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Dance clubs at ASU find different ways to keep their community active

With COVID-19 regulations limiting space at the SDFC, dance clubs have had to get creative and find other ways to conduct their meetings


"You might imagine socially-distanced ballerinas wearing masks when you think of dancing during COVID, but the hip-hop and modern dance groups of ASU face bigger logistical hurdles than just social distancing." Illustration published on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021.

While COVID-19 has halted the possibility of many in-person meetings and interactions for ASU clubs and organizations, dance and performance clubs at the University have had an especially hard time adjusting to the virtual world.

Many clubs previously used ASU’s Sun Devil Fitness Complex, but due to the pandemic, it has been inaccessible for much of 2020 and is now reopened with strict guidelines. Instead, dance clubs have had to get creative in order to keep their members active, conducting virtual challenges, creating Discord servers and renting studio spaces to continue dancing and stay connected.

Makenna Littell, a junior studying business sustainability and president of Hip Hop Coalition at ASU, said the group resorted to online club meetings initially back in spring 2020.

“We kind of just continued to meet with our team through Zoom,” Littell said. “Just because we have a really strong sense of community and that was a social outlet that we really needed, especially in such a difficult time.”

As the fall semester started, Littell said HHC started having conversations about returning to in-person meetings, specifically for its open dance classes, and is now having classes at a studio off campus.

“We wanted to keep having open classes because (the) Hip Hop Coalition is not just a part of the ASU community, but the Arizona dance community as well,” Littell said. “We were kind of following the lead of other dance groups and choreographers in the area. A lot of people were renting out studio spaces with very limited class sizes in order to reduce the spread (of COVID-19).”

Like HHC, many other dance clubs have moved their classes online but have not rented out studio spaces or off-campus dance rooms.

KoDE, short for K-Pop Dance Evolution, is a K-Pop dance club at ASU. The club's meetings have been conducted completely online since March of last year.

Anahi Montes Lima, a senior studying psychology and Spanish and president of KoDE, said it was hard to deal with the initial shock of moving online, especially since they had a lot of performances planned, but they came up with creative ways to keep their members engaged.

“We started a Discord server, that way we could get people to join us and still talk to each other while being safe at home,” Lima said. “During the summer, we did a challenge on Instagram where our members would record themselves dancing to a song for every corresponding letter of the alphabet with the tag #KAtoZchallenge, and that went really well and kept us motivated as a club.”

Lima said KoDE has not considered renting off-campus studio space.

“Unfortunately for us, we don’t have as much funding as other organizations, so we couldn’t really rent out a place,” Lima said. “We also wanted to be respectful of our members because we knew some of them weren’t very comfortable meeting up in person, so we decided to keep having our meetings online.”

AZNA Dance, an Asian-American hip-hop and R&B dance club at ASU, has remained online for the past year but plans to transition into in-person meetings with its performance team soon, according to AZNA President Katrina Santos. Like KoDE, AZNA Dance has a Discord server where group chats and calls are conducted for new members to get to know one another.

Santos, a junior studying materials science and engineering, said the club is currently holding performance team auditions online and is in the process of determining the safest way to rehearse in person. 

“Once the performance team is formed, one of the first meetings we’re going to have is asking them how comfortable they are meeting in person,” Santos said. After that meeting, they will figure out how to move forward from there.

"We have been in contact with the SDFC to see how meetings would work once they open back up," Santos said. "Hopefully we will have some sense of normalcy either from like a general meeting with a choreographer, or just maybe a social."

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