First Post-Pandemic Summer Dance Camp 2022

Written by: Crystal Chen and Meryl Zhang, FCSN Voices Youth Reporters

Graphics by: Kaitlyn Huynh, FCSN Voices Graphic Artist

From June 20 to July 18, FCSN held its 2022 Summer Dance Camp at the South Bay Center in San Jose. The camp consisted of weekly Monday lessons from 3:30-4:30 PM.

Instructed by student volunteers Claire Luo and Melinda Wong, this summer dance camp taught students fun dance moves, while also encouraging overall fitness and being physically active. In a typical lesson, the two instructors would first lead students in warm-ups, stretches, and “across the floor” exercises. Then, they would spend the remaining 30 minutes teaching students two dance practices. On the very last day of class, students performed their choreographies to “Just Like Fire” by P!nk and “Birthday” by Katy Perry; these performances gave students a visual representation of their progress, increasing their confidence on the dance floor.

Luo and Wong pose with two adult students of the 2022 FCSN Summer Dance Camp.

According to Wong, this camp was “accessible since it [was] completely free, non-judgmental, and really friendly.” Although only students with neurodiverse conditions participated in the 2022 camp, the class welcomes interested participants of all ages and dance capabilities. “I feel that it is very important to be able to share dancing with people around you who may not have access to dance classes, or the ability to dance,” said Wong.

During COVID-19, camps were held virtually, but this was the first in-person dance camp. Prior to the beginning of camp, Luo and Wong recruited students by sending out email invitations to all individuals in FCSN. Then, one month before camp started, Wong and Luo choreographed “Just Like Fire” and “Birthday” and began planning the logistics of hosting the camp in-person, such as when and where the camp would take place.

Students stretch and do warm-up exercises in the first half of every session.

However, Luo and Wong faced a challenge when they found themselves with smaller classes of two to five students because of scheduling conflicts and insufficient advertising. Because of this, the two instructors had to condense or get rid of dance formations that they originally choreographed for a larger class size. 

Still, they were able to overcome this challenge by embracing the advantages that come with smaller class sizes: “I get to focus my attention on smaller groups, reassure them, and guide them through every step,” said Wong. 

During the second half every session, students practice their choreographies under Luo’s and Wong’s guidance.

For future dance camps, Luo and Wong plan to teach longer lessons, experiment outside pop and jazz choreographies, and explore new genres such as contemporary to broaden the students’ horizons of dance styles. In addition, the two are implementing a creative aspect to the lessons by encouraging students to improvise their own dances. “And at the same time,” said Wong. “I hope that the next time Claire and I host a dance camp, we get to tailor the things we teach to each of the students’ interests.” 

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