Monday, February 25, 2013

Biding My Time at the Echo Park Time Travel Mart

Today marks the end of my first week as a volunteer and tutor at the always fascinating and ever-enchanting 826LA in Echo Park.

A Typical Item Sold at the Time Travel Mart 

826LA is a chapter of the non-profit organization 826National which has a total of 8 writing and tutoring centers all over the U.S. The first center was established in the Mission District of San Francisco by author Dave Eggers in 2002. Read more about the organization's interesting start here.

I first heard about 826LA during a dinner last year with my friend Kally. She told me about a friend of hers who worked at the infamous Pirate Supply Store on Valencia St. in San Francisco. Kally described 826Valencia as a wonderfully quirky institution who's purpose was not in fact, to sell pirate supplies, but to provide a space for kids to exercise and cultivate creativity. She mentioned that The Time Travel Mart in Echo Park was identical in concept. 

Though it had only been a few weeks since my "full-time" position as a freelance artist started, I already felt impatient and somewhat useless to society. Dancing is incredibly fulfilling. But it fulfills a very specific kind of void in my heart. I wanted to do something that wasn't self-serving; after looking up 826LA and reading about the various projects it put on, I applied to be a volunteer/tutor. 

826LA organizes the coolest programs for local students. It does everything from after school tutoring to bookmaking field trips. I participated in a little bit of everything this week: 

Tuesday and Wednesday - I helped 3rd grade students from Gabriella Charter School write, for the very first time, multi-paragraph narratives. 

Thursday - I was an after school tutor for 3 students, all of whom were either in the 3rd or 4th grade. Who knew "perimeter" would be a difficult concept to explain?

A Student Drew this Endearing Picture For Me
Saturday - The center put on a morning program called, "I Wanna Rock: How to From Your Own Air Band". Air guitarist Dan Crane came and taught students the fundamentals of playing air instruments. Clad in wacky wigs and leather goods we created rock-and-roll alter-egos (mine was "KareBear"), wrote lyrics to accompany a pre-chosen rock song, and performed our masterpieces.

Our Rock and Roll Costume Pieces
My Air Guitar Playing Debut
Today I plan on volunteering at the "Storytelling and Bookmaking Field Trip" during which an elementary school class visits 826LA (which is transformed into "_______ and _______ Publishing" for the day) and collaborates with us (the "writers" for said publishing company) to write a brand new story. By the end of the field trip, the students leave with a personalized published book complete with illustrations and professional binding. 

Sounds like fun, huh?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Daily Bruin Article

The Daily Bruin is the student-run newspaper at UCLA. It details important events and news that occur on and around campus. I always made sure to grab a copy of the day's paper at Ackerman Student Union when I was at UCLA to stay up-to-date with the goings-on in Westwood.

In 2010 the paper did an article on me that described my journey as a student and profesional dancer. The writer knew of me through a mutual friend and was curious to know more about my experiences. I was really excited to have my "story" documented and felt that she did a great job.

A few weeks ago, a Daily Bruin writer contacted me and expressed interest in doing a piece on my travels with Nicki Minaj. I was honored to be featured again in the "Arts and Entertainment" section of the paper last week:

While the piece in 2010 looked at my career from a broader standpoint, this article focused on a specific gig that I did after graduating from college. Until last week, I hadn't thought much about the job except that I was very proud to have been on a tour. But the writer, Karli Komoto, dug deeper beyond the surface. Her questions made me think about the tour's significance and helped me understand why touring for Nicki means so much to me as a professional dancer. You can read the awesome article here.

Thank you Karli, Blaine Ohigashi (photographer), and all the wonderful staff at Daily Bruin!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

My Boogiezone Class to Haim's "Don't Save Me"

I taught my third Boogeizone Contemporary class this past Wednesday at Focus Dance Center in Irvine, CA:

And while some of you may have considered my comment regarding my obsession with choreographing to Haim's music a joke, it wasn't. So here it is. My choreography to the last song in my small but powerful Haim music library:

Thankfully, the Haim sisters recently tweeted about a much anticipated (at least to me) release of a new EP! I look forward to hearing the jams these groovy ladies will come up with next.

Photo courtesy of Haim/Twitter
Thank you so much to Elm Pizarro, Boogiezone, and all the wonderful dancers who came to class (especially Marissa Osato and Will Johnston) for your continued support. I hope I'll be back at Boogiezone soon!

Friday, February 1, 2013

My Class to Haim's "Go Slow"

My first class at Edge PAC was INCREDIBLE:

Thank you to all the amazing dancers who came out today, and an especially big thank you to my NSU Modern friends for coming (and during midterm season too)!

As you can see, I have quite a knack for choreographing to Haim songs.

Problem is, I've just about gone through their entire track list. So either they'll have to come up with some new songs soon, or I'll have to start making stuff up to other artists.

Any suggestions?