By Maria Perry |Staff Writer|
Senior Briana Pena has been a dancer ever since she learned to walk. After she developed her innate passion for dancing, Pena began taking hip-hop dance classes when she was seven.
While growing up in a tough environment, Pena was mostly drawn to the therapeutic relief that hip-hop dance had to offer. hip-hop also helped her cope with experiences in the past because it helped her open up a little more. When she started dancing, she became a more outgoing person.
Hip-hop is a tough style of dance in that it can be used to expose so many emotions. Whether it is love, hate, anger and happiness, Pena enjoys expressing them all.
She also loves how people feel so free when they dance since there is no set form of hip-hop. She remembers how her family didn’t see hip-hop dancing as a necessity and did not financially support her and her sister with dance classes.
She and her sister made a lemonade stand and sold lemonade so that they could raise money to attend dance classes.
She first started taking classes for hip-hop in after school programs when she was in the first grade.
Some of the main obstacles that Briana faced in the beginning of her journey as dancer was that she wasn’t very good at floor work and stunts, since they required formal training.
However, when she joined University Dance Company, they pushed her enough to show that she can do it if she puts her mind to it.
Pena learned that although confidence is hard to maintain, you have to be able to put yourself out there, saying, “Let dance be your feeling of expression and let your movement and your story reach out and touch the hearts of people.”
Before every performance, she prays. When she hears the audience cheer, she knows they have enjoyed her performance which increases her confidence level.
“I am the kind of person that likes to prove myself wrong,” said Pena.
In elementary school, she competed in country fairs, festivals and local competitions. She also competed in high school competitions where she was the president and choreographer of the dance team.
If she becomes professional, she explained she would improve and expand her dancing in other genres, so that she wouldn’t just be professional in hip-hop and can incorporate other moves into hip-hop.
However, she gets intimidated easily when she thinks about becoming professional sometimes.
When she faces obstacles in her dancing, she encourages herself by watching other dancers or performers on YouTube. That inspires her and helps her realize that she can do it too.
“Not everyone has the same style, people have their own style,” said Pena. “Doesn’t matter what people say about you, what you look like, or what you have experienced. Dance is for everyone.”