Take chances, dance more dances

Salma Ubwa, Bottara Khan Nabaie, (LtoR) Salma and Bottara dancing at Club Rush at Pierce College in Woodland Hills Calif. on Feb 28, 2018. Photo by Erick Salgado


Nine students pay close attention to dance instructor Jenny Ghiglia as she demonstrates the carefully constructed choreography that they will soon practice.

The students are part of the Pierce College Dance Crew (PCDC) and they meet every Sunday and Tuesday evening in the North Gym.

Ghiglia, adjunct dance instructor and advisor of PCDC, said she created the crew two years ago in 2016 after she realized Pierce was missing a hip-hop dance team.

“I was walking through campus one day and I realized there was a lot of hip-hop students, especially by the library. It was then that I told myself, ‘I’m going to start a hip-hop crew,’” Ghiglia said.

Ghiglia said that she was also inspired by the techniques she developed with her daughter.

“She came to Pierce and was a part of the Pierce College dance program as well, so I learned a lot from her. We would often choreograph modern hip-hop fuse dances together,” Ghiglia said

Ghiglia said the PCDC represents the diversity of Pierce College students, while giving them a positive environment to share their love and passion for dance.

“Your typical PCDC practice is a creative outlet. It’s a non-judgmental place for students to express themselves,” Ghiglia said.

Our primary focus is hip-hop, Ghiglia said the class focuses on jazz, contemporary and salsa as well.

“We always try to add an artistic element to our dances. They always have some sort of theme because it’s not just hip-hop,” Ghiglia said.

Tory Fernandez, a freshman at Pierce, said she enjoys being a part of the dance crew because it’s fun and energetic.

“Being a part of PCDC is a great way to get away from homework or school and just dance and do something I love,” Fernandez said.

Fernandez came to California from Hawaii a year and half ago because her parents wanted her to provide her with more opportunities in dance. She said that when she enrolled in Pierce and realized there was a dance crew, she joined right away.

Fernandez said the dance crew helped her improve her techniques during the two semesters as a member.

“I’ve always struggled with techniques or making sure I’m always hitting the right note. Since I started, PCDC has allowed me to feel more comfortable with myself while learning new routines,” Fernandez said.

Bryson Wesley, the president of PCDC, has been a part of the dance crew for the past two years, and said everyone in the crew is always willing to help.

“It’s a fun, relaxing experience mainly because, here at PCDC, the crew doesn’t just use one person for the choreography but rather, it’s a group effort,” Wesley said.

Wesley said PCDC offers students different genres of music to express themselves.

“Students like to come to PCDC because of all the types of styles it has to offer. We all have the freedom to be ourselves and do what we please,” Wesley said

Wesley said being a part of PCDC is a positive experience. He said that when he walks into a PCDC meeting, he has a group of people that will have his back no matter what.

“PCDC is a place of safety for many of us. We are not judged. We are valued and we are acknowledged as dancers and individuals,” Wesley said.

Wesley said dancers are challenged to express themselves more than others.

“It’s different to express yourself as a normal person rather than a dancer, but with PCDC it’s different,” Wesley said. “Dancers have to express themselves a lot more. We come through different places. We pour our emotions and leave it on the floor.”

Ghiglia said that some of her most memorable moments in PCDC was seeing how her students become one, under the rhythm of music, despite coming from diverse backgrounds.

“Most of these students are street dancers. Some are professional dancers and others have little to no experience. But when they come together, it’s beautiful to see because they feed off each other,” Ghiglia said. “There are these ‘aha moments’ I have when I see them perform. I get to see their energy and the sparks between each dancer on stage.”

Ghiglia said that her Pierce students carry their dance crew with pride.

“The students know that it’s about them, their journey and how they represent PCDC. The fact that they understand my passion about PCDC is a wonderful thing,” Ghiglia said.

This spring semester, PCDC will host events like Dance Day on May 20, in which students can learn four styles of dance taught by professional dancers and choreographers.

Ghiglia said contemporary will be taught by Luis Trujillo, jazz by Brian Moe, salsa by Jose Valencia and though the choreographer for hip-hop is tentative, she wants it to be taught by a woman.