San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Student uses dance as inspiration

During the four years that dance senior Nhu Nguyen has been at San Diego State, she has begun to make a name for herself among the dance community.

Born in Vietnam, Nhu said that she started dancing at the age of four as a way to stay active and she has not stopped since.

“As a child you’re going to want to run around and do things,” she said. “For me, dancing acted as an outlet and was [a] fun activity.”

She said that she started dancing professionally around age seven at the Academy of Dance in Vietnam.

Nhu said that she recalls a time in her youth that made her realize that dance was her passion.

After moving to the United States from Vietnam at 15, Nhu said that she stopped dancing for two years in order to focus more on assimilating to Western culture.

She said that in the span of those two years, she started to feel like she was “going crazy” because she didn’t have her creative outlet.

When she began dancing again at age 17, she said she realized she wanted to make a career out of dance instead of just doing it for fun.

In high school, Nhu was a member of the dance team for three years and served as the team captain for two.

She also said that she worked with a non-profit organization called Transcendance Youth Art Project as a performance group member before being asked to be a choreographer and artistic director.

Nhu said that she has been in more shows than she can count. She recently danced in Los Angeles in collaboration with another artists as part of a first generation artist showcase.

The showcase highlighted many artists who were the first in the family to attend school for their artistic passions.

Although she knew dance was her passion, Nhu originally started at the university as an interior design major, because she said she didn’t know about the dance program initially.

Nhu was invited to audition for the program after a coordinator saw her performing at a show with Transcendance Youth Art Project.

Nhu said she enjoys being in the dance program because of its small size.

“Everyone knows everyone,” she said. “There’s a close and personal mentorship with the professors.”

Nhu said that of all the dance classes she has taken at SDSU, her favorite is dance making.

The class was formed in 2015 and focuses on the use of a combination of choreography and improvisational dance to create dance routines.

Nhu said that the rigor of her dance training schedule is taxing on both the mind and the body.

She said that dancing is an art form that requires use of one’s entire self to create art.

“Everything that is part of my person is an instrument to my practice,” she said.

Nhu is focusing on modern dance and said she is constantly challenged to more further out of her comfort zone. Modern dance encompasses so many different styles, making the possibilities endless.

“Being uncomfortable is part of my daily practice,” she said.

Nhu said that she is most inspired by the people that she has been dancing with since coming to school in San Diego, most of them being the dance professors she has had over the course of her four years.

“They have been a constant source of inspiration and help me to push through even the most difficult days,” she said.

Nhu said that she also attributes her success to her life partner who has constantly expanded her mind and vision and encouraged her to follow her passion.

She said that her “hero” is Sara Shelton Mann, an artist based in San Francisco.

“Her work is largher than life and larger than herself,” she said. “She continues to inspire me constantly.”

Zack King, a first year transfer student double majoring in dance and theater, has worked with Nhu as both a directorial collaborator and as a dancer.

He said that one of his biggest takeaways working with Nhu was learning how to enter a project with the goal of achieving a specific vision.

“Problem solving looks different every time we begin a new project,” King said. “Being available and versatile to problem-solve in ways that are unfamiliar and has had profound impact on my artistic process.”

Upon graduating, Nhu said that she wants to travel and collaborate with different people from all around the world.

“Dance is universal, it’s the first language of humans in a sense,” she said.

Nhu said that she wants to use dance to make a connection with other artists who come from all different walks of life.

About the Contributor
Maya Carter
Maya Carter, Staff Writer
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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Student uses dance as inspiration