Updated: Feb 28
Featuring Francez Urmatan, student majoring in Dance & Anthropology
How has your dance journey been?
At first I took a few dance classes here and there [when they were young] but was never consistent. I started taking dance seriously when I started attending a CC [community college]. I took a dance class there because I didn't want to go to the gym. I'm a person who'd rather have someone instructing me than doing my own reps, haha. Now that I think about it, I did do color guard for 4 years in high school, which did introduce me to certain aspects of dance.
When I first started taking it seriously, I decided to go more with jazz, because it was the most similar to color guard. I didn't touch hip-hop until hip-hop 1, where I fell in love with it. It [hip-hop] introduced me to great people and the Community. My first community class was at Stylez dance studio for a local community team workshop. Then I started taking class at Snowglobe [Perspective Dance Studio] and others in the area.
From there is where I found out about Edgepack, Entity, and Karen Chuang. I looked into them because they have similar movement to me. After finding someone who moves like me, it helped me know myself more as an artist. It really helped me narrow down what my focuses needed to be help me hone into that style.
Now that I've been dancing for 4 years, I still chose to go to college for dance. I wasn't originally a dance major though. The reason I decided to change into a dance major is because I want to give that same accessible resource to adults that have wanted to dance and are starting late.
How has dance influenced your college choices?
It made me pursue the arts even more. Growing up as an Asian-American, it's a non-conventional route. My parents have always been super supportive with my life choices. They saw how passionate I was and how much it made me happy. First it felt selfish until I thought of what I wanted to do with this major. Dancers don't have to go to college or get a degree. It's the path I chose because it made the most sense to them. My new double major is Anthropology and Dance. I chose these two in conjunction with, that to do research which was cultures with traditional dances.
What is your take on going to college to pursue dance?
If you're more of a modern based mover, college is definitely a good option. A lot of colleges in California and New York are all about modern based technique! Do your research on the university that you're going to because it might not be for you technique or style wise. If you're entry level and looking to go industry - look for schools that have/offer that foundation. Universities are a hit or miss, most are audition based or audition placement based. Audition placement based means that you're admitted into the school and you're placed at like the basic level.
What I would have done was did more research for that colleges had to offer me. I would've looked into how their dance program works, what they specialized in/what they're learning because that can make or break your college experience. If you have the intention to teach at a university or strengthening your modern dance training, university is a good choice because it offers more accessible and stable training facilities/grounds. The ultimate question for yourself when applying is, "Am I going to use this degree in some point in my life? What am I going to get out of training in university rather than going outside and getting training there?".
Anything that you learned that surprised you about going into dance as a career/major?
You meet all sorts of people with different backgrounds & different styles in dance and in skill sets. The people I work with surprised me the most because I'm surrounded by people who specialize in different things with different levels of experience, and I've learned something from each of them. From how they learn, move, and how they are in class, you can learn a lot from your peers.
Industry vs Ballet
Industry - more so involved in commercial hip-hop, concerts/back-up dancers, performers, anything to do with media
CommUNITY - more underground in culture. Not a lot of people are as familiar with it. It's different from industry in the way that it's more so for a culture of sharing our different flavors of dance and strengthening. It's also regional (NorCal, SoCal, etc.)
Academy - more for the performance aspect through repetition training. It's not as open as industry classes, you train for yourself and then you perform. Not a lot of social engagement, it's a very structured and routine-based lifestyle.
Best resources as a dancer?
Most Common: Your local university's dance teams. There's usually something dance based (open workshops, fundraising workshops, etc). It's cheap and easily accessible and it's already on campus, all you gotta do is show up!
Has a Cost: Try finding an open-level studio that accepts people of all ages. A bit harder to find because a lot of studios in local communities host classes for children. Most are community and industry based like Snowglobe Perspective Dance Studio, Millenium Dance, Studio North, etc.)
College Students*: If you're in college and your college has a dance program, taking a class is a good start to your day, and a way to get accessible training.
Most Accessible: Learning tutorials online! It's how a lot of people used to do it back in the day. There's also choreographers like Matt Stefania and 1Million Dance, who post tutorials to their choreography on Youtube. Also - Shout Out to Steezy Studio!
Cover Image by: Sreang Hok