Refresh Dance Crew, founded in 2005, takes the stage.

Northwestern University student dance groups shake up fall dance review

By Selah Holland
Medill Reports

ReFusionShaka welcomed more than 2,000 attendees from Northwestern University and the Chicago area to the annual fall dance review with bold, edgy choreography.

Northwestern student urban dance groups Fusion Dance Company and Refresh Dance Crew, and contemporary dance squad Boomshaka collaboratively performed in Cahn Auditorium on campus. The annual fall show sold out one of its three total performances of the weekend, continuing a yearly pattern of ticket sale success.

Quick, clean-cut movements met upbeat hip-hop and pop songs. Rich background lighting –– deep reds, oranges, blues and purples –– set the dramatic tone of the show. Passionate audience members continuously cheered, becoming another dimension of the high-energy performance.

Lighting and sound elements play a major role in the performance. (Selah Holland/MEDILL)
Lighting and sound elements play a major role in the performance. (Selah Holland/MEDILL)

Fusion Dance Company internal relations manager Adia Fielder said the production took lots of hard work to prepare. Rehearsals started the first week of school this fall, consisting of three rehearsal days per week, she said. Leading up to the show, additional rehearsals were scheduled as fine tuning sessions. Tech week –– the week before the show weekend –– was the most demanding of them all.

Tech week is when the dance groups rehearse with full lighting, audio, and costumes to ensure a smooth show, Fielder said. The more than 100 dancers were required to commit to these rehearsals from 5 p.m. to midnight each evening leading up to the big weekend.

“Sometimes you feel like you’re going insane, but you’re there with all your friends and it’s a good time to hang out with people,” the 20-year-old junior said.

But, after all the hard work, the show is exhilarating. Fielder, who has been a member of Fusion since the first week of her freshman year, said her favorite part is the vibrant atmosphere.

“The shows are always so amazing because the crowd always gives you back so much energy. Even though you’re dying on stage because dancing for 11 minutes is very hard and all of our set pieces were very cardio heavy, it’s just a rewarding experience to come off the stage and have everyone [cheer].”

Senior Suzannah Kingsbury has attended ReFusionShaka every year as a student at Northwestern.

“I have always had friends who are in the show and I love being in the audience to support them and cheer them on. My favorite part is finding people after the show and congratulating them,” the 20-year-old said.

The dance crews’ rigorous schedules can slow down for the rest of the fall season until they begin preparing for their individual spring shows. Fusion and Refresh will host their own open classes. Boomshaka will perform at various events in the Chicago area.

Regardless of what they’re working on, Fusion just wants to put on the best show possible, Fiedler said.

“We want everyone to come out, have a good time, and if they want to start dancing, hopefully ReFusionShaka can be the thing that catalyzes that.”

Photo at top: Refresh Dance Crew, founded in 2005, takes the stage. (Selah Holland/MEDILL)