Humans of Harker: Reaching out on relevé

Riya Singh spreads love of dance through her community

%E2%80%9CI+tried+to+leverage+dance+as+a+way+to+engage+my+community.+I+hope+by+explaining+the+benefits+of+dance+in+a+scientific+way+I+can+make+people+more+engaged%2C+maybe+try+it+out%E2%80%A6by+really+showing+its+benefits%2C%22+Riya+Singh+%2812%29+said.
Back to Article
Back to Article

Humans of Harker: Reaching out on relevé

“I tried to leverage dance as a way to engage my community. I hope by explaining the benefits of dance in a scientific way I can make people more engaged, maybe try it out…by really showing its benefits,

“I tried to leverage dance as a way to engage my community. I hope by explaining the benefits of dance in a scientific way I can make people more engaged, maybe try it out…by really showing its benefits," Riya Singh (12) said.

Nicole Tian

“I tried to leverage dance as a way to engage my community. I hope by explaining the benefits of dance in a scientific way I can make people more engaged, maybe try it out…by really showing its benefits," Riya Singh (12) said.

Nicole Tian

Nicole Tian

“I tried to leverage dance as a way to engage my community. I hope by explaining the benefits of dance in a scientific way I can make people more engaged, maybe try it out…by really showing its benefits," Riya Singh (12) said.

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Strolling into Manzanita on a Friday afternoon, Riya Singh’s (12) understanding smile envelops her figure in a quiet dignity. Slinging down her backpack and an extra pair of tennis shoes, she nods thoughtfully at each question, and her calm exterior belies her enthusiastic personality. Her smile widens upon reaching a new point of interest, and she gestures with her hands to go along with the storytelling.

Since Riya dedicates her time to dancing, research projects and volunteering, this wide range of activities may be confusing to understand at first glance. Even though her fields of interest span from performing arts to science, she finds an underlying theme among them. As her amiable appearance suggests, Riya strives to empower others while exploring different occupations for herself, whether it be spending Friday evenings video calling a professor about applying combinatorics to square dances or practicing for hours after school.

“I guess I just try to put myself in more unfamiliar territory. I try to be more of an explorer. I like having a challenge to work towards. Trying to push myself to do something I’m not very familiar with [is] just something I’ve always done,” Riya said.

Her willingness to reach out is expressed through both dancing and writing. Recently, Riya has started working as a teacher’s assistant at a local dance studio, which allowed her to create some dances for the class.

“My favorite part would be choreographing,” Riya said. “There I get to channel my creativity and create dances for a class…There’s a teacher, and sometimes she’ll let me choreograph a dance for them; it’s really fun to do.”

Close friend Liza Egorova (12), who met her on the tennis team in freshman year, describes the way Riya uses available platforms to spread her love of dance.

“I know she has a Youtube channel where she posts some of her dances. It’s really cool. She puts herself out there and I admire that,” Liza said.

This has led her to pursue a research project covering both math and performing. Starting in February, Riya has worked with her mentor to solve a problem involving a square dance with five couples. The next step is to submit the project to a mathematical journal.

“It was difficult from start to finish. I would say many people in her position without her talent would have struggled with each part, with extending the work to solving a harder problem and writing a solution to the harder problem,” said mentor Vadim Ponomarenko, a professor of mathematics at San Diego State University.

Drawing from her experiences in dance, Riya started a column for her local newspaper in Campbell. Her column, “Let Science Dance,” views dancing from a nutritional point of view. After writing her first article, “The Diet of a Dancer,” Riya decided that she wanted to write for a larger audience rather than targeting dancers.

“I tried to leverage dance as a way to engage my community,” Riya said. “I hope by explaining the benefits of dance in a scientific way I can make people more engaged, maybe try it out…by really showing its benefits.”

Not only does she find reward in reaching out to large audiences, but she also strives to build connections with strangers through meaningful dialogue. One example was at Kaiser Permanente, when she struck up a conversation with a patient who turned out to be a former chief of surgery.

“It’s nice that starting up a conversation can lead to something positive too,” Riya said. “Not just for me but for the other person.”
By communicating with others through all the platforms available, Riya hopes to not only continue expanding on her interests wherever she goes but also create new fields of exploration for others through applying her acquired skills. One of the ways she plans to do this is to bring partner dances to her future college.
“I haven’t found the best way to engage people yet, but that’s something I really want to do, to contribute to the community, to people,” Riya said. “I feel like I’m doing good by sharing my knowledge and also learning at the same time. It’s my ideal goal.”