K-Staters step into cultural experience with dance night

Monday night’s International Dance lessons were broken up into five dances from different cultures. Sohini Roy Chowdhury, Graduate Masters in Electrical Engineering, teaches fellow students an Indian dance Monday. (Chelsy Lueth)

Students learned basic moves from international dances including India, Japan, and China last night during International Dance Lessons, which took place in the K-State Student Union West Ballroom as part of international week.

Pavani Ayyagari, masters in computer and informational sciences and hostess of the event, spoke during the lessons and introduced each new dance instructor.

Her other team members for the night were Sreekanth Reddy, graduate in computer and information sciences, who played the music for each lesson, and Jinzi Chen, junior in business management, head of the international dance lessons committee.

“We expected more people, but it was probably our timing that brought this many people,” said Ayyagari. “Since it started at 5:30 and most people do not turn in until later. We couldn’t really change the time though.”

The dances ranged widely: Belly dance (with some Lebanese dances added), Indian dance, Chinese dance, Salsa and Japanese dance.

“Tonight we have five kinds of different dance,” said Chen. “I think it is a great opportunity to promote culture diversity and culture understanding.”

Jam-packed with two and a half hours of learning, no one quit early. All stayed to master all the skills that were taught.

Christina Khalil, graduate in food service and hospitality management and dietary administration, taught Belly dancing and a few Lebanese dances called Dabkeh. In this dance the group holds hands in a circle with stomps, steps and hops repeated continuously.

“This is just music that you can go out and party to and I am not a professional belly dancer or teacher or anything,” said Khalil.

With this in mind, she led the girls in their part. She then showed the men their role.

For the women, she said to just move your hips to the music and lift one hand up in the air as you twist.

Someone in the crowd shouted, “Forward figure eight or back figure eight?” and everyone giggled.

Khalil suggested sticking out one leg and moving a hip forward up and down or backward up and down.

She said, “just improvise and it will go well.”

For the men, Khalil told them to get on one knee and clap as the girl performs in front of them.

As the men went along with what is required, the group laughed.

Most girls were confident, ready to show off. Most guys were timid, while a few were more outgoing with moving their hips on the girl section.

Kathak is one of the oldest forms of classical dance. Sohini Roy Chowdhury, masters in electrical engineering, taught this dance, which is “all about your posture and your stamina.”

Kathak included many steps and turns. It took much focus and instruction to master the moves. It also included hands in pray er formation and pretending to hold items like pots on top of one’s head for the women, and playing the flute for the men, while dancing.

Ahmed Alarbash, sophomore in chemical engineering, said the Indian Dance was his favorite.

“I am not a good dancer, but I think it is cool,” he said. “I just want to enjoy other cultures.”

Yi Yang, sophomore in business administration, taught a Chinese dance titled “Thousands in the Hands of Beauty.”

This was one of the most entertaining dance of the night, shown by the loudness of the laughter by participants.

He knew each movement well and was extremely flexible, though the crowd proved themselves to be otherwise.

Included in the dance was running into position and posing in line, along with precise arm movements.

Two members from K-State Swing and Salsa joined the International Dance Lessons to teach salsa.

Lindsay Ratliff, recent graduate of K-State in family studies and human services and vice president of the Swing and Salsa club, and Ryan Felber, senior in interdisciplinary humanities and a founder of Swing and Salsa club, showed each gender’s part in this specific dance.

With boys in a line on one side of the room and girls on the other, Ratliff said, “Girls, step back with your right foot.”

Felber said, “Lindsay, tell everyone why girls start with their right foot.”

Lindsay responded with “because girls are always right.”

Chuckling, Felber agreed, saying, “yes, girls are always right, but boys always lead.”

Ratliff and Felber taught the basic Salsa step and some turns.

Ching Her, sophomore in open option, taught the Japanese dance, despite being from China.

When asked why, he said, “because I am not racist,” then laughed.

He said his real answer was because he just wanted to learn something new.

Dancing to Nengara Nenjyu, Her said this dance needs audience participation.

It is a modern dance, not traditional like ‘back in the day.’ Nengara Nenjyu originated from World War II, when Japan was in a depression.

“Japanese people danced the Yosakoi – come at night – to feel better,” said Her.

This dance is light-hearted and energetic. It includes much jumping, fist pumping in a jumping jack motion, jazz hands and the monkey dance.

Her wanted it to be made known that he did not name the latter dance.

For more information about upcoming events for international week, visit the International Coordinating Council Web site at k-state.edu/icc.