Dancing Together

Duke University seeks a talented, engaged student body that embodies the wide range of human experience; we believe that the diversity of our students makes our community stronger. If you'd like to share a perspective you bring or experiences you've had to help us understand you better-perhaps related to a community you belong to, your sexual orientation or gender identity, or your family or cultural background-we encourage you to do so. Real people are reading your application, and we want to do our best to understand and appreciate the real people applying to Duke. (250 word limit)


I scrambled to allow the giggling seven year old girl to climb onto my back. I was volunteering as a camp counselor at the Hand in Hand Chinese Cultural Summer Program, a program that introduces adopted Chinese children to Chinese culture. As the dance instructor, I was both excited to share the art form and, frankly, nervous about the response.

The first day, I finished teaching the dance, but saw that the children all seemed to be apathetic. I racked my brain for ways to make them share my enthusiasm for dance, and the next day, I tried a new approach: we choreographed a dance together. Though some were reluctant, I encouraged each to create a move that captured their personality, and then transformed it into a movement from Chinese Folk Dance. I gradually saw them develop an interest, and soon, they asked for more moves. Delighted, I showed them new gestures as they happily waved their fans behind me.

During the final recital, the children eagerly performed for their parents. Afterwards, many parents thanked me for choreographing the dance, but I explained that we choreographed the dance together. It wasn’t perfect, but that didn’t matter. Art is not about perfection - art is about...

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