The Heights

Updated: September 12, 2016

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Instructor celebrates 30 Years of Foothill Dance with Blessings

The Foothill Repertory Dance Company presents Blessings, its annual showcase of student choreography and dance, June 3–4 at 7 p.m. in the Smithwick Theater at the campus in Los Altos Hills. The performance marks the 30th anniversary of Foothill’s popular dance program under the leadership of Dance Instructor Bubba Gong, M.A. An opening act of experimental student works begins at 7 p.m. with the main curtain at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.

In addition to world dance forms and specialty acts, the family-friendly, two-hour concert will feature classic Broadway choreography from Chicago, A Chorus Line, Flower Drum Song, The Wiz and Grease. Gong will also debut Silky Thoughts, a Fosse-inspired work that celebrates his 30-year teaching milestone. Students will present fresh, original works that include salsa, contemporary solos, hip-hop, ballet folklorico, traditional Hawaiian, classical Indian and more.

“As an instructor, it’s critical for me to help my students imbue their work with proper technique, as well as with passion and compassion. Foothill dancers leave egos and attitudes at the door, which enables everyone to practice and perform with a spirit of generosity and grace,” Gong says. “At Foothill, we dance in a playground of creative fun and freedom. I’m proud that our dancers continually challenge themselves creatively and physically. They truly have no fear when it comes to creativity.”

Blessings highlights include a contemporary ballet tribute to the creative genius of Prince featuring favorites Baby, I’m a Star, The Question of U and Beautiful Ones. In addition to performing tap to Singin’ in the Rain, Gong and company will premiere Rainbow Bridge, a ballet inspired by those who have loved and lost, as well as Chinoise Suite to the music of Puccini.

“Throughout my dance education career, I’ve observed how dance transcends the human spirit and brings us together,” Gong says. “Dance is universal. It speaks to and feeds our souls. As I reflect on my 30 years at Foothill–a place I call home–I’m grateful to do work that is truly a blessing.”

Over the past three decades, Gong has observed dance and dancers evolve. The new generation of dancers must be a triple threat; they must excel as dancers, singers and actors. “At Foothill, we’re proud to be on the forefront of new and emerging dance techniques, including hip-hop and contemporary forms, which have exploded in popularity,” he says.

Competition in the professional dance industry has also increased, as have exciting performing opportunities for dancers with the right combination of training and talent. Gong points to popular shows like So You Think You Can Dance, America’s Best Dance Crews, American Idol and others that encourage dancers to be versatile, dream big, and train with power and passion. To meet dancers’ evolving needs, Foothill offers a variety of dance courses each 12-week quarter. Each emphasizes a specific dance technique, including ballet, modern, jazz, world, contemporary and hip-hop. Additional dance courses give students the unique opportunity to develop original choreography and produce small- and large-scale performances.

A graduate of Stanford University and a Walt Disney discovery, Gong was the first full-time dance instructor hired by Foothill in 1989. He brings a variety of dance instruction and professional acumen to Foothill’s dynamic dance program. Under his guidance, the program has become renown for its wide range of techniques from Broadway to ballet and hip-hop to contemporary dance. “My Disney roots always inform my teaching and philosophy: Dare to dream, believe in yourself, reach for the stars, and together we can soar,” he says.

Honored by Bay Area Theatre Critics’ Circle for his choreography of Foothill Music Theatre’s West Side Story, Gong has won Drama-Logue and Dean Goodman awards, and was selected choreographer for the opening of the 2015 San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade and 2012 Emmy Awards. He remains a steadfast advocate of the arts and dance, and frequently serves on adjudicating panels for Silicon Valley Arts, Peninsula Community Foundation and Association of Asian Pacific American Artists Board of Directors.

“As I celebrate 30 years of Foothill dance, I’m reminded of the thousands of students who have allowed me to be part of their creative lives,” he says. “They remain part of our rich dance legacy of diversity and inclusion—the celebration of all types of bodies, shapes, sizes and technique levels. I continue to be inspired by my students, and am honored and humbled to do work that is a celebration of creativity, movement and love.”

To purchase advance tickets, call (650) 949-7354. The box office opens at 6 p.m. on performance dates.

Parking Lots 1, 5 and 8 provide best access to the theatre. Purchase parking permit for $3 from dispensers in any student lot. Dispensers accept credit/debit cards and cash.

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