Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays comprised of carpools to internship. Tuesdays and Thursdays – same lectures, shared studying, all topped with a grueling dance practice lasting well into the early hours of the morning.
Brenda Lienh and William Lam were inseparable – their schedules simply wouldn’t allow otherwise.
Before these shared routines were established, both had the individual desire to take up dance. Lienh, a fourth-year communication studies student, met Lam, a fourth-year sociology student, at her first dance practice for UCLA’s Vietnamese Student Union Modern during the winter quarter of 2013. From the very first time she performed with VSU Modern, Lam has been there to watch, said Lienh.
After exchanging numbers at practice, the two noticed they surprisingly had the same phone area code from the San Gabriel Valley. Lam drove Lienh home one day, shocked to discover that his home was just five minutes down the street from Lienh.
Lienh and Lam bonded over dance and began their relationship in July of 2013. Since then, the duo have danced with VSU Modern, Cal Poly Pomona’s Filipino Barkada team and currently with the Samahang Modern group on campus.
However, dance is only one item on Lienh’s and Lam’s shared activities list. Both interned for BCBG Max Azria in 2014. In 2015, they worked at NBC Universal’s E! Entertainment, with Lienh interning in international marketing and Lam in digital property.
“I guess you could say we’re somewhat of a package deal,” Lam said.
As current interns at Snapchat, Lienh and Lam work staggered shifts on the international Snapchat stories. On campus, Lienh is the director of networking night and Lam is the director of design for UCLA’s Undergraduate Communication Association.
Kyla Nguyen, a fourth-year year political science student, has danced with Lienh and Lam on VSU Modern and Samahang Modern, and spends nearly every day with them. Usually, couples who dance on the same team can run into some unpleasant tensions, Nguyen said.
“Maybe one doesn’t like criticism, or one feels inferior,” Nguyen said. “But because (Lienh and Lam) have been dancing with each other for so long, they’re comfortable with it all.”
Nguyen said the couple being in each other’s company is almost always a given.
“They’re always together. If I’m texting one of them, chances are they’re with each other, so I don’t even have to worry about telling the other person because they’ll find out,” Nguyen said.
With similar logic, thinking patterns and ambitions, the couple align not only in dance but in their professional lives, Nguyen said. However, the seemingly constant contact has not hindered their individuality.
Lienh characterized herself as bubbly and outgoing, while Lam has a better ability to exude more serious and emphatic qualities.
“She’s better at going with the flow and working through stressful situations, whereas I’m the one freaking out,” Lam said, laughing in response.
Lam said support is critical to their progress as dancers, whether it be by recording each other’s practice routine or giving critiques and tips.
“In the context of dance, it’s hard to see your own growth,” Lam said. “It’s cool to have someone right there next to you who can observe and report back to you.”
Sharing the frustrations of struggling to nail a routine, as well as the joy of witnessing progress has broken the couple out of their shells, Lam said.
Lienh attributes her confidence to dance, as competing on a stage in front of large audiences has pushed her out of her comfort zone and into the spotlight.
With Samahang Modern’s upcoming performance on Jan. 17, Lienh said the couple will be depending on one another once again as teammates in dance and partners in a relationship.
“We push each other. We’re each other’s cheerleaders. We balance each other out,” Lam said. The two nodded in agreement – naturally.