TOP 30: Saaya Anzai

Saaya Anzai
Major: Dance
Year: 3
Age: 20
Hometown: Torrance
In One Word: Passionate

Being ballet trained since a young age, Saaya Anzai is passionate about dance. Dance allows her to not only do what she loves to do, but also convey her emotions.

With PACN finished, Saaya is working on putting together a set with Kaba Modern for Body Rock, a big international dance competition taking place in San Diego. She is also working on various other projects as well.

Saaya hopes to dance in the industry or be a back up dancer.  However, in the end her dream is to open up a studio in Japan in an area where dance isn’t as popular, and teach little kids and underprivileged people how to dance. She wants to teach them in English, so it’s like killing two birds with one stone, teaching them both dance and English at the same time.

Saaya’s friend defines a great dancer as “someone who learns and teaches with humility, patience, and passion. Saaya Anzai is a great dancer…however, whether [she’s] a dancer or not, one can see that her bubbly personality and dedication shines in all that she pursues.”

KS: Tell us about yourself.

SA: I was born in San Francisco, but I moved to Torrance when I was three. My dad’s Japanese, and my mom’s full Korean, but she was born and raised in Japan due to the Korean War so she doesn’t know how to speak Korean. However, she’s blood Korean, so I’m half Korean. I have one older brother that goes to college in Japan. I started dancing when I was three, and I was in a semi-professional ballet company from the age of 7 until I finished high school. I’ve been dancing since I was 7, but I had only been dancing ballet when I got to high school, where I joined the advanced dance team and that’s when I started doing different styles, like jazz, contemporary, and hip hop. Now I’m a dance major doing all of those styles in Kaba Modern, and I’m also a coordinator for Kaba Modern, after being on the team for two years. In terms of dance, I like to be versatile – I used to only do ballet, but once I joined the dance team in high school, I branched out to different styles that I love to do. I think my favorite right now is contemporary, because I can emote a lot of things through that style. Ballet has a lot of discipline and rules, but contemporary breaks those boundaries, where you have all those ballet techniques behind it, but in front of it, there’s emotion and vulnerability that can be expressed through dancing.

KS: What have you accomplished here on campus, and what do you hope to accomplish?

SA: I feel like  the little things really build up. Within my dance team, I constantly tell them to strive to be the best that they can be. For people who have been on the team for only one year, I just want them to not worry about any problems, drama, or stress, and to let the older members handle all of that. When they’re on the team for their first year, I tell them to enjoy what they can and take everything in – to be a sponge and absorb what they can. And if they come back the next year, to give back what they’ve taken in from the year before, and pass the legacy along for future generations. I like to motivate people to give back what they’ve learned. For me, it’s not really a physical thing I do for the community, it’s more of a mental thing – inspiring people to pass on the inspiration. Ever since my freshman year I’ve been inspired by so many people, I feel like if I don’t pay it forward and pass along the inspiration that I’ve been fed, those inspirations that have been there for me have no purpose on this campus. I feel like whatever inspiration I have been fed I just want to pass along so they can inspire others in the future generations to keep the community alive and growing.

KS: Who or what has been the biggest influence on you?

SA: I would say the alumni, the oldies, and the returners on Kaba Modern. They’ve really helped me to build strong work ethic and inspired me to inspire others. They have great words of wisdom., and definitely their strong work ethic helps to keep the community alive.

KS: What are you most passionate about?

SA: Dance. I was born in a very stern environment, where I couldn’t really show my emotions. I was also kept on a very tight schedule – I went to school six days a week, because I had Japanese school on Saturdays, and because I was in a semi-professional ballet company, I was required to take one to two ballet classes per day. In addition to ballet and Japanese school, I was in soccer, learning piano, and I did a little bit of basketball. I almost felt like I had a very robotic lifestyle. Then in high school, I was able to break out of ballet, and for the first time I was able to emote my feelings. I realized my passion for dance in high school, and the first time I really cried was actually during a dance solo at a competition. I had never been able to show that vulnerability before that.

KS: What is something interesting about yourself?

SA: I always wish life was a musical. Like in the movie 500 Days of Summer, when Tom goes outside and everyone’s singing and dancing, I wonder how life would be like if there were always flash mobs everywhere all the time.

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    Asian Pacific-Islander Heritage Month (APIHM) is hosted by the Asian Pacific Student Association at UCI and features various programs, workshops, and events that celebrate the APIA culture and address pertinent issues in the APIA community.

    Please refer to the tabs above for more details regarding each event.

  • Contact Us

    Any inquiries regarding Asian Pacific-Islander Heritage Month can be directed to Programming Coordinators, Siamrath (Sam) Boonsakul and Alison Tominaga, at

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