Student organizations mix traditional and modern dance

Karla Romero

On one side of the room, hip-hop plays over speakers. On the other, drums beat to the rhythm of a traditional lion dance. 

Events + Entertainment Asian American Culture hosted approximately 50 students at Dance SensAsian, an event meant to combine traditional Asian dance styles with more modern styles. The event is the first official showcase of Asian interest dance groups at UT. 

“The whole idea is to bridge cultural dance and modern dance between the Asian communities here at UT and within the community,” event co-coordinator Cathleen Joy Fuertes said. “By modern we mean like hip-hop, pop, contemporary — less traditional.”

Once the event began, the ballroom was split into two. On one side members of Texas Dragon/Lion Dance Team and Team Wushu taught traditional performances, such as the choreography aspect of martial arts taught by the latter. On the other side of the room, Dancing for a Cause and Korean Dance Crew taught more contemporary routines. 

“I think Asian Americans need a little bit more representation in the public eye (such as in) politics, art, etc.,” said David Cha, vice president of Dancing for a Cause, and arts and entertainment technologies sophomore.

Zilei Chen, medical laboratory science freshman, attended the event to fulfill the social dancing requirement for her Undergraduate Studies class, Dancing America. Chen said her professor told her class that they could choose to dance anywhere to fulfill this requirement, but Chen decided to come to Dance SensAsian in order to learn. 

“My friend told me about this event,” Chen said. “Plus, it’s an opportunity for me to get the social dancing requirement done early … I’m going to all of (the workshops) … Dancing is very interesting. I cannot dance, (and) that’s why I’m here, learning.” 

Though students sat outside the ballrooms in the Student Activity Center waiting for the event to begin, more continued showing up throughout the night, joining the dance workshops as they came in. Following the workshops were performances by each of the groups who taught a workshop, as well as a presentation by soloist Zein Tao. Architectural engineering freshman Tao performed a traditional Mongolian dance which included modern twists.

“It’s kind of the whole idea that we’re trying to connect the two,” psychology senior Fuertes said. “Or at least trying to make people more open to it.”

The performances were followed by a dance-off that included prizes.