Students pursue philanthropic goals through self-made CSUN dance group
She stood by the window, smiling. Sharing everything she knew and everything she loved about dance. Every few seconds, she would tilt her head over her shoulders to watch her four teammates rehearse.
Her words ceased as a rushing yearn to dance took over her body. After a few minutes, that’s exactly what Elisea Hale did.
In a luminescent room, five young ladies paint illustrative pictures with hand movements, creating motions that radiate the human eye. Although not perfectly choreographed, the ladies strive, not for perfection, but for pure passion.
“I have a passion for dance,” said Hale, 21, president of the up-and-coming dance group Abstract Existence. “I felt that if I started something that dealt with my passion, I could give back to my community.”
Using the art of dance, the organization’s mission is to help those in need, whether the necessity be on campus or in the surrounding neighborhoods.
With a combination of love and kindness, Abstract Existence strives to make an impact by creating a story through dance and sending a message to their audience.
Unlike Hale, Elayne Woods, 21, vice president of the dance team, does not consider herself a dancer. However, she does view dance as a way to express her emotions, which is why she helped Hale with the formation of the club and ultimately joined the team.
There’s a reason why each song is chosen depending on the issue we’re supporting. Maybe we’ll be doing a performance that will benefit a brest cancer organization and we’ll tell a story through dance that will bring awareness to that struggle, to that cause.
Elayne Woods Vice President of Abstract Existence
“We want our audience to be aware of the struggles. That’s what our dancing interprets,” Woods said. “It’s all about giving back or raising awareness about an important issue.”
A graduating senior, Hale always wanted to start a dance group with the sole purpose of helping others.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re not good at dancing. You should love to dance, but you have to love people,” Hale said.
Monica Turner, 56, adviser of the organization and a Pan-African Studies professor at CSUN, has seen the gradual change that college students undergo. Watching Abstract Existence transform from one student’s aspiration into a philanthropic dance team has shown the professor a different kind of ambition, she said.
“When Elayne approached me with this idea, I immediately loved it and supported it,” Turner said. “Many students have an idealized perception of what a college degree will do. I’m glad that these young ladies are interested in what’s truly out there and are thinking outside of the box.”
The group is strictly non-competitive which is something that tends to steer people away, Hale said. Nonetheless, the girls are always looking to strengthen their numbers.
“It’s hard to recruit, but you get to know those few that stick around,” Hale said, when referring to the ladies in rehearsal. “We’re the strong five. If this is all we can get, we’ll make it work.”
From hip-hop to ballroom, Hale, the only dance student of the pack, creates the choreography and incorporates a variety of dance styles and rhythms that will allow each performance to tell a story.
“There’s a reason why each song is chosen depending on the issue we’re supporting,” Woods said. “Maybe we’ll be doing a performance that will benefit a breast cancer organization and we’ll tell a story through dance that will bring awareness to that struggle, to that cause.”
It doesn’t matter if you’re not good at dancing. You should love to dance, but you have to love people
Elisea Hale President of Abstract Existence
Hale and Woods have been best friends for years and have participated in several dance performances together. Now, they are getting ready to perform their first ever ensemble in front of the CSUN community.
Abstract Organization’s performance will be taking place toward the end of the semester in April. All the profits collected from entrance fees will be donated to the Educational Opportunity Program on campus, with the purpose to help students enroll in the university.
“Part of the reason why we’re here is to give back to the community, to students,” said Sean James, an EOP Transitional Program Assistant who helped Hale get into CSUN. “For [Elisea] to be doing something like this really demonstrates that she appreciated the help we offered her.”
Growing up as a foster child in the city of Palmdale, Hale was taught to always give back. She graduated with a low GPA from high school and never imagined attending college. The upcoming event is her way to not only give thanks, but to bid farewell to the people who helped her, and the campus that invited her in.
“I did poorly in high school, but we need kids to understand that doesn’t mean you’re not going to go anywhere,” Hale said.
Since the club is fairly new on campus, they’ve yet to perform an actual show. However, that hasn’t stopped them from helping. The girls are currently selling raffle tickets, from now until the show. All proceeds will go to the EOP.
“Education should be a place to explore and these girls are on the right path,” said Turner. “There are a variety of artistic groups that produce art for the sake of art. However, that is one thing that makes this group unique.”
The girls hope to help out more than one person, although Hale said as long as one is benefited, she will feel accomplished and will leave the club with the motivation to keep pushing for more.
The main purpose of this is that they understand the importance of the impact they’re making, no matter how small it may be, Turner said.