Helius opens the Dancefest 2024 on April 19 at Zoellner Arts Center. Helius is a multicultural dance team at Lehigh. (Junqi Cui/B&W Staff)

Harmony in Motion: Dancefest celebrates diversity through art


Movement and music filled Zoellner Arts Center on Friday night during the 13th annual Dancefest. The show featured 18 groups and a show-ending collaboration between Tumbao and Bad Company.

The theme of this year’s event was “Harmony in Motion,” and it was hosted by Lehigh After Dark and The Office of Student Involvement.

“Each of us enjoyed our moment in the spotlight,” Emmy Adler, ’24, co-captain of the Lehigh Dance Team, said.

Adler has been dancing since she was three years old and continued her dance career by joining the Lehigh Dance Team as soon as she came to Lehigh.

As a senior, this was Adler’s last Dancefest performance, and she said her team worked extremely hard for it.

The specific theme of the Lehigh Dance Team’s performance this year was “Around the World.” Dancers dressed up as flight attendants and “flew” around the world with the music.

“The music we chose includes a variety of cities and places, and it’s all from female singers,” Adler said. “We wanted to show female empowerment through our performance.”

Adivi Karawat, ’25, a member of Leela Indian Fusion Dance, said she believes each club showcases its culture through their creative dances.

The members of Leela started preparing for Dancefest before the semester began, Karawat said. The performance they delivered was a combination of memories and longing.

Karawat said the theme of Leela Fusion’s performance was “Weddings.” As former members of Leela have graduated from Lehigh and gotten married, the current members chose to honor them and implement Indian wedding dances to showcase their culture.

“Just like we are an Indian fusion dance team, I don’t think there is a need to compare (the dance groups) to each other,” Karawat said. “Everything is different, and I can see that each club puts in a lot of effort.”

Behind all the groups’ performances is hard work and practice.

“The work never really stops,” Bad Company’s captain Talley Lyons, ’25, said, “But everyone in the club is excited about it.”

Lyons said she has been a dancer for around 17 years, and as captain of Bad Company, she has worked to build a close-knit team. This has included finding a balance between the individual creativity of the members with the cohesiveness of the team, while also ensuring every audience member can enjoy their work.

“It’s very stressful, but when you’re on stage and you hear the crowd cheering, all the worry goes away and it’s just about having fun,” Lyons said.

The event lasted three hours and ended at 10 p.m., but audience enthusiasm didn’t dissipate with the show.

“It was such a passionate show, and I was transported to a party of dance, music and culture,” Ina Xu, ’25, said. “The people next to me were cheering so loud the whole time that their voices were hoarse.”

Xu said she is a big fan of Dancefest and attends the event every year. In the past, she chose to sit in the front row to watch the performance, but this year, she chose to sit in the middle of the theater and said she felt the passion of the dancers from the audience.

After the event ended, Xu said she couldn’t decide which performance was the best. She could only remember how the music and dance blew her away, pulling her out from the stress of her classes and finals.

“I can’t describe the immersive visual impact in words, but I know that Dancefest is definitely worth watching,” Xu said.

Bad Company performs at the Dancefest 2024 on April 19 at Zoellner Arts Center. Bad Company has been Lehigh’s urban dance and hip hop group since 2014. (Junqi Cui/B&W Staff)

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