It was during Syndicate tryouts that Bo Li ’16 and Joyce Fan ’17 met for the first time, sizing up one another while auditioning for the same performance group. However, these two international students were unaware at the time that they both really wanted the same thing: to start their own dance group at the College of William and Mary.
Because of their shared interest in dancing, and their inability to find a dance club that offered them the freedom of interpretation that they craved, these two international students decided to create and sponsor the group Focus.
“When we first came to school we didn’t find a single group that matched our style of jazz and freestyle,” Fan said.
While there is already a breakdancing club and many hip-hop clubs to peruse, the girls said they like to dance jazz and freestyle, a mix they call “streetdance.” Jazz, they explained, is not about groundwork like breakdancing, but is a more fluid style of dance. They like to combine this style with hip-hop, which is not to be confused with breakdancing.
This group intends not only to be an outlet for learning new dance steps and practicing routines, but also to become a service to students interested in learning how to dance.
“None of the clubs on campus teach people who don’t have dance experience. In those clubs you dance for fun but no one teaches you how to warm up, the basic elements of dance, or how to dance a series of movements,” Li said. “Many of the other clubs require that you have a high level of dancing skill, but we want to teach people who want to learn how to dance, too.”
Yuffie Gong ’16, a member of the club, added that they are always looking for experienced dancers to help teach their members once the club garners interest.
“We welcome everyone with or without experience,” Gong said. “For me, I like to dance for fun. I only have two months of experience dancing [with Li] but I love to dance. The feeling you get while you dance is really amazing and great exercise.”
Originally, the group was going to call itself “Ant,” but they decided that this terminology made it seem like a biology club. “Focus” was the name that stuck.
“When you are trying to perform on the stage, you are the focus of all the people in the room,” Li explained. “And we just want to make sure that our group is the focus, and we want our members to know what it feels like to be the center of attention.”
Right now, club members are still trying to recruit interest, members and tutors, and intend on making every effort possible to get their name into the public. They have been busy at work ensuring they will be represented at multiple upcoming school events.
“First, we are going to be dancing in the admitted students fair, then we are going to perform at a benefit performance, and then we are going to have a movie night with the executive board of the club and watch movies related to dance,” Fan said.
The club also plans to host dance competitions among the many dance clubs in order to encourage exercise and practice. They also plan to have mixers that will help connect them to other groups of students on campus who are as passionate about dancing as they are. They are hoping that their inclusion in these events will help garner interest in the club for next semester, even if help comes from other organizations.
“Once we have members, we want to try to practice at least once a week and hopefully finish teaching one whole three-to-five minute dance for each semester,” Gong said. “If they learn fast, then maybe we could complete two dances.”
Many of the members on the executive board have dance experience already, including Li, who has been practicing dance for eight years, and Fan, who has four years of jazz experience. However, each member has his or her own reason for wanting to dance.
“I love dancing because it really makes me a more confident person,” Li said. “When I dance I feel like I am more confident and more attractive. That’s why I love dancing so much, it just makes me think, ‘I am beautiful and I love the way I dance.’”
Fan explains that she wants everyone to feel as happy as she does when she is practicing and performing, and to know that they are the central focus when they are on stage.