The Dirt with Karen Chuang

You know that myth that dancers who go to college are wasting precious performance time? Karen Chuang proves otherwise. The Northern California native trained with Sonya Tayeh in San Francisco before heading to University of California, Los Angeles, in 2008—the same year she traveled with The PULSE on Tour as an assistant and demonstrator. Before graduating from UCLA with a degree in business economics in 2012, Chuang appeared on “Glee” and danced in Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair” video as well as performing live with her. Today, Chuang teaches frequently at the Edge Performing Arts Center in L.A., and you can see her in Lady Gaga’s artRave: The ARTPOP Ball world tour through the end of the month. Want to know more about this professional smarty-pants? Read on for The Dirt.

(photo by Jino Abad, courtesy Karen Chuang)

What did you want to be when you were younger?

Taller! Just kidding. I wanted to be a lot of things: an author, a chef, a teacher—and even a senator at one point.

What don’t people know about you?

I'm fluent in Mandarin and Taiwanese. In fact, there are some things I think of only in Mandarin. For example, I rarely call my brother by his English name, Vincent. Instead, I refer to him as "哥哥" (ge ge) which is Chinese for older brother.

What are your pet peeves?

When socks slip under my heels and watching people take selfies.

Dance-wise, do you have any bad habits?

I've caught myself lip-synching a few times. It usually happens when I'm super zoned-in on performing.

What’s the strangest thing in your dance bag?

A strong collection of empty San Pellegrino bottles. I've got an insatiable thirst for bubbly water!

What’s the best part of being on tour?

The new sights, sounds, smells and tastes that I get to experience. I keep a blog and a journal to help me remember my travels, and I like looking back and reflecting on each city. (Follow Karen Chuang's journey on tour at karenchuang.blogspot.com!)

What’s your biggest piece of advice for DS readers?

Always strive to be your best, and don't ever feel like your place in a performance is unnoticed or unimportant.

 

**Correction: This article originally stated that Karen Chuang performed on Justin Bieber's My World Tour. Chuang danced with Willow Smith, who opened for Bieber on his tour.

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