Dansu teams bond through performance
BY CHEYANNE KRAMER
OU News Bureau
Dance is a common sport for young girls, since it helps build character and gives young people a sense of teamwork.
The Michigan Dansu community takes group dancing to a different level. There are no competitions and there are no judges.
These teams of dancers often perform during anime and comic conventions around the state. The dancers usually perform in hallways or out-of-the-way corners to entertain people wandering through the venue.
Rowan Lynch has been a part of the Michigan Dansu community for almost two full years, debuting at an anime convention in Lansing, Michigan.
Lynch explained that the Michigan Dansu community is just an informal name for the dance cover community here in Michigan. The community focuses on covering dances made famous by Japanese pop and Korean pop artists, or J-Pop and K-Pop for short.
During Youmacon, Michigan’s biggest anime convention, groups based in Michigan got together to organize the dance cover into a cohesive unit. This happened in 2014, and now dancers are performing during convention-sponsored events in Detroit, Lansing and Dearborn.
Another thing that makes these teams stand out is that there are no studios. These dancers, instead, find a place to meet and practice when they can.
Lynch was once part of a group called Nebula Kiss, where the members decided together where to host practices. They chose a gym in Ypsilanti, since it was central to most.
“We could pay to use day passes to use class space, where we had mirrors, wood floors and privacy,” Lynch said.
Another dancer, Kayn Kale, has danced since middle school, uploading dance cover videos to YouTube since 2008.
“It’s a place for us dancers to come together and form bonds and work together to show off our hard work,” Kale said.
Now, Lynch has started the team ELECTRIK, which practices in lounges at the University of Michigan and in spare classrooms at Eastern Michigan University.
At Washi Con, a convention hosted by students at Eastern Michigan University, ELECTRIK performed in the maid café for patrons.
“Most of the convention prep happened over the holidays, and a lot of us weren’t available at the same time,” Lynch said. “Some of us met up with others living near us to practice a few times, but we didn’t actually get to practice as a whole group until the morning of Washi Con.”
“I’m really proud and thankful we pulled together the way we did.”
Lynch thinks what sets the dance cover community apart from any other dance team or collective is that these communities come from an appreciation of Japanese and Korean idol culture.
For some collectives, Lynch explained that performers will take on the role of a specific character or real dancer. For example, the group AKB0048 is based on the real life idol group AKB48.
“AKB0048 is a place where you work hard to become someone else,” Lynch said. “We dance to express or love for these songs and characters. It’s how we relate.”
Kale had a similar inspiration in her reasons behind performing dance covers.
“My love for idols inspired me to upload my covers as a way that I could show my support for them,” Kale said.
Lynch said members of the same dance team will occasionally stay together in the same hotel for conventions and help each other get ready.
“In Nebula Kiss, it’s typical for the members to stick together and run around the convention the day of because when everyone is together, you really look like a squad and it’s the coolest thing,” Lynch said. “It’s a lot of running around, but dancing and seeing our audience have fun is really worth it.”
Back when Kale began dancing, there was no collective community like Michigan Dansu.
“I always used to dream and pray that I could find others like me, and now I have,” Kale said. “I am so blessed to have been able to watch this community grow, and I have made truly beautiful friendships as a result.”
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