Pioneer Web Profile: Sophomore Umair Meredia Dances into the Spotlight

Step One (Meredia bottom right) after winning Walla Walla’s Best Dance Crew. Photo contributed by Meredia

As captain of Whitman dance club Step One, it is no surprise that sophomore Umair Meredia enjoys dancing. The Pioneer had the opportunity to spend some time with him in his room on the third floor of the Phi house. Zebra-print soft blankets cover the couch and the floor, so soft color-changing light reflects nicely on the white part between the stripes. An interesting Buddha tapestry is on the ceiling. His good friend and co-member of Step One, Alejandro Fuentes, is also here. As we hung out in his man cave, we chatted about room decor, dancing and being an amateur masseuse.

Pio: Wow, it’s so nicely decorated in here! The garlands and Christmas lights look lovely!
Umair Meredia: Yeah, Chef Bob did an awesome job. He decorated the whole house during Thanksgiving break. I was here, but was gone during the day so didn’t really get to help him or see it done. It looks great, though.

Pio: Chef Bob must really love you guys.
UM: Yeah, he’s the best, we love him.

Pio: Let’s get down to business: When did you first begin your dancing career?
UM: I started when I was in fifth grade; going to dances was the fun thing to do for my friends. I had no idea how to dance, so I hated going. So I told myself that Imma learn how to dance so I can have fun. I watched Youtube videos to learn how to dance, and once I started, I couldn’t stop. I ended up learning some different styles and dancing as much I as could. Ever since I came to Whitman, I became part of a dance group. Before that I did solos and danced for myself.

Pio: So when did you begin dancing for Step One?
UM: At the beginning of last year, I wanted to dance, so I joined Dance Team. That’s when I met Surahbi [Veenapani '12]. She introduced me to the other original members of Step One. Watching them dance and sing made me want to be a part of it, so I asked them how to join. That’s when they decided to have tryouts. I auditioned and got in. I was super happy and it was a big moment for me. Ever since, I have been going hard for Step One. Last year, I was the newbie that did everything 100 percent because I didn’t want to mess up. That’s how they gave me the name Dedication, because I gave it my all, all the time.

Meredia and Al-Rahim Merali ’12 dance at Holi. Photo contributed by Meredia

Pio: This year, now that most of the crew have graduated, what has your experience on Step One been like?
UM: It used to be made of Whitman kids and a few townies. Now it’s 50-50 because of the people that graduated. Everyone in it now has only one year of experience, including me. They named me captain and I have all this pressure to make gigs, choreograph, and I’ve only been doing it for one semester. It’s been difficult but good. It’s more of a family … than a dance group. [The other members] help me out in terms of choreography and share the workload.

Pio: So I have heard about your massage talents. Where did you learn how to give such great massages?
UM: I worked unofficially for a chiropractor when I was 16, he’s my friend’s dad. I worked there for two summers.

Pio: How did you gain the knowledge when you were working there?
UM: He would explain what he’s doing and why while demonstrating on a client. He let me practice on people who agreed to it. I learned how to do it from practice, but I had to learn the theory first. When giving massages, you have to know the muscles and which way the muscle fibres grow. When you push the same direction as they run, then they relax and the knot can be undone. Just pushing down on a knot feels bad and doesn’t get it out.
Alejandro Fuentes: [Interruption] Yeah, when I get a massage from someone who sucks, I just wanna get up and do it myself.

(From left) Veenpani, Meredia and Fuentes take a smile break for the camera. Photo contributed by Meredia

Pio: Alejandro, How would you describe Umair’s presence on Step One?
AF: He has a big passion for dancing. B weyi ['12] saw it and knew that he was a good choice for continuing the group. It’s especially good because he’s not a senior.




Filed under: A&E A&E Highlight

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