If you know me, you know that I love dance.
At 21 years old, I decided to do something absurdly brave—in my mindset. Some people say that going off to Japan by myself at 20 years old is ballsy. To me, that was nothing. No, what took extreme courage was realizing my passions and my dream. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to dance though I never did.
The course of my childhood is riddled with objections about why I couldn’t do something or how there was something wrong with me.
But one day in Shibuya, Japan, when I was walking along Meiji-dori and pondering what I wanted to do with my life, I saw a sign. A very literal, ginormous sign.
東京ダンス＆アクターズ専門学校, it said. Tokyo Dance & Actors Vocational School.
For a moment, I thought to myself, “Well, you always did want to dance. Who’s going to tell you no?”
I went back to the dormitory, did some research, and just like that I soon found myself surrounded by extremely curious Tokyo DA staff. A bunch of questions were fired at me, like where I came from and how long I’d been dancing. I remember the burning embarrassment of confessing that I had never once taken a dance class.
“Dance is just a hobby,” I kept repeating.
Then I took a class in Musical Theater. We danced to “Sparkling Diamonds”—the version sung by Nicole Kidman. Dance wasn’t just a hobby anymore.
Since then, I haven’t looked back from pursuing the dream of becoming a professional dancer. To me, a late start is better than no start. I’ve made tremendous hurdles in as little as 4 years of technical training. Of course, I’ve also ran face-first into multiple barricades. There were those who criticized my age, my scoliosis, and my physique. Others told me not to be delusional or that I would never progress. Simultaneously, I received support from fantastic dancers and friends. If it wasn’t for that support, I would have probably given up. Some of my instructors provided crucial information and helped me hone my technique rapidly. Though I highly doubt it was done consciously, a few actually sabotaged me with incorrect advice. It is merely how they were educated.
Regardless, here I am at 25 years old, finally a student of Tokyo Dance & Actors Vocational School in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan! Golly.
The funny thing is that even before officially enrolling into 東京DA, I had attended a trial class at a studio in Ikebukuro called Dance Village. There I met a Hip Hop dancer named Miwaki Kamiya. At the end of the lesson, he asked me if I planned on coming back to Japan, because if that was the truth, he could definitely help me out. Right, I thought, you must take me for a sucker. But I contacted him as I said I would, because just for a moment I wanted to believe that he saw potential.
I wanted to believe that this could be the start of something magical.
It was. I’m going to be taking to the stage alongside Miwaki and his M.Dream Dance Group on May 1st, 2016 in a piece featuring Michael Jackson inspired hip hop/jazz choreography.
It’s kind of crazy how a single step in the direction of my dreams somehow brought me to this point. It’s crazy, too, how I’m thinking to myself, does this make me a dancer now? Deep down inside, I always have been.
On the eve of my 1 month anniversary of living in Japan again, I am hopeful about what the future will bring.