KAREN CHUANG

We are stoked to feature Karen Chuang as our #FEMMEFEATUREFRIDAY this week! This determined girl has always had a strong sense of self and her hunger for growth has led her to much success. She is passionate about constantly evolving as a person and artist, and she’s always followed her instincts in her life and in her craft. She encourages us to take the time to enjoy the present moment and feel appreciation for where we are in our journeys while we strive for more. Karen is fearless and she accepts difficulties as opportunities for expanding her knowledge, perspective and self-awareness. What a badass!

Karen is a gifted dancer whose talent has taken her on jobs across the globe! She has toured with Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, and Kanye West. She has also danced in A Christmas Story: Live! and Grease: Live!. When Karen isn’t living her life on the stage, you can find her in the studio teaching and choreographing. She has been the winner of the Capezio ACE Award and was a finalist at the McCallum Choreography Festival. Currently, she is on faculty with Hollywood Vibe and Entity Contemporary Dance. Above her talent, this lovely woman exudes so much strength, courage, and kindness in everything she does! A true example of using your success to spread your light.

Karen is a beautiful role model for so many women in the dance and entertainment industry. As she challenges what it means to be a “woman”, she sets an example for the future generation of girls to define themselves on their own terms. In order to manifest change, Karen believes we must work together to shed light on issues we face as women and to remind one another that we each face similar tribulations. Thank you Karen for being such a positive light and force in this world! We are so grateful to have inspiring women like you who show us how we can elevate ourselves by lifting others.

 Artwork by Chloe Burderer (@chloeheartsart)

Artwork by Chloe Burderer (@chloeheartsart)

You are such an incredible artist who has always been highly creative and passionate about what you do. How do you feed your creative voice on the daily?

I feed my creative voice in three main ways: 1) By indulging in things I am familiar with 2) by exploring things that challenge me and 3) by keeping my physical and mental health in check. Things that I am familiar with help me feel joyful and confident, and they include practicing yoga, taking classes from teachers I love, and being with old friends. Things that I am less familiar with challenge me to expand on my current perspective or physical skills, and those include reading new books, taking classes in different techniques, and listening to podcasts on subjects I know little about. As for (3), my creativity is useless without my physical body and mental agility so I try to be consistent with leading a healthy lifestyle.

What are some of the ups and downs of being an artist?

The ups and down of being an artist have changed in different phases of my journey. When I first moved to LA, I felt lucky that my schedule and training regimen was flexible. I could train as much as I wanted with whomever I wanted whenever I wanted. However, the amount of time I devoted to dance affected my social life as a college student. After I graduated, I was given a variety of work opportunities that allowed me to travel the world while doing what I love. What made my first few years as an autonomous adult the most challenging was the industry’s unpredictability. Because I didn’t have another source of income I always felt a lot of pressure to maintain financial stability through dance. That sometimes made it hard for me to be really present in an experience, and it made it especially hard for me to uphold commitments with my friends and family. I also struggled with self-confidence and began to conflate my success as a person with my success as a dancer. 

Currently, I feel like the ups and downs have changed. I am still lucky enough to dance and create every day, and even luckier to share my work with others. I have a lot of choreographic freedom when it comes to the work I set and the pieces I teach in class. But the way I dance and choreograph is still a very big part of my personal identity, and it can be tiresome to always wonder if people like what I do. At the end of the day, I am most grateful for the lifestyle I get to live and the community of artists that I have come to be surrounded by.

Why is being a woman important to you?

Being a woman is important to me because as a woman, I get to set an example for young girls for what it means to be a female dancer and choreographer. I think we live in a special time when people are redefining the idea of “femininity” in all contexts: in the workplace, in the home setting, and even in dance. I like to blur the lines of conventional “feminine” and  “masculine” movement qualities to show girls that female dancers can perform and create a wide range of dynamics.

How do you think women can support each other more in this day and age?

I think the best kind of support stems from empathy. When women can understand each other’s perspectives and emotions, they grow their ability to authentically support each other. And to me, support isn’t just a singular moment like giving a shout-out on a social media platform or reposting a trending social injustice (although both can be effective). Support is having a genuine understanding of someone and then consistently doing thoughtful things for her. Support is empathy that turns into perpetual goodness. That is how women can support each other more in this day and age.

What’s your definition of a YGTGirl?

My definition of a YGTGirl is someone who lives with integrity. She believes the best in herself and in others, and helps to promote the general uplifting of those around her.