Arts & Culture / Mosaic / January 29, 2020

Student uses dance as artistic expression

Maggie Cheng dances during last term’s Terpsichore show. (Rob Nguyen/TKS)

Maggie Cheng, junior, knows that no matter what happens in her life, she will always come back to dance.

“It’s been one of those things that is such a big part of my life for all of middle school and high school, I just didn’t want to stop doing it,” she said. “It was a given, I knew that I was going to keep doing it as long as I could.”

After taking a break from dancing at around the age of seven, Cheng started dancing again at 12 years old and has not fallen out of love since.

Despite feeling that she missed what could have been some of the most formative years in her dancing career, Cheng has not let that stop her from dancing even though she sometimes feels like she is behind her fellow dancers in some aspects.

“If you really want to do something you have to work for it. I worked really hard, and it’s still hard sometimes. I feel like I’m missing some fundamental technique stuff, but I’ve come a long way and I think that anyone can do that. You don’t need to have been dancing since you were a baby to become a dancer in your own right,” said Cheng.

Through participating in the Terpsichore Dance Collective, working as a Zumba instructor and participating in Knox’s dance program, Cheng has found many ways to continue following her interest in dance.

Something that Cheng values about dance is the freedom it gives her to express her emotions and feelings with her body instead of having to use words.

“I love that dance, for me at least, is just an escape from the rest of the world,” she said. “When I’m dancing I’m not thinking about anything else, I’m not worried about anything else, I’m just in it. I think it’s important to have something like that.”

The style of dance that Cheng finds herself working with most often is lyrical contemporary, as that is what is offered in the dance program at Knox and something within her comfort zone, she admits that she still enjoys ballet.

“I have a special place in my heart for ballet. It’s where my foundation is — my studio had ballet, jazz, tap, hip hop — but we had an hour and a half extra for ballet. There’s something I’ve always loved about it, it’s something I’m always coming back to,” Cheng said.

Within the dances that she choreographs herself, Cheng has found many ways to form personal connections to them through the music and lyrics or through the dance itself.

Though Cheng finds that the dance world can be very competitive and there is an inherent sense of comparison between most dancers, it is a place that she finds herself able to express herself the most and somewhere she wants to stay involved in for as long as she can.

After Knox, Cheng wants to make dance her career in any way possible, whether that be teaching at a studio, being a part of a company, becoming a choreographer. Or any number of other things. While she knows that it is not the most sustainable career, she can’t imagine herself pursuing anything else.

“I definitely want it to be a part of my future, I know that more than pretty much everything else,” she said.


Tags:  art Artist of the week dance terpsichore

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