For Onda Latina dance troupe leaders, Sasha and Stephan Lecorps, life is better in pairs. It's a sentiment that comes naturally with being a dancer—and with being an identical twin.
“It’s like having a homie for life," Sasha says on being a twin. "People say, ‘Oh, you always have someone to play with,’ when you’re younger, but...we’re kinda like the same person, so you kinda wanna be with other people.” The two erupt into laughter.
When the twins realized they would both attend Penn, they weren't interested in being attached at the hip. They strove to find their own niches on campus. Stephan explains that they only began living together during their junior year.
“So like generally, we lived apart because we wanted to become our own people," he says. "Some twins are into like being tighter all the time, in like a package, which isn’t necessarily a problem, but you know, we just wanted to try to be our own people, so…we didn’t live together freshman or sophomore year. We tried to branch out and make our own friends.”
Sasha chimes in, adding, “The best thing is when someone doesn’t know you’re a twin and gets surprised, and that means we did it right, we want to be our own people… I don’t want to be a package with him. No offense to him, but we wanna do our own thing.”
But try as they might, the two couldn’t really stay away from each other: after joining Onda their freshman year, the twins were thrown into not only a rigorous dance schedule, but also a close group of friends. While their proximity at Penn was unintended, they've benefited from keeping close.
"It’s also helpful seeing somebody else who’s going through similar experiences as you at the same time, and who is really like you," Sasha says. "Like things that were happening to me, he would take notice of and learn from them and vice–versa. So it’s kinda like a constant help,…someone to grow with.” Stephan agrees, explaining, “We also push each other, motivate each other, we’re even competitive against each other. Back in the day, if I saw him doing well in soccer, for example, I’d try to step my game up—not to match him but maybe, you know, be better than him. But yeah it’s a constant push. You have someone you can always relate to.”
Though Onda has definitely defined the twins’ Penn experiences, it was never something they foresaw themselves doing. Prior to Penn, the two had never seriously danced and didn't plan on starting at Penn, either. Sasha says that although the two don't identify as Latino, their Haitian heritage has given them access to the sort of music and dance that defines Onda Latina: “You know growing up, we went to like Haitian parties, and there’s a very specific kind of music with Haitian culture, and so we just used to dance at parties and American parties you know just like electric slide or cupid shuffle…In high school we didn’t dance.” Yet, thanks to a first cousin who was a senior on Onda’s board when the two were freshmen, the twins found themselves being roped into auditioning. Stephan says, “Since we’re twins, my cousin was just kinda like you’re both coming. I remember showing up late—I just did not want to try out. I showed up like 15–20 minutes late, I was just fooling around. And surprisingly, got through like call backs and then got in, and yeah, ever since it’s been our thing really. It’s been, you know, kind of like a surprising journey, but it’s been worth it because it opens you up to like a whole new world.”
Since then, Stephan has served on Onda’s board for three years and just finished his term as president. Sasha was on the board for two and served as both treasurer and social chair. Sasha jokes, “To me, Latin dance is very sensual. I guess for like guys at least, you’re not really used to moving your body like that—body rolling and moving your hips—but that’s part of it, it’s very sensual, very like sexy, I guess. There are a lot of benefits to learning how to dance like that.” Stephan rolls his eyes at his twin while the two laugh. Stephan agrees and continues to talk about how he’s grown from the physicality of this type of dance: “I learned that partner dancing also makes you less awkward. You know, you’re kind of in like close contact—you have to do it.”
The ending of their time in Onda is bittersweet. Stephan says, “Being president of Onda has taught me a lot about responsibility, how to manage people, but not like just managing people, it’s like not even to motivate them, but [making] them feel like everyone has an equal chance in the group. I think that’s an important part of being like a leader, within any kind of team.” Sasha agrees, adding, “I would definitely agree with him: making sure everyone feels empowered in the group to contribute because that’s very important so that everyone can grow. But I’ll also say that I guess like…wanting things for the right reasons for everyone and not just for yourself, because sometimes you do see that and it just kinda wreaks.”
The two close by discussing the importance of creativity, and they, as a last word of advice to any incoming freshman or confused underclassman at Penn, urge them to develop their creative side. Stephan says, “We weren’t exactly like sure what we wanted to do in Onda. I mean we got in and it was great, but we weren’t completely sure…I would say maybe for someone who wants to venture into performing arts, don’t be afraid to try new things, and if you’re like slightly uncomfortable it’s a good way for you to grow.”
Sasha adds, “My creative side is just as strong as my intellectual…You never know where it’s going to take you. You might learn something about yourself that you would never have learned before."
Stephan and Sasha in their own words:
Street: Describe the other twin.
Stephan: Sasha—I’ll say ridiculous…He talks a lot of shit—not about people or anything mean like that, but like he’ll just say some stupid shit all the time and… obviously a lot of people find it funny.
Sasha: Stephan is low–key. Stephan keeps a very like reserved image on the outside, but deep inside….he’s like me. He’ll say ridiculous stuff too, he just doesn’t say it out loud or in front of other people. He thinks it, or he’ll say it under his breath.
Street: Who’s the better dancer?
Sasha: No, that’s me!
Stephan: If you ask each each one of us we’re just going to say ourselves.
Street: Better fashion sense?
Sasha: That’s me.
Stephan: Yeah, Sasha dresses better than I do, but that’s because he cares more.
Sasha: You’re just a hater.
Stephan: So if you know us as people, it kinda reflects in our dressing style. Sasha’s a little more out there, he’ll wear more like lighter colors, like flamboyant clothes. While me, I’m a little more reserved…more neutral stuff. I'm just trying to chill.
Street: Cheetah Girls or Spice Girls?
Stephan: I would say Cheetah Girls…I watched a little bit of Raven back in the day.
Sasha: I would have to go with Spice Girls. Raven went off a little bit, Raven’s a little cuckoo. Adrienne is still one of my celebrity crushes…but Spice Girls are a classic.
Street: Do you sing in the shower? If so, what?
Sasha: Depends on what I’m feeling in the shower! I’d definitely say a lot of R&B… baby–making music I guess, but not like—
Stephan: —that sounded awkward—
Sasha: —That sounded very awkward. Not like that—
Stephan: —You see, ridiculous!
Sasha: I’m just trying to get clean, that’s all. I’m just taking a shower… I sing different stuff—hip–hop, R&B, soul music, jazz. My favorite artist is D’Angelo. I sing a lot of his songs in the shower. I’m a huge Miguel fan, Frank Ocean.
Stephan: I stay strictly R&B. I like Miguel, I like Frank Ocean, but I also like The Weeknd, Justin Timberlake, this Canadian group called The Vision.
Street: Go–to drunk food?
Sasha: Can’t go wrong with McDonald’s—quarter pounder with some fries and a medium Sprite, and then you regret it in the morning.
Stephan: I’ll say either 20–piece McNuggets, or you go to Wishbone and hit the dark meat and the mac and cheese.
Street: If you had to pick a type of cheese to match your personality, what would it be and why?
Sasha: Stephan is like cheddar or American...he’s safe. Stephan is reliable, trusted, practical, just like you know, safe choice. Get a burger with cheddar or American.
Stephan: I’ll say American because Sasha’s fake. No, I’m joking, hmm…I would say like a string cheese.
Sasha: Oh my god!
Stephan: No, I’m kidding. I would say I dunno like…a blue cheese. It doesn’t look that interesting, but then when you bite into it all of a sudden it’s like, who is this guy?
Street: Can you fit your fist in your mouth? Can you fit your fists in each others mouths?
Both: No no no no no.
Sasha: I never want to try that, either.
Street: There are two types of people at Penn…
Sasha: There are the shepherds and there are the blind sheep….
Street: Which one are you?
Sasha: I think we’re both shepherds. We see what people are doing and we’re like, ‘Why are you doing that?’ A lot of people do things like, you know, "I got an internship at BCG, and do this and that," and they’re unhappy, you know, we kinda notice it.
Stephan: There are those who do all the readings in class and those who don’t.
Street: Guilty pleasure?
Stephan: Candy…no no no, I like candy, but I love ice pops. When we go home our mom buys 48–72 ice pops and we knock em down in a few days. You gotta try it!
Sasha: My guilty pleasure? Well hmm…I’ll just go with ice pops, too.
Street: Most annoying habit of the other?
Sasha: For Stephan… hmm…he’s a loud chewer—yo, you can hear everything that’s going on, the molars are digging in, he’s chomping down there and you can hear it go right down his esophagus!
Stephan: I would say the same thing about him, but also his room isn’t very nice.
Sasha: Yeah, it’s pretty messy.
Stephan: It’s very messy.
Street: If you are what you eat, then you are:
Stephan: I eat a lot of mangoes.
Sasha: So you’re a mango?
Stephan: Yeah I’ll say that. I’m a mango.
Sasha: Chocolate. I love chocolate.