By Josee Smith
For co-director Jonathan Leung ’17, what most attracted him to Alliance Streetdance when he first joined as a freshman was the camaraderie of the group.
“They were like a family of sorts,” he said in reference to watching them in performances and at their auditions. “I really liked Alliance’s style…People sold it well, it really seemed like they had a good time dancing.”
Beginning to dance
Leung knew he wanted to dance for one of the hip hop teams at Stanford when he first arrived on campus, as he had been dancing hip hop since his junior year of high school.
“Junior year, I saw Step Up 2 and was inspired by Madd Chadd, the robot guy, and he just blew me away with his control, the effect of his body, with zero computer effects,” he said. “I started practicing in my bathroom…and joined a new dance team at my high school started by a guy with previous experience.”
Co-director Elijah Williams ’17 was similarly inspired by a hip hop movie (You Got Served), though he started dancing when he was much younger.
“When I was little, my mom would turn on music and we would just dance together, so that’s where I learned a lot of foundational stuff,” he said. “After seeing the movie, that’s when I started taking classes formally.”
The third co-director, Andy Le BS’14, MA ’15, wasn’t actually much of a dancer when he joined Alliance his junior year.
“I never really imagined myself dancing in high school at all,” he said. “I started out freshman year [at Stanford] being pretty antisocial, too, but decided that maybe I should probably get a life and be more social, so I went with a friend who recommended that I join Common Origins with her.”
Le enjoyed the family atmosphere and room for growth that he found with Common Origins, but he began to identify with the dance style of Alliance more and went to their auditions after junior year.
“I just really clicked with dance,” he added. “What kept me going was definitely the people and my own desire to grow.”
The difficulties of dance groups
While each director appreciated the family aspect of the group and how close they all have gotten as a result of their performances and practices, they all also recognized some difficulties in having a dance group at Stanford.
“The entire dance community is freaking out about dancing space,” Leung said. “We’re starting to think about practicing outside…It’d be super nice to have extra room, especially for competition teams that need to be on point with mirrors.”
For Le and Williams, their greatest difficulty comes from learning to balance Alliance with the rest of their lives.
“It’s just so easy to prioritize [the group] over everything else, which is really detrimental,” Williams said. “I only want to take 2 classes, only 12 units, and my parents are not too happy, but I just enjoy it so much.”
“It just takes over your life,” Le added. “I’ve skipped a lot of class in the past year or two because of [Alliance].”
The strong community
According to Leung, the really strong family-style bonding that the three directors love began to be encouraged during the last year, when the then-directors focused more on setting the baseline of the family aspect of Alliance. The three directors this year are now trying to add their own twist to that aspect, by encouraging more community between the members of Alliance and also with other dance groups on campus.
“People are not just here to dance, they’re here to bond with other people and share the love,” Leung added. “That’s a vibe that I’d love to see carried out forever.”
“I think there’s a strengthening of the hip hop community at Stanford in general,” Williams said. “I can feel the family vibe of the hip hop community…Whenever I see another person in another team, that person is legitimately my friend.”
“I’m really excited to take the team to new places,” Williams added. “The three of us have a very different vision from what we just left and how our vision plays out…What we’re trying to do [by encouraging more community] wouldn’t operate without that baseline last year.”
Contact Josee Smith at jsmith11 ‘at’ stanford.edu.