From 2019 Dance Graduate Elizabeth Jolivet. “Liz” received her AA Dance Degree and transferred to California State University at East Bay to receive her Bachelor of Arts degree. She enrolled in the Theater Arts: Dance and Inclusive Performance Concentration.
“My life, my education, my passion, even my career all share a common thing-the love of dance. Therefore, to me, the value of having a dance degree is incalculable.
My dance teachers will forever hold a special place in my heart. They have made me laugh and cry and I am a stronger woman because of their guidance. I have studied many forms: Jazz, Modern, Haitian, Tap, Ballet, Samba, this list goes on. I received my degree in dance at Laney College for several reasons. Taking dance classes allowed me to express myself, accept criticism, have fun, obtain my fitness goals, and learn the technique of performing. My aspiration… is to combine dance with a variety of other art forms and disciplines. With these degrees in hand and with my experience, I can achieve my dream of becoming a dance therapist. I currently work in the social service field as a Crisis Residential Specialist. My clientele consists of people who suffer from depression and other mental illnesses. Every week I lead movement groups that incorporate dance. I teach my clients the importance of exercise and the joy of capering. It is rewarding to watch their low moods and sad faces turn into laughter and smiles. Dance is powerful. For me, Dance is Life. The things I’ve done with my life have made me what I am and I would not alter that one kick-step.
I would advise future dance majors to follow their dream and take as many dance classes their schedule will allow. The more dance classes a dancer takes the better dancer they will become. Get to know every dance teacher in the program. Every teacher at Laney College has an abundance of knowledge and experience to share. If dance is your major–do your best to wear thick skin. Take your teachers advice even when it hurts. And come back…and keep coming back! Have fun and remember why dance is your major. It’s about Joy!”
Minh Tran. ★ Dance 68/Modern I
“I had a great time this semester learning all about dance with a fun instructor and enthusiastic classmates. We were told on the first day that dance class was no joke, but we managed to stir up some laughter at every practice. My favorite part of class is when we walk across the floor. We get to dance to different types of music and we get to mix in our own personal styles. It’s definitely fun to see everyone cut loose before we start our workout. The exercises were intense, and some even too advanced to pull off, but i could feel my body adapting; I never knew that dancing could be such a good workout….I would definitely recommend this class to anyone looking to learn how to dance, looking to challenge themselves, or just simply looking for fun.
Deontae Watkins. ★ Dance 68/Modern I
“My dance class experience this semester was different, interesting, and humbling. This was my first college level dance class and in the beginning I was afraid that I would not be good enough. However, once I got into the dance studio that quickly changed. There I realized how instructional, fundamental, and communal this class was. I had a lot of fun dancing this semester, under the guidance of our professor Ms. Burgess. Her beloved nature and motherly spirit inspired of us (students) to perform our best… Overall, I really enjoyed my dance experience this semester and I am excited to continue it next semester Spring 2020. ”
“I’ll never forget the first day when within a few minutes, we were already going across the floor to Michael Jackson…At the end of class, we do a check-in which helps everyone express their feelings; if they want to or just say that they’re hungry. Overall, I can’t wait for the show, but it’s sad that we only have a few more weeks left of class.”
Annie Dang. ★ Dance 68/Modern I
“When I graduated high school, I knew that I wanted to join a dance class in hopes of finding my creative outlet. This class has become a great stress reliever for me; especially with being a student and working a part-time job. But more importantly, Modern dance allows me to be in the moment, giving me the inspiration and ability to express myself. ”
“I love this class! I am really excited to learn new choreography every time I walk into the dance studio. Modern dance is a new dance style for me, but I am ready, willing and want to challenge myself. Through dance I’m hoping to train others to help those who are in need, specifically health care. Hopefully, my passion for the arts will help me to heal those both inside and out.”
Alumni Denice Simpson-Braga
It was at El Cerrito High School when I fell in love with dance and knew it would forever be a part of my life! I started dancing at El Cerrito High School under the tutelage and mentorship of Jacqueline Burgess. She instilled in me a work ethic that I still employ today. The dance studio became my second home, as well as my sanctuary. All of my studying, hard work and determination paid off. Ms. Burgess soon selected me for several “Burgess Dances”.
After graduating high school, I continued my dance training under Carolyn Himes at Laney College. Ms. Himes saw my potential and took me to audition for Dimensions Dance Theater; the same company where Ms. Burgess had been a principle dancer.
I was accepted and started as an apprentice dancer with Dimensions Dance Theater under the Direction co-founder, Deborah Vaughan. I worked hard to make my way up the dance latter, while still attending classes at Laney College. Again, my hard work and perseverance paid off. I made Principle Dancer!
After attending Laney College, I transferred to and graduated from San Francisco State University with a Bachelor of Art Degree in African American Studies, while still dancing with DDT. My desire for higher education brought me to UCLA where I received my Master’s Degree in World Arts and Cultures with an emphasis on Dance Education.
As a member of Dimensions Dance Theater I have toured nationally and internationally. I’m versed in a variety of dance styles including Jazz, Ballet, Contemporary and Traditional African. In addition to being a Principal Dancer with the company, I am a member of the Board of Directors, and a teacher for the company’s Rites of Passage Program.
Upon completing my degree at UCLA I relocated to Hawaii for several years where I began studies of Kahiko (traditional) and ‘Auana (contemporary) hula with Namakahonuakapiliwale Hula Halau in Wai’anae, Hawaii. I am still studying both traditional and contemporary hula and working towards completion of my 3rd of 4 levels in hula under the guidance of and with Kumu Hula Momi Cruz Losano of Namakahonuakapiliwale.
I am also a member of Mau Loa Ohana Hula in Antioch under the directorship of Monique Castenada. In January 2020, I’ll be returning to Hawaii for my Uniki Ceremony, which is very similar to a Masters Graduation ceremony.