UNK Today | August 2014 - page 27

Born to Dance
Watanabe started UNK dance group, has dreams of being on Broadway
UNK
Today
:
Personalities
By JOSH MOODY
Hub Staff Writer
KEARNEY — If you have
attended a cultural festival at
the University of Nebraska at
Kearney in the last year you’ve
probably seen Akira Watanabe
dance.
Founder of Dance at UNK —
an international students dance
team —Watanabe and her
fellow dancers have performed
at four cultural festivals and at
the annual International Food
Festival.
Watanabe started the dance
group in September. The group
has now grown to about 30
members, male and female. It
performs dances with its own
choreography set mostly to
Asian and American music.
“I enjoy dancing with my
friends,” Watanabe said.
A sophomore musical the-
ater major from Gifu, Japan,
Watanabe was introduced to
dance when she began ballet at
3 years old.
“I hated ballet,” Watanabe
said with a laugh.
Watanabe became more
involved with dance in junior
high and high school. She stud-
ied jazz and hip hop styles and
enjoyed them much
more than ballet.
Her passion for
dance grew out of
her love of theater,
which developed
when she attended
musicals with her
mother in Japan.
Watanabe now
has found herself
on the stage performing for
Kearney Community Theatre.
Watanabe has acted in two
KCT’s “Hello Dolly,” and “9
to 5.”
“I was looking for some
place to be on stage,” Watanabe
said. “I think it’s a good oppor-
tunity for me.”
No stranger to the stage,
Watanabe says that there is
one obstacle that she is still
working to overcome — lan-
guage.
“English is difficult,” Wata-
nabe said.
In fast-paced theater produc-
tions, Watanabe said that she
sometimes struggles to follow
along when the cast and crew
speak too quickly.
She relies on her
fellow actors to
keep up with the
action. This is an
obstacle that she
thinks she will
overcome as her
language skills
improve.
“I have so
much love for the stage,” Wata-
nabe said. “When I stand on the
stage, I just feel so free.”
So free in fact that she can’t
even pick people out of the
audience.
“I just create a world to
myself on the stage,” Watanabe
said.
After graduation, Watanabe
hopes to stay in the United
States to pursue a big dream —
being on Broadway.
email to:
“I have so
much
love for the stage.
When I stand on
the stage, I just
feel so free.”
Akira Watanabe
AKIRA
WATA-
NABE
practices a
dance rou-
tine prior to
a perfor-
mance.
Watanabe
is a found-
ing member
of Dance
at UNK, an
internation-
al dance
group with
more than
30 mem-
bers.
IN ADDITION
to her performances with Dance at UNK,
Watanabe also performs with Kearney Community
Theatre. A musical theater major, Watanabe developed a
passion for theater as a child.
Josh Moody, Kearney Hub
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