Students dance to the beats of cultures around the world

March 30, 2011

by Naomi Allison, STAFF REPORTER

Fists pumped through the air, hips swayed from side to side, bodies glistened with sweat and music beats pulsated from stereos as more than 25 students gathered in the Bulldog Kennel to challenge each other during Chi Alpha’s annual International Student Dance-Off.

The event is an intense competition of belly dancing, break dancing, hip hop, pop, disco, salsa, alolki, African dance, meringue, folk dance, lok gee and other diverse dance styles.

Basil Nwokolo, a sophomore chemical engineering major from Nigeria, said he enjoyed overseeing the International Student Dance-Off because it allowed him to gain a fresh perspective and learn about traditional dances from around the world.

“It’s crazy to see how passionate and energetic people become when they hear a song from their own country,” he said. “No matter how good or bad of a dancer they are off rhythm, their spirit can’t be broken and their pride can’t be replicated. It’s so appealing that it makes you want get up and dance with them.”

Nwokolo also said although organizing the event was difficult, seeing the finished product was well worth it.

“In the beginning, everything was moving kind of slow,” he said. “At the end, it met my expectations because everyone was having fun.”

This was highlighted as some students tripped awkwardly over their feet, while attempting to learn and master choreography of popular American line dances, such as “the Macarena,” “Cupid Shuffle” and “Footloose.”

On the other hand, others found themselves struggling as they tried to make their bodies synchronize with the upbeat rhythms and tempos of “Shik Shak Shok,” an Egyptian belly-dance song, “Sheila Ki Jawani,” a popular Hindi song featuring Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif and “Aaha Kalilo Taamalai,” a Nepalese romance ballad.

Osayd Sawalha, a junior biomedical engineering major from Jordan, said he enjoyed dancing because it gave him the opportunity to take a break from his long study nights in the library and coffee stops at Tolliver Hall.

“It’s a great way to relax and just get away from the stress of school for a while,” he said. “You can just release and let go of everything that you are feeling at the moment.”

Sawalha also said his favorite part about the event was listening to different types of music.

“I loved it, especially the music that the DJ played,” he said. “I expected to see more people, but I was happy with the turnout that they had.”

Amrit Awal, a freshman journalism major, said his favorite part about the International Student Dance-Off was sharing his culture, dancing and meeting other international students who could relate to his situation.

“When you’re an international student, your heart feels homesick because you’re so far away from home,” he said. “I mean, it’s not the same as home. You miss your culture, and those memories from your past — celebrating parties with your family, having festivals and going to dances — seem to come rushing back.”

Awal also said functions geared toward international students were important because they helped the international communities around Ruston unite and become a family.

“Events like this create a bond of brotherhood, friendship and love,” he said. “This is the key issue right now because the world is filled with war, violence and destruction. If we can unite and learn to respect each other’s cultures, we can spread the message of peace.”

E-mail comments to nsa008@latech.edu.