HomeBad Ass Asians'Dance to the Polls' pushes youth to exercise their vote

‘Dance to the Polls’ pushes youth to exercise their vote

Dance to the Polls
Dance to the Polls

By Loan-Ahn Pham, AsAmNews Intern

Viral Cardi B interviews with Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, a free Katy Perry concert supporting Hillary Clinton before the 2016 elections, and Stevie Wonder songs penned for Barack Obama’s campaigns in 2012 and 2008. 

The music stage and the political stage have long collided, and one organization is tapping into that phenomenon to mobilize young AAPI voters. 

‘Dance to the Polls,’ hosted by The 2020 Project, is an upcoming webinar featuring performances and workshops, all with the purpose of pushing young dancers to engage with their communities and the political process. The two-day event will be held on Aug. 28 and Aug 29 from 5-8PST.  

The 2020 Project is an initiative of UNAVSA (Union of North American Vietnamese Student Organizations), YOMYOMF (“You Offend ME, You Offend My FAMILY”) and sponsored by AsAmNews. It aims to register 100,000 AAPIs by November, according to Jenni Huynh, the project’s director. 

The 2020 Project, Huynh said, was created out of necessity when she and her teammates at UNAVSA recognized the low turnout of APPI voters during the 2016 presidential elections. 

“Our target audience was originally all Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders,” Huynh told AsAmNews. “Then, as we started kind of working into the groove of it, it just seemed that it was more important to target young voters right now because they are turning 18 and becoming eligible to vote.” 

‘Dance to the Polls’ is an effort to make civic engagement more approachable than it would be in serious lecture-based workshops and webinars, Huynh continued. 

“Everyone, a little bit, likes to dance or likes the music community right?” Huynh said. “[The event] was just a really great idea to reach people that probably aren’t reached out to.” 

‘Dance to the Polls’ will go beyond performances, Chris Phan, The 2020 Project’s ambassador coordinator, said. 

Phan, who pitched the event from her own experiences as a former collegiate dancer said that current events such as Black Lives Matter and the murder of George Floyd have led to the dance community’s reevaluation of itself. 

“The dance community was figuring out what it means to be a community that is significantly Asian American, while taking roots from black culture,” Phan told AsAmNews. “I thought this was a really good potential way of talking about civic engagement on a larger platform.” 

“We’re helping people think a little bit larger: When they talk about dance, what are you really talking about?” Phan, added. 

The event will feature a diverse set of AAPI and Black performers and panelists, including Danyel Moulton, a dance teacher and director based in Fullerton, California.

Moulton is also a part of professional dance teams, including V MO and LFG. Her work is featured above.

“Event like this are so important to helping voter turnout because the education about voting is so suppressed, much less the knowledge about political issues and awareness,” Moulton told AsAmNews. “Simply giving access to people, showing them where and how to vote, and appealing to their interests (like the dance community) are wonderful ways to get people of all walks of life in involved.”

Carlo Darang, the San Diego-based co-director of professional dance teams Choreo Cookies and GWOWNUPS, will also be a part of the event.

“Growing up as a Filipino American, I’ve always felt this tug and pull with being different and trying to assimilate,” Darang said. “But as I got older and I was introduced to the dance community, I started to see how diverse a place it can be and how important it was to create a space of inclusivity and openness.”

“If we want the same for our greater communities, then we need to bring our determination and voice to the polls,” Darang said. 

As with previous events hosted by The 2020 Project, Huynh said, ‘Dance to the Polls’ will feature a live ticker of how many attendees pledge to vote or register to vote during the event. 

“It’s proven that someone, who normally would not have voted, needs to be bothered seven separate times, on average, to get to the poll, so we’re going to be that annoying,” Huynh said. “This is the first few of many [events] to come.” 

RSVP to ‘Dance to the Polls’ via Facebook, or stream the webinars on Youtube Live. View the event schedules below.

View this post on Instagram

We’ve got a full schedule lined up for Dance to the Polls! RSVP at bit.ly/dancetothepolls⁣ ⁣ DAY 1 BIOS⁣ ⁣ In helping to develop dance leaders in the areas of personal growth and transformative change, @arnelcalvario places emphasis on the history and heritage of the dance art forms they learn, teach, and practice, with the goal of staying in the lane of appreciation vs. appropriation. He is committed to supporting LGTBQIA+ liberation, Black liberation, feminism, education reform, disability justice, and the use of art to promote healing, freedom, meaningful growth, empowerment, and transformative growth for all the communities we serve.⁣ ⁣ @carlodarang is a dancer and community leader that uses his art to help create a positive and inclusive environment among his students. As a Filipino-American himself, Carlo will talk about his upbringing and how that has affected how he navigates the current political/social climate.⁣ ⁣ @themiekodm6117 will be talking about the Black Lives Matter movement in relation to the dance community, Intersectional energy, being a Black director/leader within the dance community and the high school dance circuit, and how allies can use their privilege to help movements of any kind. ⁣ ⁣ Linking both the dance world to the outside world and her identity as an Asian American woman to the art she creates is extremely important to @sorahyang, especially given her family’s experiences as immigrant small-business owners. Through volunteering, raising money, supporting causes, or raising awareness, advocacy and community involvement beyond the dance world has given her tremendous purpose within her dance work. She grew up feeling jaded and distant from politics, but the 2016 election was a wake-up call on how important it is to vote because the repercussions of NOT contributing is far too costly. Although not an expert on the political system, she has been educating herself and using her platform to share resources. She hopes to encourage others who might feel overwhelmed by politics to know that it's never too late to begin, and that their engagement, empathy, and VOTE matter.⁣ ⁣ 🗳️ Register to vote at vote-2020-project.org/vote⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣

A post shared by The 2020 Project (@vote2020project) on

View this post on Instagram

We’ve got a full schedule lined up for Dance to the Polls! Are we on your calendar yet? Learn more and RSVP at bit.ly/dancetothepolls (link in our bio)!⁣ DAY 2 BIOS As an Asian American/Pacific Islander woman, Brittnie is continuously learning about other cultures and social issues. Born and raised in Hawaii, she had a different perspective on racism compared to the regions. In most recent events, she has been educating herself on history and current social issues. There is so much more to learn and adapt to, but she will be talking about local issues, the dance community, and the process of how gaining new knowledge changed her perspectives. As the organizer of Reveal Dance Chicago, Monyett will be sharing his perspective from the dance community in Chicago and how his experience in this community informs his understanding and push to keep learning about local issues and the importance of civic engagement. David Lee’s tenure as Culture Shock LA’s Artistic Director has led him to investigate the intersectionality between dance education, social activism, and inherited cultural trauma. He will be discussing how he’s been integrating social justice and crafting personalized research while refining the questions for the individual rather than settling for answers. As a dancer who is also an NYU graduate in Applied Psychology and Sociology, Youran Lee is constantly working to strengthen mental health/wellness practices in the arts. She is a strong advocate for women’s safety, striving to shatter stereotypes and expectations in the dance industry. In addition, she is a dance coach for elementary school students at PS 8 in Washington Heights, and will be sharing her experiences as a dancer working for the NYC Department of Education. 🗳️ Are you registered to vote yet? If not, do so here: vote-2020-project.org/vote⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ ☑️ Already registered to vote? Follow the same link to pledge to vote

A post shared by The 2020 Project (@vote2020project) on

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Photo: Image from https://www.facebook.com/events/1868969236573156/


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