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El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

Time Out! Ep. 11: Hershey Janga

Following Hershey Janga’s hip-hop journey through friends and clubs
Hershey Janga strikes a fierce expression while dancing for MVDT’s 2023 spring show. Photo courtesy of Hershey Janga | Used with permission

Ellie Wang · Hershey Janga | Music credit | Epidemic Country

EW: Hello everyone, my name is Ellie Wang, and welcome to Episode 11 of Time Out! In each episode, we will be diving into the sports scene here at MVHS and exploring the journeys of athletes from various sports. This episode, we are joined by junior Hershey Janga, a dancer on the dance team who enjoys dancing at MVHS with her friends. Let’s get started.

EW: What kind of dance did you start off doing first? And when did you start?

HJ: I originally started doing Indian classical dance called Kuchipudi. And I started doing it when I was 3 or 4 years old. And then from there, I explored other Indian dance styles like Kathak and Bharatanatyam. And then it evolved into hip-hop and Bollywood fusion. 

EW: When did you start dancing hip-hop specifically?

HJ: It was self-taught and I think I started when I was around five. 

EW: How did you self-teach yourself that? Hip-hop is hard.

HJ: Hip-hop is hard. I had a friend who did hip-hop at the time, and she was also in the same Indian classical dance group that I was in. And so I saw her doing her routine once and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s fun.’ So I started looking at videos and I just learned it with the mirror version slowed. I just learned a bunch of choreos.

EW: What do you think of hip-hop as a dance style?

HJ: I think it’s so fun. And there’s no rules to hip-hop. You can add whatever type of energy and your character to it. There’s no certain technique for hip-hop. You can make it your own thing, and it’s so unique.

EW: You said this was self-taught, right? So what were some of your struggles while learning it?

HJ: I’d say, compared to Indian classical dance, which I was more used to, Indian classical dance is very technique-based. It’s very strict and there’s a lot of rules. And there’s a lot of theory behind it, and you’re very stiff most of the time. But then, hip-hop is very flowy, and you add your own personality. So it was hard in terms of that transition, but it was nice because it was opening me to a different style of dance and I could actually open up my body and be myself, which I didn’t know I liked.

EW: So you kind of mentioned this already, but can you expand on your favorite aspects of hip-hop?

HJ: I feel like it’s so strong. No matter what it is, it could be feminine hip-hop or masculine hip-hop, but either way, it’s really strong and it’s really prominent. Even the music, it’s so eye-catching, and I feel like as a performer, hip-hop for me personally is the most attractive form of dance because you can just do whatever facials you want, and you could smile or you could be mugging it and you could still look so good. It’s mainly the energy and it’s mainly how flexible you can be with how you like to portray yourself in hip-hop.

EW: How is leading Andaaz for you?

HJ: Andaaz is so fun, and the people are so sweet. And because it’s a Bollywood, hip-hop fusion, I think we all relate to each other because we’re all mainly Indian. So we create a new family and it’s so nice because we all have a similar passion for dance. So it’s really nice. We can just talk. It’s really chill, it’s not like a strict club or anything, so we just like to come together and learn choreo and perform. So yeah, I think it’s really fun. It’s for sure something I look forward to after the week.

Hershey Janga poses with the MV Andaaz team after its performance. Photo courtesy of Hershey Janga | Used with permission

EW: The club is like a fusion right? So how do you balance out the different dance styles—hip-hop and Indian classical?

HJ: So I actually quit Indian classical because I was doing so much more hip-hop stuff outside of my classical dances. But I’m thinking of picking it up again. I think originally why I quit was because I injured my ankle. I injured my ankle when I was doing classical dance because we were dancing on pots for an Indian classical routine. So I injured myself and then I started attending hip-hop classes because it was a little less strenuous for my body. When I was doing it at the same time, I didn’t really have a balance but it was all fun. I just think hip-hop was my relaxing moment because, like I said, Indian classical dance is very strict. So that was for sure an actual class where I had to learn. But then hip-hop was my break time where I could be myself and just enjoy dancing.

EW: Nice. So how did you start off with Andaaz?

HJ: Actually, freshman year, I recently moved to Cupertino, and my friend was trying out for Andaaz and I didn’t even know Andaaz was a thing, so I just tagged along for fun. But I ended up getting in the team and so it was chill freshman year, it was alright, and then my favorite seniors left and then I decided to just try out for captain for fun. And then eventually I got the captain position and it was great. It was nice. Because freshman year, I was very quiet on the team but then as soon as I got the captain position, I felt so much more involved. I could really incorporate my style of hip-hop, Bollywood fusion into the team. I’m so happy with how the team turned out and the people are so great.

EW: What are some struggles you face leading the club?

HJ: Because it’s a club, it’s hard for people to give it priority. It’s so fun but when we do need to be serious, it’s hard to get people to lock in because they’re so used to having so much fun and they’re so used to being chill during practices. So when the show season hits, it’s hard for us to lock in. So I’d say that’s the biggest thing. And then something else is I really want the guys and the girls to get closer because there’s always this boundary between us and I really want us to build a relationship where all of us are family and it’s not just guys and girls separated. 

EW: So are you planning on creating or leading any other clubs in the future?

HJ: So actually, [sophomore] Sarah [Shelke] is going to introduce a Hip-hop Club so I am planning to be an officer for Hip-hop Club and I’m so excited because Hip-hop Club is gonna be an open club, there’s no auditions or selections, and it’s just where everyone can just come together and dance and it’ll be so nice. I look forward to leading the Hip-hop Club. 

EW: What are some of your plans for the new hip-hop club?

HJ: Performances. I really want to show MV true hip-hop, because I know we have a K-pop club and we have other specific styles of dance. I feel like hip-hop is not new, but it’s overlooked, so it’d be so cool to see a purely hip-hop performance at school. I think it’d be so cool.

EW: I agree. So what do you plan to achieve with your hip-hop skills or what is something you want to do with it in the future?

HJ: I think a lot of people take hip-hop too seriously. I feel like they focus so much on doing the dance or doing the choreography but hip-hop is just something that you can have so much fun with. You just have to loosen up your body and add your own swag to it. So I really want people to explore themselves and be free with how they dance instead of taking it so seriously and taking it as a task instead. I want them to just have fun with it.

EW: And that’s it for Episode 11 of Time Out! Thank you so much Hershey for joining us on this episode. I’m Ellie, and thanks for tuning in.

About the Contributor
Ellie Wang, Staff Writer
Ellie is a sophomore and staff writer for El Estoque. The only nonfiction she consumes is journalism and crime documentaries, which she listens to while drawing and writing. She also has five ducks and a chicken that she spoils too much.
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