As the Coed National Champions, KIPP Houston High School’s KIPP Krew dance group recently traveled to NYC to train in dance on an Education Performance tour. Priscilla, now a junior, who was part of the founding KIPP SHINE class, shares her experience. Please read her reflections below.
Not many dancers are able to say they get the chance to travel to the city of dance with their high school team. This year KIPP Krew, notorious for our lively and passionate dances, decided to take a year to focus on the fundamentals of dance. Through fundraising – selling t-shirts, sweaters and chocolates, hosting dance clinics, and selling tickets to our very own Winter Gala – we made a trip to the Big Apple! Although the weather tried to bring us down, 29 dancers and four chaperones embarked on a trip to the city of lights on Friday, March 17.
Our excitement arose as we saw the city from above at 30,000 feet. We landed in the cold city, buzzing with excitement. New York’s harsh winds tested our sun-dependent skin, but we persevered itching to explore. Our first stop was to see the Wicked on Broadway musical which was a lively two-hour show of song and dance. The talented actors brought to life characters that captivated us with their ability to convey realistic emotions, while singing and dancing. Our second musical, Cats, entranced us with its uniqueness to display the characteristics of cats and tell a memorable story through dynamic music numbers as well.
The beautiful landmarks in the city (Statue of Liberty, One World Observatory, 9/11 Memorial Museum) helped us see the beauty of New York and learn its history. The Statue of Liberty gleamed in the sun as we marveled in its significance to American immigrants back in the 1900’s. The One World Observatory took our breath away entrapping us with a 360 view of New York City, allowing us to see the city’s beautiful skyscrapers and buzzing streets. The 9/11 Memorial made us commemorate the lives that were lost on September 11, 2001 and see the severity of the devastation first hand. This enabled us to have a newfound respect for the city that took a tragic event and used it to unite and build-up its community.
Chinatown and Little Italy allowed us to test our bargaining skills and buy copious amounts of souvenirs for our friends and family. At night, Times Square came to life. Its lively stores with bright lights and street performers acting, singing, and dancing, fascinated us. We even became celebrities for the night with a live billboard on Times Square above American Eagle Outfitters.
The wide array of food also kept us happy. From enormous pizza at John’s Pizzeria, to paninis, and spaghetti and meatballs at La Nonna in Little Italy, we experienced eating traditional meals at amazing restaurants. Ellen’s Stardust Diner amazed us when their workers brought Broadway to breakfast. Broadway hopefuls sang around the restaurant and served us delicious food entertaining our minds…and our bellies!
Our college visits to Columbia University and New York University gave us a glimpse of our possible futures. As we viewed the university’s beautiful architecture, we saw determined students walking to class, hoping one day to be in their shoes.
And what opened our eyes the most on this trip, was taking classes from a professional Broadway dancer, Alvin Ailey Dance Company member, and NYU dance instructor. These experiences showed us how busy the industry is, as well as how hard dancers have to work doing what they love. Their stories inspired all of us as they told us about their journey to be able to get where they are now. It wasn’t easy. They each shared how they stayed true to their passion, regardless of any opposition they might have gotten from family or friends. This motivated us in a way that pushes past dance, and ties into a KIPP value that teaches us every day to strive in our academic and personal lives: Work Hard and Be Nice.
By: Priscilla Takyi