It Begins with you

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Erin Baskin, A choreographer for the YWD Dance group
Interview by Peggy Chen

After the YWD Dance Group rehearsal ended on May 21, 2006, everyone headed to the Main Gohonzon room for the wrap-up session. I didn’t have a chance to speak to Erin Baskin, who is helping to teach the YWD Dance Group, until a few days later.

At the first rehearsals, she said, the dancers were split up according to ability then re-grouped more evenly. They had read President Ikeda’s poem “To My Beloved Young American Friends,” and each group choreographed to the portion of the poem that it found most meaningful. In this way, Erin said, “each group’s passage is interwoven into the whole choreography.”

She and Sara Robledo, the YWD Dance Group leader, have many goals for the dancers towards this festival. Among them are for the dancers to “build confidence in their personal lives, to strengthen their Buddhist practice, and, most importantly, [for] everyone to overcome obstacles.”

As if those goals aren’t lofty enough, they have high expectations of each YWD to “step out of [her] comfort zone” in terms of her ability to dance. The group is working for the beginners to develop the confidence to assist others and for the more advanced dancers to serve as mentors to the beginners.

Erin has had more dance training than some of her group members, but this activity would also be “challenging” for her as well. “I haven’t choreographed in years,” she said. “I really want to build up my choreography experience again.”

She also wants to conquer her shyness about public speaking through this activity. “People say I’m boisterous, [but] when I have to speak in a group, even if it’s only four people, I get the jitters. I want to overcome my nervousness.”

"I really want to try to connect one-on-one with the YWD in the dance group. I know I won’t have a lot of interaction with them after the festival, because a lot of them are from [Long Island Queens Region, and I’m not]. [I want to use this activity to] chant for others more, to intensify my study and chanting.”

With all the noble goals that she has created for herself and the dance group and her pure-hearted sincerity, she has, in my mind, already begun to win many victories.


Journal 1 (April 23)
Journal 2 (May 14)
Journal 3 (May 21)
Journal 4 (June 11)
Journal 5 (June 18)
Journal 6 (June 25)
Journal 7 (July 1st)
July 8th & 9th
July 15th
July 16th

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April 23rd
May 14th
May 21st
June 11th
June 18th
June 25th (Teens)
June 25th
July 1st (Teens)
July 8th & 9th
July 15th