Humans of Harker: Leaps and laughs

Kristin Tong uses dance and choreography to express her creativity

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Sally Zhu

“[Dance is] a better way to present yourself because you’re not really using your voice. You’re using yourself and your movement in connection with the music, and you’re moving to that and vibing … Dance is showing a different side of yourself, a more artistic side, so it’s a more satisfying way to express myself,” Kristin Tong (12) said. 

Her left wrist grips onto her right leg, which extends far above her head, almost completely perpendicular to the floor. She leans slightly backwards to steady her balance and pops into relevée on her left foot, the whole of her body depending on the few toes still on the ground. Her right arm floats gently behind her, and her Harker Dance Company (HDC) jacket ruffles in the wind.  

Kristin Tong (12) has been dancing for more than half of her life. Though she initially despised dancing, her participation in the lower school dance show in the first grade eventually made dance a major part of her life. Kristin has continued with dance as a way to express herself creatively, even joining dance studios and more before high school. 

“[Dance is] a better way to present yourself because you’re not really using your voice. You’re using yourself and your movement in connection with the music, and you’re moving to that and vibing … Dance is showing a different side of yourself, a more artistic side, so it’s a more satisfying way to express myself,” Kristin said. 

At Harker, Kristin has been part of the dance teams for six years now: in Dance Fusion, Showstoppers and, now, HDC. She has also taken choreography classes, learning more about the history of dance and ways to pair movements with music and emotion. Kristin was one of the first juniors to solo choreograph a dance for last year’s upper school dance show, and she is choreographing a dance her senior year as well. 

Kristin uses her choreography to express her values, picking music with themes of perseverance and happiness. She also uses dance as an energy and stress outlet from her academic life. Even though choreography can be difficult, she always enjoys the process and the end result after the dance production. 

“Since I’m a student choreographer too, looking back and seeing how much progress you’ve done and how much work you’ve put into a specific piece is very satisfying, especially at the end. When everything comes together with the costumes, the lighting and the music, it’s very satisfying,” Kristin said. “It was a very difficult process, but at the end, it was all worth it.”

As a part of HDC, Kristin appreciates the sense of community and the friendships she has formed with other members of the team, and she has met many students of different grade levels as a result. From potluck dinners before performances to a group trip to Great America’s Haunt, Kristin has made many new memories with her dance team, which she values. 

“I like how there’s more of a sense of community in and outside of the dance room. I was really close with some of the other people on the team and it’s a good way for anyone to get acquainted with Harker spirit and some of the other grade levels … team bonding plays a significant role,” Kristin said. 

Kristin likes to put enthusiasm into all of the activities she participates in, from dance and choreography to her school classes and friendships. In school, she especially enjoys her science classes, as she likes the real life applications and connections she can make. Furthermore, Kristin has taken Japanese classes for many years, and upper school Japanese teacher Yumiko Aridomi has noticed her enthusiasm for learning. 

“[Kristin is] very cheerful, energetic, and she’s been loved when she was in my class. She was loved by everyone. She brought joy to the class … She tried to put as much energy as she could for academics too, in my class. She enjoyed things and tried to do any activities with enthusiasm,” Aridomi said. 

Her friends also appreciate the positivity and humor that Kristin brings to situations. She always tries to help out whenever her friends need help and tries to give positive advice as much as possible. Close friend and dance teammate Karina Chen (12) can depend on her to always be optimistic. 

“She’s a very fun person to be around. She’s really bubbly, friendly, and she’s always really easy to talk to. I feel like she can light up any room with her personality,” Karina said. 

When Kristin hangs out with her friend group, she always makes great conversation and brings lots of joy and laughter to the group, and close friend since freshman year Jason Hoang (12) admires this trait of Kristin’s. 

“[There’s] a lot of laughing, a lot of jokes, and it’s really light conversation, and she’s really fun to talk to and be around, and everything we do as a friend group is better when she’s there,” Jason said. 

Kristin likes to associate herself with positive people like her, and she tries to spread positivity and cheerful energy to any situation that she’s in. She also enjoys capturing her happiest moments that she’s shared with her friends and family so she can look back and reminisce about those times. 

“I like to associate myself with positive people or people who love to make memories … Everyone is the most happy when everybody else is being positive, because if one person is not in that same mindset, it brings everyone else down,” Kristin said. 

Another one of Kristin’s values aside from emanating kindness is self-confidence and not being too affected by the judgement from others. She has used this advice in some of her dance choreography and tries to always hold this true in her life. 

“[My motto is] giving off positive vibes and not really caring about what other people think about you. I think you’re more well off doing your own thing, and not taking what other people say into consideration too much,” Kristin said. “[People may judge] you for your choices, but if you know that [your choices] are right and you want to make them, then you should just go for it.”