Student vision: bring De Anza dancers together

Spotlights flare and weave across the auditorium, illuminating a troop of dancers staggered side-by-side on stage. Their faces look intensely focused, passionate and their movements, synchronized. Dancing among them is a student who has been there since the inception of this dance collective almost four years ago.

Arthur Arboleda, 23, an english major at De Anza, spends his afternoons on campus as a senior officer of Generosity.Respect.And.Nurturing.Dancers, or G.R.A.N.D. for short. Arboleda started his dancing portfolio at De Anza back in 2014 when he only meant to be a helping hand for a dance performance conducted by PUSO (Pilipino Unity Student Organization), the Filipino club on campus, to gather some attention on club day that year.

“So in the summer of 2014, I was looking for a club, and PUSO approached me and asked me if I wanted to be secretary,” said Arboleda. “I was like ‘Wow, OK, sure!’ Come club day, they wanted to put on a performance so they asked me to put something together because they noticed I could dance.”

Concerned with the state of the dance department at De Anza, Arboleda took it upon himself to help organize ongoing dance workshops, encouraging students to learn beyond the classroom and build closer relationships to each other, rather than just be classmates. With this initiative in mind, Arboleda eventually formed a club from within these workshops – a club with the intention to help struggling dancers flourish into fully-fledged dancers.

“A year after stepping down as secretary for PUSO, I was approached by another club who asked me to dance with them, which was led by a dancer we trained before, Victor Lim. I got pretty involved with that and we ended up performing at the quarterly dance demonstration a few times. But the club was disbanded shortly after it was established. Me and a friend of mine still wanted to teach and perform so we were like, ‘why don’t we just make our own club?’.” Arboleda said.

Arboleda referred to a time when the dance community at De Anza wasn’t so organized and motivated to perform like they are now. In his words, they were “not involved with each other.” He went on further to explain how the student-run workshops came to be.

“You had two dance clubs at De Anza, K-Pop and 4Elements, but you also had all these other dance classes, Hip-Hop 1, Hip-Hop 2, Jazz, Contemporary, Body Awareness, Ballet. Seeing that everyone goes to class but they don’t really interact with each other, or try and collaborate, it was just like, everyone was there but they just needed to be put in one room, you know? I think that’s what kicked off workshop, because there’s no genre tied to it, it was just a bunch of students getting together and learning styles each other”

Arboleda has received his A.A in English and is currently in the works of pursuing his second degree from De Anza, in dance. The foundation of his passion began during his freshman days at Silver Creek High School in San Jose. There he actively participated in the dance program, shaping what he believed was his future craft, the urban dance form.

“Urban dance is combination of dance styles, but it takes most of its influence from hip-hop. It includes elements from contemporary, ballet, and even tap, but there is no set boundary for urban, it’s a large grey area.” said Arboleda.

Arboleda claims a lot of inspiration with forming a dance club at De Anza stems from his experience at Silver Creek. Fondly recalling how tightly knit and motivated everyone was around him in high school, he sought out to establish a similar vibe in college.

“Looking at the dance community at De Anza, and then remembering what I had at Silver Creek, I was thinking, we can totally turn it to something like that where it’s a loving community that inspires each other to grow. It was all there at De Anza, the students were there, the resources were there, we just needed to pull everything together.”

G.R.A.N.D is performing for the quarterly dance showcase on March 16 and 17, and all students who are interested in dance are encouraged by Abodela and the officers at G.R.A.N.D.  to come and watch.



Photo by Kevin Coleto
Arboleda stares down the crowd while dancing in the piece “Spice Girl” during a Dance workshop at De Anza College.