Urban Dance Helps Asian Americans Break Stereotypes

September 14, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. pioneer [pahy-uh-NEER] (n.) – someone who is among the first to research and develop a new area of knowledge or activity
Example: The pioneer of the dance crew decided to start another dance group in another country.

2. pivotal [PIV-uh-tl] (adj.) – of high importance in the development or success of something
Example: Performing with the dance legend plays a pivotal role in the life of young dancers.

3. prominent [PROM-uh-nuhnt] (adj.) – important; famous
Example: The guest speaker is a member of the prominent dance group.

4. stereotype [STER-ee-uh-tahyp, STEER-] (n.) – a standardized conception or idea about a particular type of person or thing
Example: One common stereotype about Asians is that they have very high IQs.

5. paradigm [PAR-uh-dahym, -dim] (n.) – a typical example or pattern of something; a model
Example: Society’s paradigm of the urban dance is often associated with Latinos and African Americans.


Read the text below.
Asian American dancers are now breaking Asian stereotypes in the US through urban dance.

Popularly known as hip hop, urban dance started 40 years ago in urban New York. Although it has always been associated with Latinos and African Americans, hip hop is now making way for the dominance of Asian American urban dancers.

Arnel Calvario, a Filipino American, is one of the pioneers of Asian American urban dance. He thought of starting a dance company particularly during a pivotal moment when people told him they never saw an Asian dance very well before.

In the early 1990s, Calvario incorporated urban dance in a cultural show in his college. He then formed the dance company Kaba Modern, which spread so fast among Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese in a year.

According to Calvario, urban dance has never been as prominent as it is now. But what made him glad was when Asian Americans started dominating dance competitions on American television. With dancing, traditional Asian stereotypes, such as being either martial artists or nerds, seem to have been broken.

Urban dance is actually something that all cultures do. However, people do not seem to have shifted their paradigms yet. Fortunately, the rise of Asian American dancers in this area is setting a new positive perspective on urban dance. Hopefully, Asians would see dancing as a good stress reliever and a venue to meet new friends in universities instead of being a distraction from studying.

Today, social media allow dance to spread globally. Urban dance is no longer limited to any particular minority group and is now universal.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Why do you think Asian Americans are often stereotyped as nerd and martial artists?
·         Do you think it is difficult to break the stereotypes among Asian Americans? Please explain your answer.

Discussion B

·         Why do you think urban dance or hip hop is popular among the youths in America?
·         If you were to do a type of dance, what would it be and why?


September 14, 2013