February 1, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 26°F

Life & Culture

Island Fusion dance group brings Caribbean heat to campus

As purple lights illuminate the stage and Caribbean music blares over the speakers, a new dance group on campus displays its hard work. This group is Island Fusion, a new Caribbean and African dance group at Ithaca College, and it hosted its first event, Cupid’s Arrow, on Feb. 14 in IC Square. It also invited other dance groups, such as the Ground Up Crew and the Step Team, and solo performers to show off their routines as well.

Junior Reynelle Dickson, co-president of Island Fusion, said she wanted to form a less-competitive dance team for different students on campus. Junior La Maria McDonald, the other co-president of the group, said she hopes the group will form strong ties across different majors and cultures on campus, not just those of Caribbean and African descent.

The group came together during the 2013–14 school year, but it was officially recognized as a club on campus during the 2014 fall semester, which is when it opened its auditions up to all students. Currently, the group has 12 members.

Dickson said the songs they pick are always ones they can relate to, and they always take input from the team for new dance routines.

“Our style of dancing can be seen as a little bit provocative or promiscuous because there’s a lot of winding and grinding,” Dickson said. “And we’re used to that, so we try to tame that a little, not have too much. And we try to incorporate it to show ‘This is what we are, this is how our people dance.’”

Both Dickson and McDonald said during the auditions the group holds each semester, they don’t look for how much each dancer can remember, but rather how much enthusiasm and how much of their own style they put into it. Dickson said her and McDonald perform the routine with the dancers during the auditions in case they don’t remember the steps, and so the dancers feel more comfortable.

“We had just left an audition for a dance team and we were just evaluating our performances,” Dickson said. “For me, I shut down and I got nervous … and I knew there were a lot of people like this, who can’t perform well when being evaluated, but can perform well otherwise.”

McDonald said they also noticed there weren’t any clubs on campus related to Caribbean dancing or African dancing. McDonald said, another reason Island Fusion was created was to bring a team that was diverse to the campus community.

Taylor Zambrano can be reached at tzambra1@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @tzambra1