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Notre Dame K-pop dance club performs in Fusion Fest

| Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Photo courtesy of ASCEND
ASCEND performing at South Bend’s ethnic festival, Fusion Fest

This weekend at Howard Park, Notre Dame’s ASCEND K-pop dance club showcased their dancing skills and passion for Korean music at Fusion Fest, South Bend’s ethnic festival.

Airrial Tutton, a senior who serves as co-president of the club, said the festival sought to include cultural performances from all regions of the world.

In addition to dancing, Tutton said, the club held an instructional portion for audience members.

“We brought kids onto the stage to try to make it interactive and [help] spread a bit of Korean culture,” she said.

According to Tutton, this interactive segment was a mini-version of what the club usually does at its weekly practices.

“Members have the opportunity to learn various K-pop dances from boy groups and girl groups — all taught by our members,” Tutton said. “Anyone is allowed to teach a dance if they have interest.”

On top of practices on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays in Duncan Student Center’s Studio One, Tutton said members have the opportunity to do dance covers. After learning the choreography and coordinating costumes, they film the dance and post it to their YouTube channel.

“We try to [film on] all the popular locations on campus so that if you saw the video and saw the [Golden Dome], you would learn that Notre Dame has a [K-pop] dance club,” Tutton said.

While there have been K-pop performances in the past at annual showcases like the Korean Student Association’s (KSA) Seoul’d Out, the club was only formally established this year, according to Tutton.

“K-pop was under KSA, so usually people would only gather around [Asian American Association’s] Asian Allure and Seoul’d Out,” Tutton said. “But last year, we saw there was a need from people who wanted to dance more.”

Photo courtesy of ASCEND
ASCEND at the Korean Student Association’s yearly show, Seoul’d Out

Sophomore Gabby Benitez, who serves as the club’s all-event coordinator, started out by performing in Seoul’d Out last spring.

“After that, I joined dance covers for music videos from girl dance groups,” she said.

Benitez, who hails from the Philippines, said her high school didn’t have many dance-adjacent opportunities.

“I wasn’t able to develop my dancing skills as much as I wanted to,” Benitez said.

Through the club, Benitez said she was able to connect with other students who shared her interests in music and dancing.

“I think the excitement we get from listening to the songs together [and] dancing the songs together is really fun,” she said.

Benitez encouraged those who are hesitant about their dance skills to try ASCEND to get out of their comfort zones.

“People say that they’re not good at dancing, or they’re not immersed into that type of culture. I would just say to try it — it’s for fun,” she said.

As a new club, ASCEND is still in the process of determining what their showcase will be, but Tutton said the club hopes to improve the production behind it. She also noted that for AAA’s upcoming show, Asian Allure, the club’s theme will be “Arcade.”

Photo courtesy of ASCEND
ASCEND at Seoul’d Out
Photo courtesy of ASCEND
ASCEND at Fusion Fest
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