Student Stories: Representing Physics and Hip Hop

By Mina Cho

Mina ChoI started to dance because I wanted to be cool. No, really – this is the utter truth. It wasn’t until I moved out to Maryland that I figured out how to do this.

I started my first year of graduate school in Physics at the University of Maryland College Park (I’m from Salt Lake City, Utah). My only exposure to hip hop was in the movies and on TV. Somewhere in my childhood memory, I vaguely remember watching Jay-Z’s Hard Knock Life music video on MTV, but that was about it.

I felt all sorts of fluttering in my heart the first time I took the red line into DC on the Metro. I remember my breath being taken away by the miles and miles of graffiti. To me, it was raw. It was fresh. It was in-your-face. It was creative. It had all the elements I found beautiful about physics. And this is when ideas started flying around in my head.

I wanted to get into hip hop. I sat around on my butt doing physics all day and I needed to move… Maybe I could move and get into hip hop as well. And that was when things fell into place.

I took my first hip hop dance class with Vogue Wilborn at the University of Maryland, my second semester here. I fell in love with hip hop dance that very first class and couldn’t believe how much happiness it brought me. When our 5-week course was over, she mentioned that if there was anyone in class who wanted to keep training in hip hop, she had heard Joy of Motion Dance Center in DC was very good.

And so that is around the time I applied for a workstudy position at Joy of Motion Dance Center Friendship Heights. I love the community that is built around the idea that “Dance is for Everyone.” Regularly, I take classes with Vincent Williams (beginning/adv. beginning jazz), Esperonto Bean (beginning hip hop, house, punking/waacking), and Dana House (Intro to Breakdancing). I absolutely adore each one of them and admire how they project warmth when they teach although they have radically different personalities and teaching styles.

Having danced now for little over half a year, I believe that dance is good for the soul and that it is not only physically demanding, but mentally demanding in that you must always be present and focused. Workstudying at Joy of Motion Dance Center makes me realize that dance is about being exactly where you need to be at the moment. It’s about going with the flow and expressing who you are.

So I am now happy in having found a balance of sorts. I proudly tell people I meet that I study physics at the University of Maryland and that I dance and workstudy at Joy of Motion Dance Center. If you see me on campus or around the city, you will see me representing both physics and hip hop – yes, I carry around my textbooks on Gravitation and Modern Quantum Mechanics… but I am also killing them Wu-Tang knee-high socks!

If you’re interested in learning more about our studio workstudy program, please visit our Employment page. Also check out our full offering of adult dance classes!