A double cork 1620! Wow! 94.5 points, No. 1! That's how Gu Ailing grabbed the historic gold medal at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Skiing is my passion, Gu says. Her secrets to success are passion, focus and balance. Only when you do the things you have a passion for can you put all your heart into what you're doing.

So true! Only passion will lead us through life. Here at SCNU, we also have students going for what they love and living their lives to the fullest. Our protagonists are two student dance lovers from the school's student organization Phoenix Crew. They have both served as heads of the organization. What's different is that, Li Yinglin, of the School of Music is the current one, while Yu Ao Jiawei, of the School of Physics and Telecommunication Engineering is the former.


Yu Ao Jiawei(far left), Li Yinglin(far right) and four members of Phoenix Crew

Because of love

Li Yinglin was first introduced to K-pop dance in primary school and she was so intrigued that she started learning to dance by herself. In junior high school, not contented with self-learning, she decided to go to a dance studio to learn dancing. She was highly motivated. It was during this time she switched from jazz to hip-hop after being inspired by her teacher's dance with hip-hop elements.

After classes, Li always practices her moves. If the moves she has learnt can be used smoothly in her freestyle, they are considered to be mastered. Once mastering those moves, she will get the energy to practice them again and again. With more practice, she can acquire more moves and then try out in competitions. She takes it for granted that the point of practice is to go on the path a dancer must take.

Developing the idea of going into choreography, making a move, having her own work, polishing, improving, getting recognition and becoming a dancer, she was determined to persist in practicing. Choreography set her apart from others: her love for street dance was not dancing to follow a trend, nor was stuck in the enjoyment of getting a level of praise from others.

As she keeps talking, the frequency with which she mentions the word "dancer" increases. "The love as a dancer." That's how she describes herself. In her opinion, that's what it takes to love something truly.

"I think street dance is about creativity, about following your heart, and being yourself." "Street dance comes from life, and street dance is a product of life." This is her interpretation of street dance. Her curiosity about unfamiliar things led to her hobby, and her "love" took her on a journey. Thus, as she continued to learn more about street dance in depth, she came to love it.


Unlike Li, Yu Ao was not actually introduced to street dance until high school. He was exposed to street dance by chance, but he has been driven by his personality to do his best in this area of dance. "I didn't like dancing at first; I just liked to watch." In high school, owing to a chance encounter, Yu Ao joined the school's street dance club. The unfamiliarity of the thing gave him a challenge. Because of his persistence, he wanted to dance well, "so I danced to become number one at my age in Shenzhen before I entered university."

Yu Ao admits that he himself is an active thinker. He likes logical abstraction. He has enjoyed thinking about many things since he was a child, and he hopes that his energy can influence more people. He has taken a personality test and the results show that he is an introvert. He interprets this result as: looking inwards and enjoy thinking.

"What I love is incorporated into me, and I have found a balance." Yu Ao has been thinking how to better convey his story by applying some instruments and adjustment to his dancing. Dance on its own could not realize his ideas. Therefore, he likes to bring some certain auxiliary implements to make his work better.


Pain and Gain

Li Yinglin's attitude towards street dance is very simple. She believes that she can be satisfied easily as long as it stays with her. For her, what she has gained from street dance is a life that has been enriched.

During the pandemic, the reduction of socializing and the restriction of going out was a regular occurrence. The days at home were spent with street dance. What was once a dull and boring life took on a different appearance thanks to street dance. Some academic stress caused by limitations of taking online courses sometimes wears her out, but luckily with street dance, perspiration in her dance leads to inspiration and sets off stress.

Also, of the amount of time spent on street dance practice, enabled her step out of the confines of the experience taught by her teachers, and to form her own understanding of the dance movements through her own refinement.

Street dance is like a spice in her life. When she is down, it adds sugar to her life; when she is satisfied, she hopes that the happiness that street dance brings to her can also be evenly distributed so that those around her can experience the same feeling.

Real Kungfu (original dance by Li Yinglin and her group)

For Yu Ao, the rewards of street dance are more like a serendipity. By posting his dance videos, as a way of self-expression for him, on his own media platform, he consciously show himself to the outside world with the record of his choreographic ideas and moments of dance.

"Everyone will have their own interpretation of dance. I encourage others to have discussions with me in our circle of friends. When others see me dancing in videos, this will lead to discussions and exchange of ideas. In the process, not only will others find that I am a person with my own ideas, but I will also gain new perspectives myself."

Through street dance as a means of expressing himself, Yu Ao has thus met many friends, including his partner in his current venture. From working with him, Yu Ao has found new inspiration in exploring the path of entrepreneurship. "I want to create value for the community, for more people and for the art industry. On a personal level, I also get a strong sense of access and create greater economic value."

Original dance by Yu Ao Jiawei

Hobby or Career?

Hobby and career, ideal and reality, these are the questions that people have to think about. Can street dance, which one loves, become one's job or not? How to solve the realistic problems one has to face in the process of pursuing one's dream and sticking to one's ideal? Will these realistic problems affect the direction of one's life planning?

For Li, she was once in a dilemma and torn between street dance as a hobby or a career, but she temporarily chooses to develop it as a hobby. Considering the fierce competition and the short work lifespan of a dance teacher or a professional dancer in the street dance industry, Li Yinglin thinks it is not suitable for her own development plan. "I love street dance and enjoy dancing and would like to pursue it as a professional dancer. But the reality is that it is better for me to keep at it as a hobby. Then, I won't have the same stress as those who treat street dance as their main job. There is more spiritual enjoyment."

Between dreams and reality, Li temporarily chooses to compromise with reality. Talking about her career plan, Li Yinglin wants to become a music teacher. She has obtained the Teacher Certificate through her hard-work.


Li Yinglin and her students 

Unlike Li Yinglin, Yu Ao has chosen a different path. The recognition of street dance among the Chinese public has gradually increased in recent years, and the street dance industry is growing in China. The popular variety show "Street Dance of China" has created a street dance craze in China, and breakdance (or breaking) has officially become an Olympic event. In the midst of this, Yu Ao sees his future in the street dance industry in China.

"I feel that I have a responsibility to raise the standard of the whole street dance industry and even the art industry, and I am willing to be a resource provider." With an understanding of the needs of the time and a clear self-positioning, Yu Ao chose to start his own business. He founded an art education company with a partner, built an art platform and is bringing many of his ideas to fruition in the process of his entrepreneurship. "I will never stop at street dance itself, I can't just dance. I grew up wishing I could know more and be able to keep exploring the world" he says.


Yu Ao Jiawei participating in an offline activity of his studio

Click here to know more: 


Written by Liu Yalin, Wei Xiaonan, Xu Yirui 

Proofread by Edwin Baak 

Edited by Li Jianru

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