Ceci wows the world through dance

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Used with permission of Ceci Sun and Lynbrook ASB

Most people see Sun in the front taking charge during Homecoming girls’ dance practices or Winter Rally performances.

Jasmine Rihal

Music flowing through the surround sound speakers of the dance studio, the low beats of the bass and the melodious tones of the song surround senior Ceci Sun as she expressively and passionately performs a combination. Emotions emanate from the graceful and powerful movement of her limbs. 

Most people see Sun in the front taking charge during Homecoming girls’ dance practices or Winter Rally performances. However, Sun’s involvement extends beyond just school dance: She choreographs numerous award-winning pieces for herself, dance companies and other dance teams. She also combines songs and edits her own music, which she uses in all of her pieces.

Sun first started dancing at Jun Lu Performing Arts when she was 5 years old, taking traditional Chinese dance classes taught by her mother. She fell in love with dance as she felt it was a way for her to express herself artistically, physically and emotionally.  After dancing for a few years at Jun Lu Performing Arts, she moved to Dance Academy USA to seek more competition opportunities that could further her career in dance. 

“I don’t love one studio more than the other,” Sun said. “I think it was just a step of growing out, growing up, maturing in dancing, so I picked a more competitive team to continue my journey.”

Her passion for dance grew because of the way it brought out her humanity, placing her in a vulnerable position and enabling her to express who she truly is without words. Through dance, she found where she could fully be herself and share it with others. 

Sun’s heartfelt passion for dance has kept her going, but so has the support and encouragement from those around her. Along the way, mentors and teachers pushed her to improve her dance skills and discover who she was as a dancer. Her main inspiration is her mother, who has supported and shaped her into the dancer she is today. This year, Sun is choreographing a solo in honor of her mother and grandmother to thank them for all that they have done for her in her dancing journey and life.

“A lot of people helped me, but I wouldn’t say I had one specific mentor,” Sun said. “I kind of went through the journey myself, but there are a lot of teachers that are forever my role models.” 

Her inspiration for her dance style stems from both her traditional Chinese dance background and the dance styles of her mentors. Sun incorporates what she learned from the studio as well as her personal style into her choreography. 

When creating the music for her pieces, she mixes multiple songs and edits them herself through Garageband to produce an original track. If she hears a song that she likes, she finds ways to incorporate it into the track among the parts of other songs. 

She uses a combination of styles for routines that she choreographs for rallies, Homecoming and other pieces for contracts that she signs to choreograph for different companies. While Homecoming dances are choreographed freely and spontaneously, the choreography she does for her contracts is designed for the company’s specific needs.

For events such as Homecoming, she first evaluates the skills of people she’s working with, recognizing their strengths and considering how she can incorporate their multiple styles of dance to create the most influential performance. In all of her pieces that she choreographs, she rarely just adheres to one style of dance. 

“As an artist and choreographer there’s no limitations or restrictions to my work,” Sun said. “I have complete freedom to bundle together my ideas and create pieces in that way.” 

Beside being a talented dancer at Dance Academy USA, Sun has accomplished more. She is a part of Hollywood Vibe’s Senior Company, has won highest scoring soloist in many competitions and conventions and has been Top Ten Dancer of the year twice at nationals. Every accolade requires hours of dedication to her craft.  

Throughout Sun’s dancing career, she has learned many lessons such as finding motivation, and to be present in the moment while dancing. Although the dancing industry and community can be harsh at times, she reminds herself that dance is something that she loves to do and will work through the pain to pursue. 

“At the end of the day, I just keep reminding myself that I love dance, and I’m very grateful and lucky to be pursuing something that I truly love,” Sun said. 

For other dancers who also aspire to have a future in dance, whether it be dancing professionally or as a hobby, Sun’s advice is to be unafraid of releasing their potential. Finding their place in dance and continuing to express themselves through it will help them thrive in whatever path they choose. Instead of worrying about their weaknesses, Sun encourages dancers to live in the moment, to focus on themselves and to worry less about what others think or say. 

Senior Suanna Zhong has been a close friend to Sun since their freshman year of high school. They bonded quickly over their shared artistry in different disciplines, dance and art. 

“Ceci uses dance more as a medium to reconcile with past experiences, whether it’s family, stress, friends or school related,” Zhong said. “Her work has grown more by making pieces about herself and personal fulfillment rather than just being a technically good dancer.” 

Zhong admires Sun’s ability to quickly adapt to challenges and devise solutions on the spot. Along with that, Sun is approachable and understands people and their personalities quickly. An example is during Homecoming, when she has to coordinate with numerous girls with a wide range of dancing experiences to develop formations and moves. 

“She’s very friendly and has really good emotional intelligence, and she can understand people pretty well,” Zhong said. “And that translates into her work as well because she’s a very good teacher when teaching dance to people at any level.”

Sun wishes to continue to shape her dancing career throughout college. Even though Bay Area culture has fostered the belief that dance is not a reliable profession, Sun believes that people can be successful in pursuing an unconventional career.

“Don’t be discouraged by your community,” Sun said. “If you love to dance, you love to dance — don’t worry about what the future holds, don’t worry about making money or college. Everything will be fine.”

Even though Sun is already an accomplished dancer, there is still so much more that she wants to do.

“Dancing didn’t really change me — it’s a part of me that I grew up with and it’s just ingrained in my life,” Sun said. “It’s natural — dancing is a part of me.”