From hip hop to African dance, approximately 15 dance groups of various styles are preparing to showcase their talents at this year’s DanceFest.
DanceFest, which is in its sixth year at Lehigh, will take place April 3. The annual event brings together dance groups from Lehigh and the local area for a performance. The dancers have been dedicating their time and efforts for the last three months to put a show together to entertain and display their passion for dance.
Ralph Jean-Noel, ’15, is this year’s co-director for show development, but has been involved in DanceFest since he was a first-year student by helping backstage. He will be dancing for the first time this year, which he said was one of his goals to complete before he graduates this year.
“I just really want to emphasize the energy and involvement of all dance crews has been some of the highest and most dynamic that I have seen this year,” he said. “Everyone seems to be excited and involved and are really taking this event and making it their own. It’s empowering and unifying to the Lehigh community and great to see so many students taking ownership and leadership in making this event a success.”
Janysa Morales, ’16, said she has been involved in DanceFest since she was a first-year student. She has both worked backstage and performed, leaving her with the full experience of everything that goes into putting together this dance-filled night.
“I think Dance Fest is a supportive and creative outlet for people who love to dance or just want to show what they can do,” Morales said.
Dara Lakin, ’17, who is part of the hip hop dance crew “Bad Company,” said she is counting down the days to the event. For the last five weeks she has spent her Saturdays and Sundays practicing.
“It’s a great way for people to appreciate dance and what it can do because it’s a great way for people to express themselves however they want because you can’t really do anything wrong,” Lakin said.
Performer Erica Kier, ’17, also said the event provides the campus with a sense of unity and brings together many cultures, such as the Leela Indian dance group. She said the event allows for the cultures to collaborate and promote diversity.
Jean-Noel also noted that this year’s performance will feature more groups than year’s past, and he hopes a lot of Lehigh students come out to the show so DanceFest can keep growing and continue to unite Lehigh with the Bethlehem community.
Although the dancers are excited about the event, they said they are also nervous about the turnout due to timing. Kier said she is worried because both Passover and Easter occur the weekend of the event. She said that even if the event organizers and performers advertise a lot, the event is still occurring on a holiday, which may affect audience numbers.
The dancers continue to work hard despite any chances of a poor turnout. Some dancers said they hope for the event to be something like last year’s DanceFest, which garnered a huge audience.
In addition to seeing dancers from Lehigh’s community, DanceFest also brings guest performers from groups featured on TV dance competitions such as America’s Best Dance Crew. This year, DanceFest will feature a performance from Blueprint Cru, a group from America’s Best Dance Crew. Jean-Noel said Born into the Arts, a local dance group, and Movement Inspired, a dance group from San Diego, will also make appearances at this year’s show.
Morales said the opportunity to connect with other people who love to dance, including performers other than Lehigh students, is one of the best reasons to attend.
“I’ve met some dancers I idolize through DanceFest, so this opportunity is definitely not one to be missed,” she said.
DanceFest will take place in Baker Hall in Zoellner Arts Center on April 3. The cost of a ticket will be $5 and tickets are available to be purchased ahead of time online. An after party will be held at the Comfort Suites on Third Street after the show.