It is almost that time of the year when three of Northwestern’s dance groups unify to display jaw-dropping performances: talent, passion and dance blend like a potion of pure magic.  

ReFusionShaka is an annual dance show hosted by three NU dance groups: Refresh, Fusion and Boomshaka. The event has grown in popularity over the years and today it is a celebrated performance to show off Northwestern students’ talents. This year, the performances will be held on Nov. 19-20. And the Fusion dance group has already embarked on their two-month preparation process to perfect their dance sets to impress about three thousand ReFusionShaka attendees.

The Fusion group is composed of about 43 dancers, eight of which are executive board members that manage the group’s social events, scheduling, social media and outreach to other teams. For this year’s ReFusionShaka performance, Fusion will be presenting six dance sets including the all-company set. Each set is led and choreographed by an elected artistic director, who is also a member of the executive team. Co-artistic directors are in charge of the creative vision of the team. Everything that Fusion showcases to its audience is what the artistic directors have developed together.  

Fusion’s preparation begins well before Fall Quarter even starts. The voting process to decide choreographers happens from late August to the beginning of September and the routines are devised by the last Sunday in September. Once classes begin, members of the team are assigned to the dance sets. Having these logistics sorted, rehearsals begin.

Fusion dancers start their rehearsal with a stretching warm-up.  

Dancers being instructed by the choreographer

Dancers at the start of their rehearsal practicing the choreography after the warmup

For this year’s all-company set, third-year Ryan Kim was elected as the artistic director and choreographer, making him responsible to lead the group and the all-company rehearsals.

“Everything that I produce, I like to think about it first. I know that I want a certain picture to be present on stage,” Kim said. “I use my imagination to start when I am doing the formation. I consider which member would fit better in a particular section versus in another. It’s really all about trial and error.”

Kim minutes before he begins to lead the all-company rehearsal

For Kim’s choreography process, he works solo to choose the music and devise the choreography with complete creative liberty.

When Kim first started to choreograph dance sets, he focused on the moves themselves; now after five years of experience, he says he uses the song to guide his process. Kim believes that the chosen moves should be used to highlight certain nuances of the music.

Dancers being instructed by Kim

Matthew You, fourth-year, is co-artistic director with Kim and has been dancing since freshman year in high school. You considers himself a freestyle dancer – he says the foundation of his creative process is selecting the song then choreographing to what feels natural and perfectly incorporate into the rhythms of the music.

Dancers learning the all-company choreography

As You says, “Teaching is an art.” And it takes an experienced choreographer to know how to lead their group.

He believes that the choreographer needs to understand his group’s level of proficiency to mold the rehearsals accordingly. You said the Fusion group moves at a fast pace during rehearsals, so there’s no need to guide dancers one-on-one.

Dancers going over the choreography

Dancers rehearsing the learned choreography

As opening night approaches, Fusion continues rehearsing, determined to make their performance come to life at yet another amazing ReFusionShaka.

Dancers finalizing their rehearsal

Photos by Isabella Costa / North by Northwestern.