Students discover passion for dance on campus

Angela Lim, Life & Arts General Reporter

While crowds of students hurry down Speedway trying to get to class, Zack Zhang puts his earbuds in and immerses himself into the rhythm and groove of a new song, his arms flowing with each beat as he walks.

“It’s just how I move now,” said Zhang, an arts and entertainment technologies senior. “It’s just natural to me. It’s second nature.”

Although such a movement comes easy to him now, Zhang only began dancing in college. After receiving encouragement from friends and seeing them perform, he decided to try it out for himself. He eventually became heavily involved in the UT dance community, a vibrant space that welcomes dancers of all skill levels to connect over a shared interest.

“One of my friends invited me to her performance,” Zhang said. “I went there and saw them doing a K-pop dance, and I was like, ‘They look really cool. I wanna look cool.’ So, I started to go to dance workshops.”

As Zhang continued to explore modern dance styles, such as popping and krumping, he started teaching his own choreography to other students through dance organization sponsored workshops, such as Barkada and ATX The Space. Last winter, he and other dancers founded a new group dedicated to freestyle called Disconnect Crew.

“The more I started making choreography and asking people about their processes, the more experience I got, and I felt like I was actually giving something to somebody,” Zhang said.

Exercise science senior Elijah Pesudas said he wanted to start dancing his freshman year after seeing others perform at Unity, an event where dance organizations all over campus come to showcase their skills. He said he prefers learning choreography over foundations and freestyle.

This semester, Pesudas decided to audition for Redefined Dance Company, a hip hop-based competitive UT team, where the social and community aspects drew him in.

“Dance is a form of self-expression, and I just love watching people dance and how they interpret music,” Pesudas said. “It’s cool to connect with people who have different outlooks and perspectives on life, like so many people in dance have majors I’ve never heard of … The biggest reason I like dance (is that) it’s inclusive and you learn a lot.”

After watching her peers enjoy dancing, sociology fifth-year student Allison Li said she felt more motivated to start dancing too. She said she started out by watching YouTube tutorials. After much practice, she was accepted into ATX KDC, a K-pop dance cover group, during her second semester at UT.

“That experience (when) dancing with people slowly builds up your confidence, and you become a little more comfortable with it,” Li said. “And at that point, (during my) sophomore year … I started feeling more like I was part of the dancing community.”

Li said she understands the insecurities students can have, especially those who just started learning an unfamiliar skill later on in their lives. She encourages everyone to be open to new opportunities.

“The biggest block in trying new things is probably yourself,” Li said. “After this experience, I really learned that even if you’re not naturally talented, pretty much everybody can get to a point where they can enjoy what they want to try out.”