Vinita Singh brings Indian classical dance to Ames

From observing her guinea pig’s blinking habits to preparing for a zombie apocalypse, junior Vinita Singh is always busy doing something. She came to Ames in her freshman year, has already taken six AP courses, is always decked out in fashionably eclectic garb and has a generally cheerful outlook on life. Vinita also gets in touch with her ethnic roots by participating in a lesser known pastime. “I do Indian classical dance.” Vinita said. “My dad’s Indian and he just wanted me to connect with my heritage. There’s really intricate costumes, and unlike other types of dancing, especially dancing that’s from the western world, there’s actually hand motions and really [complicated] footwork.” Vinita started dancing 9 years ago in Massachusetts and has already graduated to the level of guru. Unfortunately, people here in Iowa don’t do much Indian classical dance, and most don’t have the slightest idea what it is. “I used to dance a lot.” Vinita said. “There was a really big Indian community in New England, so they’d ask us to come to all these different places. It was kind of tiring because it takes a long time for the make-up and costumes. Especially when I was little [because] my mom didn’t know how to do make-up. It’d take one or two hours and I’d end up dancing for five minutes and then it’d be over. Kind of anticlimactic.” Indian classical dance is no after dinner stroll in Ada Hayden. Apparently there’s a lot of “jumping around,” enough for it to be Vinita’s only source of exercise. “It was really hard because there are different positions, like in ballet.” Vinita said. “You have to get used to [the positions] and your muscles have to get really, really strong, but after that it’s not so hard. I don’t really do it that much now though, because it’s not like I’m going to fly out to Massachusetts every week to get lessons from my teacher.” Already an Indian Classic Dancing guru at the age of sixteen, one might wonder what other things young Vinita does in her spare time. “I actually used to play the cello.” Vinita said. “Then I switched to the saxophone, but then I found out that blowing into saxophones kind of hurts my head. A lot. I just wasn’t very good at it. I guess I don’t have very good lung capacity.” Her musical career cut short, Vinita has moved onto other activities at Ames High, including working to become a quality debater and maintaining a steady 4.0. Born near St. Petersburg, Russia, Vinita first came to the States when her father landed a job in Oregon. Moving from there to Texas, then Massachusetts, and then finally to Ames, Vinita’s life has been a whirlwind of mobility. Although it’s a happy thing that her dad now works as a biologist at ISU, she still can’t say she enjoys being a nomad. "I don’t really like the moving thing." Vinita said. "It’s really hard, especially as you get older, to make friends. The people that you [meet], not only have they had friends for longer, but it’s hard to get into those cliques." One might infer that Vinita has a hard time making friends, but that is far from the truth. She was an active participant in several clubs last year, including Science Olympiad, and caught the eye of one of Ames High’s studliest Asian males. That’s right, Lawrence Chiou, physics phenomenon and bringer of indescribably good asian gourmet lunches, asked her to Prom ’09. What follows is an exclusive insider’s description of L. Chowder’s Prom experience. "Um…It was fun…" Vinita said of Prom. "Lawrence was nice except for when he was shooting spitballs at people in the middle of the restaurant, that was not so good. And then he said Gertrude ( not her real name ) looked like a porn star. He was just high off of, I don’t know, something. But I’m pretty sure he took some red bulls too, he was really energetic." If anyone has ever been privileged with a face-to-face encounter with the Law, one would quickly discover that it’s difficult to maintain a conversation lasting more than two minutes. He’s a busy man, with the ability to recall obscure facts about Asian desserts, 17th century composers and Norse mythology all in the time it takes for you to read this sentence. One has to bring up significantly interesting matters to guarantee a proper two-way conversation. Otherwise it just turns into a rapid monologue. It’s hard, but somehow Vinita found a way. "He always goes off randomly to someone else [while you’re talking to him.]" Vinita said. "It’s just whoever catches his attention and keeps it for the longest. He’s really nice though (if you’re reading this Lawrence)." With so many things going on at once, it’s hard to find an adequate description of Vinita. She loves fashion design, but knowing it’s not quite practical, aspires instead to study history at Brown University. Zombie-obssessed yet also the loving owner of a guinea pig that sleeps with its eyes open, Vinita just isn’t the type of person who can be summed up in a word. Instead she was kind enough to provide a self-description: "Life and Lawrence." she said, half-jokingly. "That’s what I’m about."