Members of the dance group Tumbao perform on stage in Baker Hall during DanceFest XI on April 1. Tumbao is a Latin-Carribean fusion dance team that aims to engage the Lehigh community in different styles of dance. (Sam Barney-Gibbs/BW Staff)

Dancefest makes a smooth return after two year hiatus


Dancefest, in its 11th year at Lehigh, featured performances from 14 Lehigh dance groups including Helius, Bad Company and others, at Zoellner Arts Center on April 1. The popular Lehigh event was canceled the last two years due to COVID-19. 

The Office of Student Engagement and Office of Multicultural Affairs co-hosted the event, advertised as “back and better than ever.”

Lehigh’s Belly Dance Club performs on stage at Baker Hall during Dancefest XI on April 1. Dancefest is an annual recital for all of the dance groups on campus. (Sam Barney-Gibbs/BW Staff)

Nick Christy, assistant director for programming and student center facilities, planned the event alongside Chris Rodriguez, graduate assistant for the Office of Multicultural Affairs. 

Christy said the process of planning for Dancefest began in January so they could determine schedule logistics with Zoellner and each dance group. 

To perform at Dancefest, each group was required to send in their dance mix and introduction video for their performance to be reviewed and accepted. All groups had rehearsals before the event to run through their performance and practice spacing on the Baker Hall stage.

Jie Lin, ‘22, co-president of Helius, said while the group typically meets once or twice a week during the semester, they met four times a week to prepare for Dancefest.

The Lehigh University Dance Team poses after their performance during Dancefest XI in Baker Hall on April 1. Dancefest is an annual showcase for all of the dance groups on Lehigh’s campus. (Gary Fan/BW Staff)

Helius, a multi-cultural dance group on campus specializing  in hip hop, jazz and K-pop choreographies, brought Chinese elements into their Dancefest performance.

“We were trying to merge all cultures together and combine them to make the performance look better,” Lin said.

Penny Demetriades, ‘22, president and captain of Bad Company – a group featuring urban and hip hop dance – said executive board members choose a theme to focus on each semester to represent in their dances. This semester, they focused on female artists to celebrate 50 years of women at Lehigh, which they incorporated into their production. 

“I really like getting the crowd hyped,” Demetriades said. “When we go and we do a certain move and we know that it’s going to make the crowd shout for us and get the crowd excited, that’s what we are there for.” 

Christy said Dancefest served as the spring semester dance showcase, compared to FUSION, the fall semester event. Most of the 14 groups performed in both. 

Mary Ye, ‘23, an attendee, said her favorite part of the event was seeing the intermission dance-off between five audience members on stage. The five participants improvised dance moves to music and the audience chose the winner. 

A performer dances on the stage during the Dancefest in Baker Hall on April 1. Dancefest is hosted by the office of student and multicultural engagement. (Gary Fan/BW Staff)

“I haven’t seen many Lehigh events this year,” Ye said. “(Dancefest) was an opportunity to see more of the Lehigh community and the different things that go on. It was great to see the performers having fun.”

As their last major performance with their respective groups, Demetriades and Lin hoped the audience was inspired by each of the performances, especially after a two year hiatus. 

Christy said Dancefest is a great way to see students in a different setting. 

“There’s so much depth to this university and to our students, and the talent runs so deep and so strong,” Christy said. “There are things that we don’t even know until we discover them through these types of events.”

The Helius dance group performs on the stage during Dancefest in Baker Hall at Zoellner Arts Center on April. Dancefest is hosted by the office of student and Multicultural engagement. (Gary Fan/BW Staff)

Rodriguez said the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Office of Student Engagement have always had a collaborative relationship with event planning and fostering relationships between students and their cultures.

“Both of our main goals have always been to build that relationship and to bring in that fellowship and community building among our students and within our campus,” Rodriguez said. “One of the neat ways that we found this is through Dancefest and just bringing people together.”

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