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Learn To Dance From The Best At Sino West

By Michael Abelson

Vicki Wang and Dragon Sun came to dance instruction from disparate backgrounds. Wang took to ballet and gymnastics at a young age while Sun trained in martial arts as a boy. Over time they continued to learn different disciplines from acrobatics and choreography to traditional Chinese Dance. Together they opened up Sino West, a studio that specialize in training its students in all things dance and performing arts. Wang took some time to answer questions about her long winding road to where she, and the studio, is today.

What ​was the inspiration behind opening Sino West? How long have you been in business?

We have been in business for six years, established in the fall of 2011. Dragon is a professional Chinese dancer and martial artist from China, and I grew up dancing in the Bay Area where it is very culturally diverse. Dragon trained vigorously in performing arts from a young age while I danced recreationally after school and on the weekends, focusing on academics. With our very different paths yet mutual love of dance, Chinese culture, and physical fitness, we wanted to be able to provide a studio in Santa Barbara that offered all kinds of movement arts, and especially Chinese arts, something that Santa Barbara does not have, to all kinds of students.

​How would you describe the atmosphere and culture classes at Sino West offer to students?

I would describe Sino West's atmosphere and culture as fun and comfortable. We provide high-quality instruction in dance and martial arts, and we have a more friendly, relaxed, and personal approach that makes students feel welcome, safe, and confident in themselves. Our students have expressed that at other studios it might feel stiff, competitive, and/or intimidating, but at Sino West they feel comfortable and happy while learning and improving. Also, because of the wide variety of dance and kung fu classes offered at Sino West, the culture is very accepting and diverse. Many students, of all nationalities and backgrounds, end up taking multiple classes venturing out and expanding their knowledge, and becoming more open and appreciative of one another.

​Along with your dance classes, you offer Kung Fu and Acrobatic classes. Can you tell me a little more about these and why you offer them?

Shaolin Kung Fu is a Chinese martial art that emphasizes on self-defense, flow, and exercise. If you watch it carefully, you will notice that kung fu movements can be very similar to dance movements. Very much so in Chinese dance and Chinese opera. And, while kung fu emphasizes peace, most modern kung fu competitions are choreographed routines rather than physical combat and therefore is an art form, similar to dance. Master Dragon of Sino West is thoroughly trained in Chinese dance as well as kung fu, so we offer both dance and kung fu, allowing students to find their preferred style of movement. Acrobatics classes work on tricks, tumbling, flexibility and strengthening; working toward developing skills such as cartwheels, handstands, and back flips. It complements dance a kung fu with acrobatic skills to add that wow-factor. And, it's fun to flip and do cool things with your body.

Why do you think someone should choose Sino West for their dance, martial arts, or other fitness training?

Sino West is truly a high-quality, welcoming, and fun place for students of all ages, genders, nationalities, shapes, and sizes. We have amazing teachers that are professional and/or certified in their field, that know how to teach, have fun while doing it, and are encouraging and inspirational. We are unique in that we offer a variety of classes from dance, kung fu, Zumba, yoga, and more. We are dedicated to enriching students' lives whether by expanding their cultural and technical experience, or simply by keeping them healthy and physically fit.

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