201 E Chapman Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832


201 E Chapman Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832


201 E Chapman Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832


Fares choreographs her own adoption story

Fall Dance Concert showcases student choreography
Josie Lee
Advanced Dance and Dance Production, as well the Ladera Vista dance team and OC Hip-Hop group G-Train, will be performing in the annual Fall Dance concert tonight and Friday at 7 p.m. in the auditorium. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for students. Tickets are available at the door or online at fuhs.booktix.com.

Senior’s adoption story inspires her dance

Senior Jojo Fares is a master storyteller. She loves to write and act, but Jojo’s best art comes through her insightful choreography.

Even as a freshman, Jojo was invited to choreograph a piece for an FUHS online dance show. As a sophomore, she choreographed a hip hop dance called “Office Chaos” featuring the song “Start a Riot” by Duckwrth and Shaboozey. The piece displayed the frustrations of working a 9-to-5 office job. Her junior year she used the TV show “Squid Game” for inspiration. She approaches the violent and controversial themes of the show through dance in a way most do not.

Denise and Sean Fares adopted Jojo when she was an infant in China. Her sister Sarah (right) was 14 at the time of the adoption. Jojo tried to play softball like her sister, but dance was a much better fit. (Photo courtesy of Jojo Fares)

This year, however, instead of telling other people’s stories, Jojo’s telling her own story with the contemporary piece “Connected by a Red Thread” with Son Lux’s alternative/indie record “Your Day Will Come”.

The story of the red thread comes from Chinese folklore. The story claims that there is an invisible red thread that connects people that are destined to meet, no matter the distance. The dance tells the story of  Jojo’s life and how she was brought to the United States where she lives with her adoptive parents, Sean and Denise Fares. Sean flew to China to take home Jojo when she was an infant. 

The Fares family was blessed with a healthy child who would later start dancing at CF Dance Academy in Fullerton at age 7. Jojo learned different styles of dance, excelling especially in hip hop. She advanced through dance levels quickly, even earning a spot as an understudy for one of their more advanced hip hop groups, “K-Motion,” when she was 10. According to fellow dancer Ava Casas, who also attended CF Dance, Jojo was particularly impressive because she had the determination to give it her all even though she was considered an understudy. That determination was recognized and she earned a regular spot on the team.

Jojo utilized color symbolism when costuming herself and her dancers. “Avery Hung (pictured) is wearing red which in China represents good luck and happiness. This is ironic because leaving your baby isn’t really happy, but I like to hope that my parents gave me away out of hope that my life would be better rather than that they just didn’t want me.” (Photo by Josie Lee)

She drew people in with her passionate performance, always being the person you could spot in a group. Her dedication to her craft led her to become one of three freshmen to join Fullerton High School’s Dance Production. Even when she was a freshman she was making her mark, having her choreographed pieces presented in both the Fall and Spring Dance Concerts. 

Despite her accomplishments, Jojo has struggled with her identity as a Chinese American with white parents. “Just figuring out who I am is tough because I’ve always felt like I wasn’t Asian enough and I wasn’t American enough,” Jojo said. “I guess it’s just an identity crisis.”

Jojo says she’s had support at home and from friends, including senior Avery Hung, whose family occasionally invites her out for Chinese dinner.

“I went to an adoption camp two years ago, and I’ve really worked on developing and growing into my own skin,” Jojo said. “I’ve realized that it’s okay that I don’t always feel in place because I just have to be myself.”

Her piece in tonight’s dance concert acknowledges that she has a home in two different worlds, her Chinese one with her biological parents, and her American one with her adoptive parents. 

She says her adoptive mother, Denise Fares, gave her inspiration to do this dance piece because she was the one who told her about the folklore. “My mom has told me this my entire life,” she said. “She likes to tell me that we were connected by a red thread from two opposite sides of the world and that’s how she found me.”

Her dance is a thank you to her adoptive parents who took her into their lives and have given her the life she has now. 

While this piece tells her story she also made this piece as a way to showcase her growth. While Jojo has excelled in hip hop, she admits to having trouble with was contemporary style dance. 

In addition to her contemporary trio, Jojo choreographed a hip-hop piece titled “Celebrity Sighting” featuring songs “Pose” by Yo Gotti and Lil Uzi Vert and “Cypher” by XG. The dance highlights two celebrities who are chased by the paparazzi. They have different styles of hip hop; however, in the end, it is revealed that they were best friends. The dance showcases the difficulty of having female friendships in a very competitive industry. (Photo by Josie Lee)

“I’ve always been worse at technical styles of dance because it is what I trained the least in. I started ballet and contemporary dance really late compared to my hip hop, and I’ve never really been comfortable with it.”

When she was choreographing the piece she referred to it in three parts. 

“The first is kind of slower or at least a little softer giving it a more somber tone to represent more sadness,” Jojo said. “The next section is the second half of my solo part which is kind of a little more desperate and unstable. I like to think about it as my time in middle school and before adoption camp when I struggled tremendously without feeling like I could ask for support. And the trio choreo is desperate but kind of more like I’m struggling but my parents are behind me backing me up. I end hugging both moms because I realize I can be in touch with both of my identities and my parents even if I don’t have two out of the four in my life.”

Jojo’s choice of costumes support the theme of her piece. 

When creating her contemporary piece Jojo chose a rope to symbolize the red thread connecting her biological mother and adoptive mother. She displays her connection being transferred from one mother to the other by passing the rope from Avery Hung (center) to Romi Bruschke (left). (Photo by Jonathan Piña-Villanueva).

“Avery [Hung] is wearing red which in China represents good luck and happiness. This is ironic because leaving your baby isn’t really happy, but I like to hope that my parents gave me away out of hope that my life would be better rather than that they just didn’t want me. Romi [Bruschke], as my adoptive mom, is wearing white which is kind of pure and happy showing that her love and intentions are pure when they took me in. And I’m wearing white over red undergarments to represent the combination of both of them because I am made of both my American and Chinese identity.”

She uses a red rope as her symbol of the red string. Avery hands the rope over to Romi in a symbolic gesture of Jojo being passed from one mother to another. 

Jojo remembers learning that her dance piece made it through the audition process. She says that FUHS dance teacher Andrea Oberlander told her how happy she was that Jojo had decided to do a contemporary piece. Oberlander said it showcased Jojo’s growth as a dancer because she was comfortable enough to branch out. 

Jojo hopes to attend either Cal Poly San Luis Obispo or Cal State San Marcos for college. She plans to double major in business and dance. 

Aleah Crew

Sophomore Aleah Crew (center) portrays the importance of keeping a secret in her dance “Are You That Somebody” named after the artist Aaliyah’s song. ”This concept is very valuable to a lot of people I know and my family values. If someone would tell me something, I would tell the whole world when I was younger, but I found this ruining a lot of relationships in my life.” (Jonathan Piña-Villanueva)

Andromeda Bruschke

Sophomore Andromeda Bruschke (center) choreographed the lyrical group piece “Dear John” named after the Taylor Swift song she picked. She knew she wanted to choreograph a dance to Swift’s song from the first time she heard it in the new album Speak Now (Taylor’s Version). “My dance conveys a feeling I would describe as ‘teen angst’; feeling young and stupid and basically like you always should have known better. When I first heard this song the repetition of the line “I should have known” and the message associated with it really stood out to me and truly inspired me to create this piece. This message is something I can certainly relate to and I think almost everyone can relate to,” Bruschke said. “I really hope this dance is a way for my dancers and I to let out all out emotions and just feel good.” (Jonathan Piña-Villanueva and Josie Lee)

Rio Gomez

Sophomore  Rio Gomez’s tap dance “Speed Demon” was inspired by cutting contests. Tap dancers try to one-up each other in their improvisational skills, and it makes the environment competitive and tense, yet exhilarating to see what choices people make. Gomez (left) took more of a conceptual approach. While a cutting contest has no music, she based her dance around the song “Speed Demon” by Michael Jackson. Gomez felt it represented the mood she wanted to convey. (Jonathan Piña-Villanueva)

Grace Dykes

Senior and Dance Production captain Grace Dykes stepped out of her comfort zone. Instead of her usual hip hop choreography, she embraced her jazz piece “Dream Within a Dream,” a tribute to Britney Spears. It is inspired by Spears’s 2001 “Dream Within a Dream Tour” especially her iconic performance when she performed her song “Slave 4 U” with a snake around her neck. (Jonathan Piña-Villanueva)

Reporters Alicia Bennett, Audrina Quinonez, Evelyn Ishikawa, Josie Lee, Katherine Martinez, Sofia Tabbal and Jonathan Pina Villanueva contributed to this story.

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