Student Spotlight: Kimiye Maeshiro '23
When not busy with classes or leading campus tours, Kimiye Maeshiro '23 is most likely dancing. Kimiye has been a leader in the dance group Rhythm N' Motion, the Bi-Co Fall Student Dance Concert, and most recently, organized a traditional Filipino dance performance with fellow Bi-Co Filipino students. Before she makes her way from the dance stage to the commencement stage, Kimiye reflects on what the dance community in the Tri-Co means to her and how she incorporated dance into her senior thesis.
Originally from Honolulu, Hawai’i, dance had always been an important part of Kimiye’s life, and she knew she wanted to find a dance community in college. For Kimiye, that community has primarily been Rhythm N' Motion (RnM), one of Tri-Co's oldest dance groups.
“What I really love about the dance community is that it’s a safe cultural space for a lot of students. We are not only performing these art forms that are tied to our cultural roots, but we are also finding community in each other, and getting to share that with the rest of the Tri-Co is something that I'm really proud to be a leader of,” says Kimiye.
In 2021, Kimiye served in roles that helped bring dance back to campus after many groups and performances went into hiatus during the pandemic. As RnM’s logistics director, Kimiye led a revamp of the group and built back their club body after they had lost many members during the College’s remote year. RnM was on hiatus during the spring of 2020 and did not start up again until the fall of 2021. Today, RnM has over 30 members and just celebrated their 20th anniversary. Kimiye was also a co-director for the 2021 Bi-Co Fall Student Dance Concert and helped bring it back in-person for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
This past year, Kimiye fulfilled her wish to perform Tinikling, a Filipino folk dance that involves clapping and jumping over long bamboo sticks, on campus. With her friend Isabel Oalican ‘23, the two formed a small group of Filipino students from Bryn Mawr and Haverford to choreograph and learn Tinikling. They performed their dance at the Bi-Co Fall Student Dance Concert and at the Asian Student Association's annual Culture Show, a dream Kimiye and Isabel had shared since they were first-years.
“It was really nice to meet every week with other people who have Filipino backgrounds in preparing for this performance. Being able to perform it at the Fall Student Dance Concert was a big deal. More importantly, performing it at ASA after having thought about it and dreamed about it with Isabel for four years and finally seeing it come to fruition brought tears to my eyes. I am so proud of the work we did for that performance,” reflects Kimiye.
Given how passionate Kimiye is about dance, it does not come as a surprise that dance was the focus of her senior thesis. Kimiye’s thesis, “Urban Dance: How Artistic Nomenclature Dances Around the Appropriation of Hip Hop Culture,” brings dance together with her linguistics studies. She examines how a dancer’s intersectionality affects their artistry and how the words they use influence the categorization and teaching of these art forms. Her thesis extends upon her research as a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow where Kimiye had been analyzing the power that names hold historically, artistically, and culturally in relation to dance.
“My thesis looks at sociolinguistics and how language influences culture, how culture influences language, and how history and power play into these things," says Kimiye. “What does it mean for me to be participating and studying these art forms that don’t come from my culture and how do I practice that with integrity? Why am I, as a Filipino Japanese American from Hawai’i, really moved by hip-hop dance, and how do those histories from these different groups of people overlap and intersect with one another? It’s been so interesting, and it’s impacted how I carry myself in all of my dance practices."
After graduating this week, Kimiye plans on continuing her work in Bryn Mawr Admissions. She's been with the department since her sophomore year as a tour guide and spent this past year as their lead intern. She recently accepted a position as an admissions officer that will begin next month. She eventually plans to attend graduate school to study arts administration or performance studies to become a creative director.
“Knowing that I had an impact in creating more safe spaces for BIPOC individuals whether that’s through dance or cultural celebration, that’s a legacy that I’m really proud to leave behind as I get ready to graduate."