Student Spotlight: Lam Son Nguyen

September 22, 2021

Lam Son Nguyen is a celebrity in his native Vietnam and was often recognized when walking down the street. Looking for a quiet place to focus on his work as a dancer, Nguyen relocated to the South Bay and can now dance in the street without being noticed. 

The dance major enrolled in El Camino College in spring 2017, a couple of years after becoming the 2015 champion of Vietnam’s reality TV show “So You Think You Can Dance.” He was just 20 years old when he won the competition and though he wasn’t ready for the notoriety associated with the victory, it made him determined to take dance seriously.

“I’m very proud of my work on the TV show, but I decided that I had to develop my art,” he said. “I needed to go somewhere where no one knew me so I could just learn. That’s when I came to El Camino, and it has been amazing. The most important thing is that I can grow and be myself.”

At ECC, Nguyen found opportunities to try many new things. One highlight was representing El Camino at the world-renowned Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in Massachusetts last summer. He also presented a solo at the prestigious 2019 American College Dance Association’s Baja Conference, earning his first standing ovation. His second solo at ACDA earlier this year was chosen for the National College Dance Festival. 

“Being at El Camino, I am happy and on the right track with my art,” he said. “Professor Liz Hoefner Adamis said that I was put here to be myself, so that’s what I am doing. I create a lot of dance pieces. They are growing and becoming more effective. It has been an amazing journey.”

The El Camino classes are Nguyen’s first formal training. He started dancing with friends in his hometown neighborhood, learning as he went and refining his style along the way. The teens competed in underground contests and soon after, Nguyen auditioned for “So You Think You Can Dance.” He enjoys hip-hop, locking, breaking, house, and crunk, but popping is his specialty.

This style is showcased in his new composition “Sunrise on Red,” which recently won Most Original Movement in the online Dare to Dance in Public Film Festival. His dance features El Camino College and the surrounding area in the background and was screened at the famed REDCAT Theater in Los Angeles, another career highlight. Nguyen plans to transfer to San Francisco State University in the fall to continue his studies in dance.

“I feel ready to grow even more. The El Camino Dance Department has the most kind, thoughtful and experienced teachers who allowed me to be myself,” he said. “They gave me the just right tools to develop, and I have seen my creativity grow. I’m proud to be a student at El Camino, and I am really honored to be a part of the dance department.”