Ellen Kim is a striving dancer and choreographer from the Bay Area, training independently in dancing and choreographing for over 9 years. She began dancing with City Shock SF under the direction of Darnell Carroll when she was a sophomore in high school. After dancing with City Shock for five years, she later became a dance captain and contributing choreographer for the group.
Ellen has also danced with other groups such as No Label (Yusef Nasir), Khaotic (David Collier), Culture Shock Oakland (Kim Batiste), Khamai (Leelee Brewster) , and Funkanometry San Francisco (Emerson Aquino). After joining Funkanometry SF in 2004, Ellen’s passion for dance, as well as her amazing performance abilities, earned her a spot on the Funks SF Artistic Circle as one of their leading Dance Principals. She has since choreographed many pieces for the company, and continues to inspire and set a high standard for her fellow company members through her leadership and dance talent. In 2008, she was motivated to start her own company with Kyle Hanagami called the Lost Kids. Six individuals from the Bay has come together to use their love for dancing to help out their communities by holding workshops to raise money for different charities.
Ellen Kim has been blessed to share her passion for dancing with people from all parts of the world covering cities from the Bay Area, East Coast, Australia, UK, and all the way to Oslo, Norway. These amazing opportunities to share her love for dancing and choreographing keeps her motivated and very inspired. Teaching and spreading her passion for dancing to all different kinds of dancers keeps her going strong!! Being able to share something so fun and special with others is all Ellen wants to do!!! LIVE IT UP!! God Bless!!
Could you tell me a little bit about how you got into dancing?
Ever since I was a little girl I’d always been running around and being active. I really only got into dancing through watching my Mum’s Madonna Live Tour VHS: she would never let me watch it, but, whenever she went out I would put it in and watch her perform. I know alot of people were massively influenced by Michael Jackson but, for me, it was Madonna. Which is a bit wierd as she’s not really a hip hop act. She was really creative though, and, watching her was when I knew I really wanted to dance.
You frequently travel around the world to teach; are there any countries you particularly enjoy?
I really like Holland; I just came fom Holand- They’re amazing because, not only do they really want to learn hip hop, Youtube style dancing, they also want to learn girly choreography, they want to learn contemporary, they want to learn anything and they’re so hungry. I respect that because they’re only interested in one style. I also love coming to Sunshine and Manchester, I’ve seen them grow since I’ve been coming here, 2008.
Hip Hop dancing is popular with young people all over the world, why do you think it’s so appealing?
I think its almost a cult. It’s a really healthy way to express yourself. It releases tension, it releases you emotion. You don’t have to say anything to dance but people still understand what you’re talking about. The feeling you get when you’re dancing is a feeling you can’t get anywhere else. I teach around the world so a lot of people can’t understand me but everyone has a sense of rhythm, dance really is a universal language
You’re involved in Movement Lifestyle, could you tell me a little bit about it?
Well it was created by Shaun Evaristo and its an agency company; they have alot of choreographers, they help us manage our bookings. Shaun recently opened up a studio so we’re all teaching there and its amazing; the vibe there is great.
Could you tell us about your move to LA?
I moved there in February this year. I had lived there before, 5 years ago, but I moved back home: San Francisco. I clearly wasn’t ready then to join the highly competitive dancing world. But, after moving there this year I’ve found the competition really inspiring and encouraging. In LA the pace is much faster, I would say that, in LA, I improve as much within a month as I did within a year in San Francisco. Because the pace is so fast if you don’t step up your game you will be left behind.
In your experience how has the internet and particulary sites like youtube helped you promote yourself as a dancer/choreographer?
Youtube, I think, made dancing even bigger and even more acceptable. There are pros and cons to Youtube though. Obviously for networking or marketing its great, its also great for kids that wouldn’t normally have access to dance culture. For kids in a country with little dance culture they can watch Youtube and get influence and inspiration. But this has a downside as many people that copy the routines aren’t properly trained and don’t have an understanding of what goes into creating a routine. So there are definitely pros and cons but it certainly changed the game. A new development is the professionalism and production values in modern dance videos: they’re beginning to look more like short films.
Would you say that your video ‘You’ve got the Love’ would fit into this category? And do you have any more projects like that?
Yeah, I’ve just shot my first concept video with this guy named X, he’s from San Diego. So hopefully that’s coming out in January. I’ve go a lot of other projects in the works now, so you’ll see all of it. ‘You’ve got the Love’ was just the beginning. It’s something that I saw in my head when I was listening to the song and, whether people liked it or not, I loved it. It was different, I wanted to do something different and show people my artistic side. I feel like, right now, I really want to tell a story. Or I really want t be creative in what I do, I don’t want to be stuck in this one realm of dance, and this mindset of dancing. I’d rather tap into different arts by thinking outside of the box.
On first thought, you might think that the idea of whacking seems more of a way to keep the annoying sibling off your case than a dance move, and in a way you’d be right…..If used inappropriately that is!
Waacking in dancing is the rapid, usually angular movement of the arms: very effective when used in synchronisation in class or a performance. Effective in the impressive as opposed to the violent sense of course. Waacking has been deemed a generally more feminine technique, but this is no stereotypical girlish flailing arm. In fact the feminist in me is struggling to see why Waacking has got this reputation. As far as I can see, Waacking takes a lot of control and energy to punctuate solid arm movements within a generally fluid routine. Of course the dancer is not glued to the spot and footwork is involved, but the main characteristic of whacking is the strong arms amidst a bag full of attitude.
Waacking’s partner in crime is termed vogueing – a set of posed moves inspired by the legendary Madonna video. Despite the rather quirky names, the two together create a fast-paced dance style refreshingly different from the conventional emphasis on footwork. Iconic and powerful: maybe this feminine stereotype is a compliment after all.
Street dance is almost an underground movement but for the dancers taking part, it is their life. Only the lucky ones can call it their career. And amongst the dancers, many back-stories centre on dance keeping young people out of trouble. From drugs to gangs, young people can easily fall into the wrong crowd. The riots dominating the news recently proves this point, having reinvented the terrible stereotype of young people as thuggish, violent and threatening. Young people setting fire to shops, looting them for all their worth and running away from the police is exactly the kind of behaviour diagnosing fear and shame on the new generation. Recently there has been nothing positive to report.
This is where street dance could come in. What if there was an alternative to the violence? More passion, creativity, inspiration? Not anger, criminality, frustration? Street dance as a culture allows people to express themselves in a way that is unique to anything experienced at home or at school. Using the body and movement to let off some steam and create something visually impressive, not using the body and movement to smash a window or floor a policeman. It would be too simplistic to believe that we can conquer a generation’s dissatisfaction with street dance, but wouldn’t it be nice? Family values and discipline. Community spirit and determination. It seems like the perfect antidote.
Idealistic? Maybe. But there’s hope. Sunshine Studios’ summer camp 2011 attracted hundreds of this so-called disaffected generation. Spending a summer in a world away from the stresses of normality and learning a skill to open up expression. Channelling negative energy doesn’t have to take a violent turn, it can take a creative one. There IS room for manoeuvre. Maybe it is street dance which can continue taking the frustration of everyday life from the streets and into the dance.
Week Four of Sunshine Studios Dance Camp 2011. Working in the Sunshine Studios office you are pretty much shut off from the world of dancing but never from the wall-breaking music or stomping of enthusiastic feet. But there is one aspect of dance that casts calm over the studios from the music to the stomping to the conversations about it. That calm is core.
I have reason to believe core is the mother of all dance evils and I have this on very good eavesdropping knowledge. But then again it is known that dancers are prone to a bit of drama. The ‘I’m doing core next’ is almost without fail followed by a pitiful look from veteran to newbie: they just don’t know what they’re in for. It has not been unknown for core to be used as a failsafe to make over-excitable children a little less excitable and a little more tired out and controllable. As ever, I’m curious.
So I discovered that core is the focus on the strengthening of muscles. So far, not so scary. But add in fierce repetition and increasingly competitive intensity, and those lacklustre sit ups I do on my bedroom floor no longer seem like the Everest I’ve made them out to be. It’s the leg lifts, reverse crunches and press ups we all do in the privacy of our own homes taken and transported to a public place next to other like-minded, competitive people. There is a lot to be said about competition to really get the best out of someone. Not to be beaten, to prove something. Motivation through competition is a lot more effective than self-motivation which is why core can, and does, get so intense. Without a yardstick it is all too easy to give up.
Just wanting to tone or lose weight can be all too easily ruined by that pesky chocolate biscuit next to your cup of tea. But inside the studio in these core sessions, there’s no room for the easy way out. Core gets results and from what I have seen, which is a lot of red faces, this is definitely no sit up in a bedroom; this is an intensive, skilful dance camp making students stronger and more in touch with what it takes to be a dancer. There are no complaints; just a common understanding that core is a more than necessary evil.
I was quite intrigued by the concept of ‘contemporary dance’ when I saw it written on the Sunshine Studios timetable. Isn’t contemporary just whatever is current? Isn’t everything contemporary at some moment in time? I was definitely missing something.
Curiosity got the better of me so I went along and stood in the back of one of the classes- not very inconspicuously considering one wall is made up entirely of mirrors. It reminded me of ballet but without the tutus or the crippled toes. In fact it was quite moving to watch a room full of people interpreting the music in such a beautiful way: quite a change to the street dancing I’m used to seeing but a welcome one at that.
It was quite indescribable, which doesn’t bode well for a blog post explaining it. There’s just always something quite mesmerising about watching a group of people moving in unison, flowing from one move to the next. The routine was simple yet effective with a lot of sweeping arms, fluid turns and a definite need for flexibility. The contrast of half rolls on the floor to big sweeping spins engaged the whole body: it looked quite liberating to do, if not a little quirky to watch.
I’d never heard of contemporary dance before coming here and after seeing a class I’m eager to try it out: but first a few inhibitions need to be lost followed by a good amount of limbering up.
So it’s been 5 years since the regions’ leading performing arts studio first came to light, and released some sunshine into this somewhat gloomy northern climate! Sunshine has given the neighbourhood a place to go and be free to dance, offering a wide range of dance styles, arts services and popular events!
Jerry Tse, the owner, director, manager and dance teacher for this fast growing dance studio is, you could say, an expert in dance studio DIY quite literally. Starting from renting out studios in what are now the local competition, to finding a building Sunshine could finally call home!
He recognised the opportunity and created a dance community in the northwest which can be appraised for its unpretentious, genuine nature, driven by a passion for dance and building a friendly dance unity. His pure passion for dance along with business savvy has got Sunshine studios to where it is now!
A huge THANKYOU, from Jerry goes out to all the people that hand painted, welded, pieced together every last bit of the studio and helped it gradually become what it is now! And THANKYOU to all the loyal students, teachers and staff that have made Sunshine so successful! (Stay with us it can only get better).
There will be promotions and special offers, so sit tight and put the 21st August in your diary, when Manchester’s biggest dance studio turns 5 !!
Are street dancing and hip-hop dancing the same thing? Ask five dancers and you’ll get five different answers, because while these styles do overlap, they’ve each definitely got their own thing going on, too. Hip-hop dance came first, originating from a cultural movement that started in New York in the 1970s. This is the same movement that rapping, DJing and graffiti sprang from—a movement that introduced the world to explosive yet elegant art forms that had been incubating in New York’s African American community for years.
When hip-hop broke, it broke fast. Seemingly overnight, suburban schoolchildren began break dancing and “the running man” became an aerobics class staple. Hip-hop’s expressive, energetic style incorporates popping, locking, house and most recently, krumping; all of which are fun challenges for any aspiring dancer to tackle.
Hip-hop dancing is based on a series of hard to master skills, but street dancing is more relaxed and improvisational. Street dancing is more like what you’d see in a dance club, in an Usher video or at a party. It’s something almost anyone can enjoy after they learn a few basic moves, and it’s a great way to get moving. This style of dancing is often mixed with harder-to-master hip-hop moves, and the two styles overlap so much that telling them apart is usually a personal distinction. Learning both simultaneously makes for a challenging dance experience with a party attitude and a generous amount of shaking what your mother gave you.
The Studio Voice is Sunshine Studios new blog where over the coming weeks, months and years we will be bringing you the latest news from inside Sunshine Studios in a more interactive way than was possible before.
We want and need your input to keeps things fresh and funky so you need get involved.
So whatever the discussion of the day maybe don’t forget to give us your feedback as it’s this kind of input that helps us make Sunshine Studios the unique and innovative place it is.
So check back soon for all the latest.
The Sunshine Family DEDICATED TO DANCE, THE ARTS AND OUR STUDENTS
A non-audition program for serious dancers in need of financial assistance with their intensive training. Work-Study participants are selected through an application and interview process.
You must already be living in the area of the studio to apply for this program, and be a EU citizen. Once accepted into the program, Work-Study students are assigned a work schedule in various positions in the studio or on the cleaning staff in exchange for discounted classes/courses. For every hour of work in this program, the student earns a free/discounted class/course!
Not only will gain training but also an insight into the industry and an opportunity to network with professionals in the industry.