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Global Rhythms: Exploring ASU's Dance Scene

ASU campuses have a multitude of dance cultures, with students from all over the world sharing their unique styles.


ASU students practice tango at Wexler Hall on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023 in Tempe.

ASU is a vibrant campus where diverse cultures are celebrated and woven into the essence of the university experience. Dance emerges as a profound form of expression within this dynamic cultural landscape. Each representing a distinct culture, numerous dance clubs serve as gateways into their respective traditions. Listed below is an overview of several cultural dance organizations available at ASU:

Devil Dancesport

ASU has a variety of cultural dance clubs, each adding a special touch to the campus's dance scene. 

"We aim to open the ballroom up to new dancers through both competition and social dance," James Perry, president of Devil Dancesport and biological sciences senior, said.

Devil Dancesport explores the blend of Latin dance in the ballroom, highlighting its development and conservation as an art form. This feeling echoes through ASU's dance clubs, where movement becomes a celebration of cultural heritage.

"We invite dancers from around the area, professionals or studio owners, to teach and share their expertise,"  Vice President of Devil Dancesport and engineering management junior Sylvia Lopez said.

This collaborative spirit echoes the broader dance community at ASU, where clubs unite for their love of dance.

"Devil Dancesport has always focused on being inclusive," Perry said. 

Inclusivity is fundamental to ASU's dance culture, where clubs welcome dancers from diverse backgrounds.

As the campus readies for the Phoenix Fall Festival, Devil Dancesport's growth symbolizes the vibrant dance community thriving at ASU. This festival exemplifies the lively spirit of competition that fuels ASU's dance clubs.

Dabke United

Dabke United is a vibrant cornerstone of ASU's rich cultural dance scene. With a constant commitment to preserving and showcasing Arab heritage through traditional dance, the organization welcomes participants of all backgrounds to their inclusive workshops. 

Alivia Homsey and Bailey Homsey, both juniors majoring in Biochemistry, co-run the organization. However, it was founded by ASU alumni Samia Muraweh.

“There wasn’t really something like [Dabke United] before, and we wanted to create a place where people could come together, especially Arabs ... and learn about their culture,” Muraweh said.

They skillfully transmit the art of specific dabke moves through structured sessions, fostering a deeper appreciation for Arab culture.

For Alivia Homsey, joining Dabke United has been transformative.

“Growing up, there wasn’t much [Arab culture]. So once I found this [organization] at ASU, I was able to connect with my culture.”

The organization draws inspiration from notable cultural figures such as Mohammed Assaf, Omar Suleiman and Fares Karam, further fueling their mission to celebrate and preserve Arab heritage through dance.

K-pop Dance Evolution (KoDE)

Founded in 2013, the K-pop Dance Evolution (KoDE) club at ASU has become a vibrant hub for K-pop enthusiasts and those keen on exploring Korean culture.

Nikita Anand, the club's president and a senior studying business law, emphasizes the mission of providing a safe and inclusive space for the community to come together and dance.

"We're pretty much a dance club," Anand said. "We dance to K-pop, we listen to K-pop."

Anand, a three-year dance instructor, has built a dynamic repertoire ranging from contemporary to hip-hop for the club.

"We try to be accommodating to all dance levels," Anand said.

KoDE's impact extends beyond its members. Collaborations with organizations like AAPASC and events like Culture Fest have showcased the club's talent to a broader audience. An upcoming partnership with Little Cholla Night Market promises an interactive K-pop night, including workshops and random dance performances.

As K-pop continues to surge in popularity, KoDE remains at the forefront as a dance club and a cultural bridge, bringing diverse communities together in the joy of dance and appreciation for Korean culture. 

Tango Club at ASU

ASU's Tango Club provides an inclusive space for students to delve into Argentine tango

President Nicole Darmawaskita, a graduate student studying human systems engineering, dubs it a "tango kindergarten," nurturing expression in a secure environment.

"It’s an improvised dance… both roles have equal power," Darmawaskita said.

Vice President Wilhemena Hunter, a junior studying business language and culture, describes the club as "a bridge between the school and the tango community."

Through milongas, an Argentine tango dance event, students can connect to tradition and each other. 

Influences from Cindy Vaña and the dancing duo Homer and Cristina Ladas enrich the club's unique and individual cultures. 

"You can just dance with pretty much anybody that knows tango," Hunter said.

The Kizomba Club at ASU

The Kizomba Club at ASU was formed last year, embracing the Afro-centric roots of Angolan dance.

"It’s very much supposed to be a community-based dance where anybody can get involved, it’s very fun, there’s a sense of closeness," president and animal behavior graduate student Jamie Casseus said. 

For Casseus, dancing has been transformative and allowed him to grow outside academics and understand himself better. Casseus hopes that club members learn more than the dance itself.

"When you learn to dance in a way, and you learn the historical piece behind it, you tend to gravitate towards it more and have a stronger connection to it,” Casseus said.

Other forms of Kizomba practiced by the club, such as samba and kompa, with different tempos and dance moves, are equally unfamiliar to many ASU students.

"If you’re looking for something new, we’re always going to be here," Casseus said. "It’s a different type of culture that a lot of people aren’t used to."

Asian Performance Inclusive Dance Diversity (APIDD) 

APIDD offers a dynamic platform for exploring Asian dance styles alongside hip-hop, aerial and modern forms. 

President Jasmine Hoàng, a graduate student in both psychology and law, emphasizes the club's inclusive ethos, aiming to encompass every ethnic and cultural dance, 

"We want to really touch base on everything and make sure everyone is included," Hoàng said.

APIDD's scope expands beyond dance, encompassing vocal performance and modeling.

"Movement is everything,” Hoàng said. “That's why we use dance as our main title." 

The club invites guest artists and professionals to provide a well-rounded learning experience, emphasizing cultural understanding before diving into the art form. Like a recent visit to Vietnam, cultural immersion trips exemplify APIDD's dedication to mutual understanding and community engagement. 

"This really gets everyone to learn about each other's culture, to really get along with each other and give back to the community at the same time," Hoàng said.

APIDD members showcase their talents at various events, from collaborative sessions with different organizations to prestigious platforms like New York Fashion Week and LA Fashion Week.

"Our goals and aspirations are just to create a true, genuine community," Hoàng said.

The Salsa Club

The Salsa Club at ASU is more than just a dance group; it's a welcoming community that invites students and non-students to explore the vibrant world of dance.

Their regular socials, held nearly every other Friday, are a platform for enthusiasts of all levels. 

President Ashley Hernandez-Munoz, a senior majoring in industrial engineering, encourages beginners.

"It's a great place to start; most of the people are beginners,"  Hernandez-Munoz said.

The club provides an hour-long lesson that delves into the intricacies of the basics, fostering confidence among participants. This semester, they also aim to educate students about the rich history behind salsa.

Hernandez-Munoz especially takes pride in the mix of different cultures and academic backgrounds that make up the club's board, calling it " the most diverse board I've ever seen."

The club also arranges special events and workshops with local professionals to enrich the dance experience. In addition to events and workshops, the Salsa Club has performed at the Latin Sol Festival

With a diverse and welcoming atmosphere, ASU dance clubs teach about dance and cultivate a sense of belonging and exploration within the broader dance community.

Edited by Claire van Doren, Walker Smith and Angelina Steel.

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