the variety of talent we have! Every year, TDPS has their annual Berkeley Dance Project, highlighting dancers from a wide variety of styles. Our theme this year is POP UP!: Dance Exchange, so the community will get to see a wide variety of different styles! It’s premiering this Feburary, and I’m so excited to have been casted in the hip-hop/open piece <33
UC Berkeley offers a wide range of opportunities for students to get in touch with their creative side through dance. It provides a unique avenue for students to express themselves, while allowing them to discover themselves. Dance has always been an important part of my life, and I am so happy to be at a place where I can dive into it even further. I’ll keep dancing my (blue & gold) heart out every day!