On Saturday at 12 p.m., Kenyon dance groups What’s K-Poppin’ and Ballroom Dance Club joined forces to hold a winter dance showcase in the Horn Gallery.
The performances ranged from solos and duets to group routines, including a variety of songs, costumes and props. The members of What’s K-Poppin’ flaunted bold eye makeup and colorful K-pop-inspired outfits, and the Ballroom Dance Club’s ensemble attire ranged from cowboy hats and plaid shirts to face masks with bloody smiles.
K-pop highlights included an impressive solo to NCT 127’s “Simon Says” by What’s K-Poppin’ President Andy Kelleher ’22 and an energetic and technically impressive group performance to “Love Shot” by EXO. Additionally, Ballroom’s group performance to “Cowboy Casanova” by Carrie Underwood and a duet to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” danced by Ballroom Dance Club President Sutton Amthor ’22 and Visiting Assistant Professor of History Alex Novikoff were both charming and lively routines.
While ballroom dancing and K-pop aren’t genres typically associated with each other, the two groups have collaborated since 2019, when Ballroom invited What’s K-Poppin’ to perform at Dancing with the Kenyon Stars — a dance competition where Ballroom members perform with Kenyon faculty.
As in-person performances returned this year, both groups found themselves with low membership numbers. “Due to the COVID pandemic, neither of our clubs had had robust recruitment for over a year,” Amthor said. “We still wanted an opportunity to perform, though, both for our own sakes, and so that new members would have an opportunity to engage with the club outside of our regular nightly lessons.”
In any case, the pairing of the two clubs led to an intriguing lineup of routines, with K-pop dances followed by swing and jive.
As Vice President of What’s K-Poppin’ Nika Cooper ’24 noted, the audience fed off of the groups’ positive energies and responded well to the mashup of styles. “Overall it really felt like every performance was fresh and different from the one before, which I think kept our audience engaged,” she said.
Despite their differences in style, it was clear that both groups shared a similar philosophy surrounding dancing: The goal was to provide a welcoming environment and prioritize learning over competition and performances. “I do think the way our clubs approach dancing is very complementary,” Amthor said. “Before anything else, our goal is to have fun dancing, and to share that joy with other people.”
Following the event, both Cooper and Amthor expressed their satisfaction with their group’s performance. “I personally couldn’t be more pleased,” Cooper noted. “We filled up all our seats and got enthusiastic responses from the audience.”
Amthor concurred that the show was successful, giving a special shout out to the show’s emcee, Joshua Earle ’24. “Our emcee did a wonderful job announcing and none of my dips ended with me getting dropped on the floor, which I consider a massive success,” she said.