Noticing the need for a more community-oriented and diverse dance group on campus, Arah Kang ’19 and Joy Huang ’19 decided to create ReFRESH, a group dedicated to exploring movement through various styles of dance. Kang and Huang came up with the idea over the summer and ReFRESH began offering classes at the beginning of the semester.

“We wanted [it] to be a very inclusive dance community,” said Kang.

Last year, both Huang and Kang were part of dance groups on campus. Huang continues to perform with Vague, a jazz dance performance group. Kang was a member of Intersection, an Afro-Latin dance group. ReFRESH joins eight other dance groups on campus. They noted that the other dance groups on campus are audition and performance-based and wanted to create a group where anyone could come, regardless of experience.

 “There is a lot of talent from students on campus who aren’t necessarily in the dance groups and we reach out to them,” said Huang.

ReFRESH offers dance classes once a week for an hour. At the beginning of the lesson, the instructor—a Bowdoin student—creates a 30-second combination. The rest of the class is spent working on the combination and free-styling. So far, they have offered classes in contemporary, hip-hop and bachata dance, all taught by different students at Bowdoin.

“We thought it would be cool for us to start something where you could have peers teaching peers and different styles,” said Huang.

Huang and Kang have used this semester to gauge interest in the group and develop their method. The turnout of the classes has been steady so far although they are hoping for more participants next semester.

“The biggest challenge is just getting enough people to come to make it a good community,” said Huang.

Sarena Sabine ’19 has been attending ReFRESH classes since they started. Part of her high school dance team, Sabine ultimately decided not to pursue dance at Bowdoin during her first year. She found that she missed the community aspect of dance and the range of genres, so she began to look into new dance groups on campus. ReFRESH provided just what she was looking for.

“Every week, there’s a new piece, a new song and a new style of dance,” said Sabine. “Different people bring in their talents, and collectively we have been able to try out a bunch of things.”

Huang and Kang have also created multimedia concept videos with the group. In one video, they projected various colorful images onto themselves and danced to “Breezeblocks” by alt-J. In the future, they are hoping to explore the intersection between various types of artistic mediums by creating more videos.

 Huang and Kang ultimately want to create a safe space where people feel comfortable to go, learn a new dance style and hang out with other people who are passionate about dance. 

“Dance is such a great source of joy and a stress reliever, especially in an environment like this class,” said Sabine. “It’s been a great addition to the Bowdoin dance community.”