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Gallery: Dancing to belong

By Angelina Ruiz

May 31, 2017 2:56 pm

Having been involved in figure skating and contemporary dance for years, first-year sociology student Anjali Valentine came to UCLA to expand her dancing abilities, particularly in the urban dance style. Her engagement with the UCLA dance community has made her feel she belongs at the university, she said.

(Angelina Ruiz/Daily Bruin)

Valentine says the dance community at UCLA was an important part of her decision to attend the school. “I knew for a fact that if I went to UCLA that I wanted to join a dance team. It seemed like something that was really big here," she said.

(Angelina Ruiz/Daily Bruin)

When Valentine came to UCLA, she knew that she wanted to expand her dancing abilities by learning the urban dance style. “I wanted to learn urban. I wanted to get involved in some kind of extracurricular that I was really passionate about, but I also wanted to challenge myself by exploring a different style altogether,” she said.

(Angelina Ruiz/Daily Bruin)

The first dance team that Valentine joined when she came to UCLA was Foundations Choreography. “Foundations is specifically catered to beginners and intermediate dancers that want to grow,” she said. “The chief thing that I hear from so many people who are beginners is, ‘I can’t dance,' and I always say, ‘Yes! That’s why you should join Foundations.'”

(Angelina Ruiz/Daily Bruin)

Valentine gives the following advice to anyone interested in dancing at UCLA: “If anybody even has an inkling inside them saying, ‘Maybe I should try dance,’ I would say, ‘Yes! Go for it!’ You’re never too old to do it, you’re never too unskilled. The most important part is that you do it. It’s so much worse to regret not trying.”

(Angelina Ruiz/Daily Bruin)

When asked how dance has impacted her experience at UCLA, Valentine said, “Dance is literally the UCLA student body. Almost everybody here either was a dancer, is a dancer, will be a dancer or will participate in some kind of dance event.” Valentine believes that dancing at UCLA has really made her feel that she belongs at UCLA. Valentine believes that dance teaches one to step out of their comfort zone, both physically and mentally. “It’s all about taking risks and it’s really inspired me to do things that I’m afraid to do. I think that’s something really special about it personally,” she said.

(Angelina Ruiz/Daily Bruin)

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Angelina Ruiz | Photographer