Striding across the floor and leaping into the air in the splits, Kelly Yang ’24 shone under bright lights as Blue Strut performed “Womanizer” by Britney Spears at last year’s Grasshopper show. As a Co-Head of Blue Strut, a jazz group, and a member of Hypnotiq, a hip-hop group, Kelly Yang ’24 performs in various genres of dance at Andover. According to Yang, she found a supportive community in Blue Strut that helped her become more confident.
“I started dancing around five [or] six in ballet, but I think my passion for it was ignited when my mom put me in traditional Chinese dancing around seven [or] eight with my friends… it would be so fun…. Personally, I enjoy traditional Chinese dancing, jazz, hip-hop, and modern… those things are a little less technical… I really like the more energetic, the more emotional types of dances,” said Yang.
Having danced in Blue Strut since Lower year, Yang is now Co-Head of the group, along with Myranda Lu ’23. Yang said that though there are challenges that come with the responsibility, she finds joy in being an inspiration for her teammates.
“It’s really difficult to be constantly creative and come up with choreography for a group when you can’t see it… oftentimes the choreography can take hours for just one minute [of the performance], it’s just a lot to handle, especially because I never choreographed before…[but] it’s fun being able to help people and see everything come together as you envisioned it,” said Yang.
Blue Strut Dancer Mia Pao ’24 expressed her admiration for Yang as a performer and a co-head. She explained how Yang brings energy and spirit to every rehearsal and as she choreographs dances with her own personal style.
“I would describe Kelly as a fiery, technical, and captivating performer. She has a personal style to her movement that just screams, ‘look at me.’ I love watching her dance, and she has the most gorgeous jumps!” said Pao.
Yang added that Blue Strut has provided her a close community on campus. She reflected on the many memories she made with her teammates last year and expresses her close attachment with each and every member.
“My favorite memory with [Strut] is probably Club Show in Spring term. It was our last performance as Strut that year and it was the best. The backstage energy was so entertaining and in between performances, we all went out to the den and got cookies,” said Yang.
According to Yang, her attention to the details, specifically facial expressions and hands, are critical aspects of dancing that contribute to her stage presence. She also added that her dance style reflects her personality.
“I focus a lot on the smaller things… especially in Chinese dancing, you express your emotions through your hands, so I kind of implemented that in my other dances… which I think expresses who I am, too… I know I’m not the most technical [dancer, but] I have a pretty good stage presence. Even with a mask [during the pandemic], I think I did a pretty good job with facials,” said Yang.
One reason Yang finds such joy in dance stems from the confidence she feels when interacting with her audience. Through her Blue Strut performances, Yang expressed that she hopes to convey the same feeling of confidence through her dance.
“I used to not be the most secure in myself, and as I got better with dance, hearing the audience’s reactions during a performance gave me a big confidence boost… when it comes to performing for Blue Strut… I am trying to convey confidence and sass. I really want [my audience] to feel like their time was used valuably watching me dance,” said Yang.
As Yang continues to lead, she hopes to continue fostering a safe and comfortable environment for her team members.
“I think a good leader is someone who is able to take control, but at the same time be a friend who is willing to support their members… I don’t want anyone to feel left out or feel they’re not welcome here,” said Yang.
Blue Strut and Hypnotiq will both perform at Grasshopper during Family Weekend.