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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

Over the past two quarters, I’ve had the opportunity of being on a dance team here at UCLA. You’ve probably seen us dancing away in the parking lots late into the night, blasting music super loudly out of speakers as you try to peacefully walk to class past Pauley. But the dance community at this school– specifically the open-style dance community– is a wonderful, vibrant, welcoming space, and I wanted to share a little bit about my experience after a year on the team!

The team I’m on here is called ACA All Day, an open-style dance team. Open-style dance is like an amalgamation of a bunch of different dance genres like hip hop, popping, breaking, lyrical, contemporary, and more. It emphasizes learning and performing choreography rather than training. There are multiple different teams here at UCLA that focus on open-style choreography like VSU Modern, NSU Modern, Samahang Modern, Foundations, and ACA All Day. 

I tried out for my team, ACA All Day, at the beginning of winter quarter. They hold auditions in the beginning of the school year and at the time I tried out, called Midyears. Although I was interested in trying out for multiple teams here, I was especially attached to ACA. I remember watching one of their performances when I was in middle school, and it always stuck with me as something I wanted to do once I got to college.

However, I was not expecting to make it on the team. Although I took dance classes when I was younger, my dance journey has been majoritively self-taught, learning dances off of YouTube in my free time. I felt such a strong sense of pride when I made the team, but I also felt like an imposter. The people on my team had some insane backgrounds in dance. Most people had triple the years of studio experience I had, and had competed for years in dance. A few of them have been featured in music videos. A bunch of them taught their own classes at studios in their hometowns. One of them was even a cheerleader for a Japanese basketball team for multiple years. But I committed myself to the process, and I can safely say that I’ve improved immensely since the beginning of the season!

Also, I think that because of this diversity in backgrounds, not only in dance but culturally as well, it serves as a catalyst for team bonding. The team is really diverse, with people from various different countries and of different heritage. And since I’m in Greek Life, I feel grateful for being able to engage with people who have such different backgrounds from me. I feel as though the ties I made with every member on the team were strong.

But in addition, our long nights of training, practice, and rehearsals also served to bring us together. I won’t lie when I say that this team was a time commitment. Our practices, sometimes multiple times a week, would sometimes feel long and draining. But this training was incredibly valuable and worthwhile for our performances. We actually just competed in Battle Royale, a competition between the various teams at UCLA, and won!

All in all, my time on my dance team has been undoubtedly one of the most rewarding experiences here so far. Being able to dedicate hours to something I love to do so dearly, along with others who feel the same, has made my first year at UCLA so special. I can’t wait to return to it next year!

Annie is a first-year student at UCLA from Connecticut majoring in Political Science and Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences. In her free time she loves dancing, working out, and baking.