A Love Letter to MIT’s Asian Dance Team

One of the best decisions I ever made at MIT was deciding to join ADT.

I’m not much of a dancer. I’m not very athletic – I prefer lying in bed over moving. I’m not very musical either – when I was younger and I sang along to songs in the car, my dad would make fun of me because I can’t sing. I danced ballet as a kid, for around five years, but I quit to pursue more art classes because I liked it better and I was actually good at drawing.

So I don’t know what exactly it was that compelled me to join ADT – maybe I wanted to try something new, and ADT was the only dance group on campus that didn’t require me to actually be good to get in. You still have to audition, of course, but everyone who auditions is let into the group, which takes off a lot of pressure to perform “well” at auditions when you’re scared and you don’t really know anyone.

Regardless of why I joined, I ended up dragging one of my friends at the time to auditions sophomore spring. I was too chicken to do it on my own, although it probably would’ve been fine – there were quite a few people that I knew at ADT auditions already because I had met them in previous classes or in the Freshman Pre-Orientation Program that I was part of when I was still a baby freshman.

I was put in two traditional ethnic dances that first semester, a Xinjiang dance and a Dai dance. The Xinjiang dance brought back a lot of memories from grade school, when I learned about Xinjiang and learned how to do the Xinjiang head move for fun (if you don’t know what this is, you basically move your head from side to side without moving the rest of your body).

I fell in love with ADT this semester. I had a massive crush on my Xinjiang dance choreographer, Jocelyn, who’s an amazing dancer and also adorable and also intimidating and also ridiculously beautiful. I remember wanting her to like me so I’d practice the dance in my dorm (and consequently, didn’t really practice the Dai dance at all – although, to be fair, the Xinjiang dance was the more difficult of the two).

I also remember fooling around with my friend and scraping my knee a couple weeks before the showcase. One of the moves in the Xinjiang dance involved me dropping to my knees and doing a backbend fairly instantaneously, and so I reopened my knee wound every practice and during the showcase. I managed to not bleed on the costume, thanks to many, many band-aids.

I still have the scar. I kind of enjoy being able to say that I quite literally bled for my dance group.

I have now been part of ADT for five semesters and I am about to perform my last two showcases of my MIT career. I had five hours of dance yesterday, and many hours the day before and the day before that. I have seven hours of dance ahead of me. And I am just as in love, if not more in love, with ADT as I was that first semester.

Over the past five semesters I have developed more crushes on more of my choreographers – Angela, Alice, Lucy, Jackie, just to name a few. They’re all adorable and kind – in the case of Alice, maybe even too kind (she could probably learn to yell at us once in a while). I have been part of fifteen dances. I have spent more than 200 hours of my MIT career learning choreography. I have learned how to count music – finally. I have danced at external performances. I still don’t think I’m a good dancer, but I enjoy it more than I ever have before.

The people in ADT are amazing. I’ve become friends with people in majors I would’ve never met otherwise, and who are all excited to dance together. I have crushed on almost all of my friends. They’ve been there to support me when I was at my lowest points. I had never been a person who was so unmotivated I could not get out of bed, but it happened during my time at MIT, and there were many days when I got out of bed because I knew I had to – and wanted to – show up to my ADT rehearsals later that day. I have been offered hugs whenever I needed it most, and kind words, and support, and unconditional love.

So, thank you for being there. Thank you for being my support and my pillar when I needed it, and giving me a place to escape to. Thank you for giving me a space where I could forget about my worries, whether it was studio before or job searching and anxiety now, and letting me concentrate on something else. Thank you for pushing me to learn to move my body in new ways, even though I still like to bring up that one time the lights people forgot to turn off the lights so I had to stay in a backbend for longer than anyone would ever like.

I wouldn’t consider anything I’ve done in ADT to be particularly physically rigorous, but there’s something really interesting about learning dance. You have to retain choreography and continuously build on it, and you have to have enough of a “work ethic” (so to speak) to continue with it even when it gets harder than you expected it to be. There are days where you’re so tired, where you haven’t slept, where you don’t want to move, but you have to push yourself to persist and continue to learn and continue to dance because it’s a commitment that you’ve made to your fellow dancers, and more importantly, to yourself.

Tonight I will be performing my last two showcases ever. Looking back at my four years here, I have considered many things that I might change – choices that I would have made differently if I could do MIT again. I have re-evaluated nearly every decision that I made and wondered if I did the right thing.

ADT is one of those decisions that I am 100% sure I made completely correctly.

If I could do again, I would have still dragged along my friend to ADT auditions that sophomore spring.

PC: Joseph Lee
The first ADT show that I was in, my sophomore spring; this was the dance that
Jocelyn (my first ever ADT crush) choreographed!
PC: Landon Carter
This was one of Alice’s dances, and was also the dance where they forgot to turn off the lights after we hit our end pose.
I was doing that backbend for a very long time. It hurt.
PC: Olivia Chong
In which Tina, one of my favorite ADT people, and I had to look sad. One of our friends was sitting right
in front of us and Tina cracked up mid-dance. I have yet to let her live it down.
PC: Landon Carter
This was the first sleeves dance that I was in, after I had gathered enough courage to try it out. Sleeves had always
intimidated me. This is also the pinkest costume I have ever had to wear. 
PC: John Chow
Here’s a sneak peak (kind of) of our show tonight! I’m very excited to be dancing with some of my favorite people,
although I’m sad that it is likely our last time dancing together. Come see our show!

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