If you’re feeling the need to relieve some stress as finals draw nearer, you might want to hop on over to the Fusion Dance Club and get those hips moving.
The University of New Mexico’s Fusion Dance Club is all about combining hip-hop with other dance styles, according to Daniel Rodriguez, the club president and founder.
“The club is mostly hip-hop-based, so we do dances, but the main goal was to bring together people from different backgrounds to dance,” Rodriguez said. “Coming to the University and not finding a club that had hip-hop really encouraged me to start one.”
While there are other kinds of fusion dances, Rodriguez’s style is more of his own invention, he said. According to , a lot of fusion is partner dancing with elements drawn from other types of partner dancing. The Fusion Dance Club, however, is less partner dancing and more choreographed group dancing with major draws from hip-hop and cheerleading-like elements.
“Our goal as a club is basically to just express our appreciation for the art of dance,” said Myrtha Sebastian, one of the crew leaders. “We don’t really have a specific genre that we pay attention to; we kind of just go with whatever the funk is.”
The club calls itself Fusion due to its ability to fuse different elements together, Rodriguez said. “When it comes to different styles of dances, we do contemporary and hip-hop, Bollywood and hip-hop; we do different kinds of dances that come from different cultures.”
Adrian Samaniego, a club member, said there’s a lot more to their dancing than just moving to the music.
“I just thought that it was about dance, but now, I do realize that a lot of the dances and a lot of the things we do, they have a bigger meaning behind it,” Samaniego said.
The group tried out for Lobo’s Got Talent with choreography meant to promote suicide awareness.
“Instead of just shaking our booties, we try to communicate a message,” said Kaisa Tihkan, the other crew leader.
The club tries to get involved with the community in various ways, such as a fundraising bake sale for Casa Esperanza, an organization that helps families going through healthcare and financial problems, Sebastian said. The Fusion Dance Club also participated in a flash mob and is currently preparing for the Twinkle Light Parade.
“There are a lot of experiences,” Sebastian said. “There are definitely a lot of unmentioned adventures, like there are some times where we’re at the tumbling gym, and we’d have to walk somewhere, or we’d need a ride; it’s always fun.”
There are also some job opportunities, like getting to dance for a television show, she said.
“I took it upon myself to take that opportunity,” Sebastian said. “I figured that I don’t have that experience, so I want to get that under my belt. I spent a whole night just hanging out with a different dance crew. These people were beyond good, because this was for a TV show. But it was cool that I got to work for them and work with those talented people, because they kind of dedicate their entire lives to dance, and it’s a whole different perspective.”
In terms of just coming to the club meetings themselves, both Tihkan and Samaniego said being a part of the group has helped them with dealing with the stresses of school.
“It gets me excited about different things, like when I have a test coming up on Thursday, but also my club on Thursday, I’m like, ‘Ok, I do the test, and then I have the club, so I’ll be fine,’” Tihkan said. “It’s inspirational, and it keeps me excited.”
“Don’t get me wrong, there are some times where I’m like, ‘I have to do all this, but I also have dance practice,’” Sebastian said. “It’s not stressing to me, but time makes me stressed, and this obviously takes time. But it’s a good commitment, because you come here to dance.”
Sebastian added that they welcome people of all levels of dance experience.
“What we strive for in this club is a non-judgemental zone, so if you’re terrible at dancing, you are more than welcome,” she said. “We will embrace your bad moves. We’ll help you improve. We’ll make sure everyone’s looking good. But if you’re shy, if you’re super outgoing or if you’re on the fence about doing dance, I say give it a shot.”
“I’ve been dancing for six or seven years, but I’ve been dancing at a dance company, so we’d do these stage performances, and now coming here, it’s just really nice to actually dance for the community of the school and the people,” Tihkan said.
Anyone interested in joining Fusion Dance Club can send an email to and they’ll welcome you at their next meeting, Rodriguez said. There is also a $10 membership fee that comes with a free hat.
Ariel Lutnesky is a culture reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ArielLutnesky.