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The Minnesota Daily

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Published June 13, 2024

Unity comes alive in dance showcase

The show was an introduction for Collective Rhapsody, a new student group.

The beauty, diversity and art of dance came alive and captured more than 300 University students’ attention Wednesday as they went on a journey through Collective Rhapsody, or unity within ultimate happiness.

With every seat in Coffman Union’s Theater filled, the stage came alive with the message of love, dedication and togetherness through dance.

The diversified dance showcase consisted of various dance types, such as lyrical, ballet, salsa, hip-hop, cultural, African, break dance and tap dance.

The show began with an excerpt from Nelson Mandela’s speech that said, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

Sponsored by La Raza Student Cultural Center, the show was an introduction to the student group Collective Rhapsody. The group hopes to focus on diversified dance, said Eliana Reyes, one of the event’s two choreographers and coordinators.

The show’s idea was created by Briana Kennedy-Coker, the other choreographer and coordinator, who has been dancing for 17 years.

“The greatest freedom in life is doing what you love to do and what you were born to do,” she said.

Once you find that, she said, you achieve a sense of collective rhapsody as a person.

She said the hardest part was making every routine look different and finding a constant flow to the show with the many different genres of dance.

Auditions were held in December, and by January, the cast of approximately 50 students from various schools came together to practice.

“It was a good experience to get people from lots of different backgrounds together,” said Catalina Restrepo, who helped organize the event.

She said she hopes that next year, there will be more performers from within the University community.

Crystal Esparza, the third event organizer and a staff member of the cultural center, said, “Hopefully, people got a different view of dancing and art and realized that you can do so many different things.”

During the show, there were a few minutes of darkness during which members of the audience took their cell phones out and swayed them to the music. Within seconds, approximately 300 cell phones were waving in the air, introducing a modern dance routine.

“This is the best show ever put together at the University of Minnesota this year,” event attendee Mohammed Mohammed said. The show also featured rap by MC Vivid, a member of the rap group Illuminous 3, who created many smiles and laughter from the audience with his lyrics.

“As long as people left with smiles on their faces, my day is pretty much complete,” he said.

With the performers all sharing their love of art with the audience, Kennedy-Coker said, she hopes people will be inspired to follow their dreams and believe that if you put your mind to something, you really can do it.

“Everyone shared the passion and the drive to make this show a perfection” Esparza said.

At the end of the show, Reyes and Kennedy-Coker had tears of joy on their faces. Reyes said she feels like she can do anything and nothing can stop her.

“I feel like I’m flying,” she said, “I would have never thought that people were going to sell this place out. I’m actually in shock; I still can’t believe it.”

Esparza said she learned many different things about many different people through the experience.

“I’ve learned that no matter what, you can get along with anyone and build friendships and relationships with all different kinds of people” she said.

Reyes also tried to sum up the event.

“It’s about stepping out of the box and touching the things you’re afraid to touch,” Reyes said.

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