In this March 29, 2017, file photo, members of the Latin Dance Club practice tango in Zoellner Arts Center. The club has previously performed in SPEC-SPEC, International Bazaar and Dance Fest. (Konka Shi/B&W Staff)

Lehigh dance groups to represent diverse cultures during DanceFest 9

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Lehigh’s ninth annual DanceFest will showcase a variety of dance groups across campus, many of which are culturally oriented, on March 23 in Baker Hall.

Marketing coordinator Praveen Joseph, ’20 said the inclusion of culture in the groups adds to the importance of the event.

“Culture brings a different perspective that you normally wouldn’t get,” Joseph said. “Dance is a medium that a lot of different cultures can relate to. It’s very creative so people have a lot of fun with it.”

Joseph said all groups on campus are given the opportunity to audition for a slot in DanceFest and a select number are given the chance to perform.

LU’s Finest Step Team is one of the groups performing at DanceFest 9. Member Mekhi Bryant, ’20, said the group’s diversity is what sets it apart from other teams, giving them a competitive edge.

“We have African American, Caucasian, Asian, Hispanics — it’s such a wide range,” Bryant said. “We also have both men and women, which brings an even greater sense of diversity.”

DanceFest is an important event for the dance groups involved. Every year the teams spend hours rehearsing  and perfecting their routines for the event.

This entails learning both the technical dances and their historical origins. 

“You have to know the routine, but also listen to everybody else, since stepping is based off of the rhythm and the beat,” Bryant said. “You have to hear where you should be coming in or what should be your next move so you have to listen to the count.”

Bryant said although the crowd may think a group’s routine looks impressive, the amount of work that goes into polishing the performance might not be evident.

Isabel Madrigal, ’20, said the African Renaissance dance team uses rehearsal as a chance to educate members about the origin of the dance moves they use in their routines. The group’s hip-hop-inspired movements accompanied by songs by African artists creates their personal style.

“(Our coach) tells us, ‘This is a move from South Africa,’ or ‘This is a move from Ghana,’ and that’s how we learn, little by little,” Madrigal said. “But it’s all infused together to make it more fun.”

LU’s Finest Step Team and African Renaissance dance team both look forward to DanceFest as a way to share their passion with the audience.

“I want audience members to walk away with a curiosity,” Madrigal said. “I want them to feel like we’re having fun and then in turn want to also learn and have fun themselves. I want people to look at us and think ‘That’s really cool, I want to learn more.’”

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