Campus dance groups feature unique styles

Salsa Craze, Kaos, and Miami Ballroom representatives pose by lake Osceola. Cayla Nimmo // Photo Editor

Two of the University of Miami’s top dance groups strutted their stuff at their annual performances on March 3.

The Indian Student Association (ISA) hosted their fifth annual Miami Mayhem dance competition, which featured Garba/Rass dance teams from across the nation.

The same evening, Miami Ballroom hosted their second annual Dancing with the UMiami Stars, which brought together UM “celebrities” like Sebastian the Ibis and former Student Government President Brandon Mitchell to dance for the trophy.

UM is home to multiple dance groups, each with a unique style. Here is a look at five of these groups.


KAOS, the university’s only co-ed hip-hop dance group, is shattering the concept that hip-hop requires baggy clothes, hulking muscles and a tough demeanor.

The 17-member group meets twice a week for two hours to go over routines, learn new choreography by their own team members and also prepare innovative pieces for their semester showcase. In the past, KAOS has featured the burlesque style and lap dances, an audience favorite, in their performances.

“While hip-hop is our predominate style we also have many dancers whose strengths lie in contemporary or lyrical,” KAOS President Julianne Byun said. “Everyone on the team has their own niche, so while we stay true to our roots we do a lot of incorporating in our routines.”

Miami Ballroom

The waltz and foxtrot are no longer just something your grandparents dance.

Miami Ballroom offers classes in two categories of dance, standard and Latin. The standard dances include the waltz, tango and the foxtrot, and the Latin dances include the cha-cha, samba and rumba.

Within Miami Ballroom there is a competition and performance team, which has 15 members, and a club, which has about 50 to 60 members of students, faculty and Miami locals, according to President Kathleen Munley.

“People usually prefer Latin because it’s more fun and upbeat,” Munley said. “Standard is what people see as more ‘old people’ dancing. We did a modern twist and performed ballroom to the song ‘Cooler than Me’ to show people ballroom is cool.”

Once a month, club members are given an opportunity to show off their skills at a social. It gives them the opportunity to practice the steps and moves they have learned.


This weekend’s Miami Mayhem was hosted by UM’s Hurricane SwaggeRaas dance team.

SwaggeRaas’ routines feature Garba/Raas, a high-energy, Indian dance rooted in ethnic folk dances from the Indian state of Gujarat.

“It’s time-consuming, but it’s worth it,” said freshman Puja Patel, who is a member of SwaggeRaas and performed in Mayhem.

Garba is primarily a solo dance performed in a circular fashion while Raas is done in pairs using a stick called a dandia.

SwaggeRaas is one of ISA’s three dance groups. The other two include Hurricane Bhangra, which showcases traditional folk dances from the Indian state of Punjab, and UMiami Thaalam, or UFusion, which is ISA’s all-girls dance team.

UMiami Thaalam, or UFusion, combines traditional Indian dances with hip-hop dance moves.

Miami Motion 

The girls of Miami Motion like to turn, kick and leap their way into the hearts of students by performing at on-campus events.

The all-girl jazz and lyrical dance team is a group of “friends who come together to dance,” according to Miami Motion President Joanie Oben.

Miami Motion has gone from a group of 10 to 15 dancers to a strong team of around 25 since its formation five years ago. With more girls auditioning, the process has become very selective, sophomore Chrissy Houston said.

The group has also worked their way up to performing at three to four events each semester.

“Our goal right now is to keep growing our presence at school,” Oben said.

When Miami Motion performs at pep rallies, the dancers use high-energy dances to get the crowd excited.

Their jazz technique is peppy, like something out of a music video, Oben said.

When the girls performed a song from the movie “Burlesque” at a Greek Week event on March 2, freshman Taylor Birnbaum, a new member, said they tried to “liven up the crowd” with their “sassy” style.

Salsa Craze 

Every Wednesday night, Salsa Craze offers a fun, party-like environment for the UM and Miami communities to learn how to dance salsa.

“It is a big family, everyone is very welcoming and if you love it, you’re just drawn into in and everybody accepts you,” Salsa Craze President Dagmara Danek said.

At the beginning of each lesson, dancers are split up into different groups based on their level. There are four different levels: beginner, intermediate, advanced and masters.

“Regardless of how I feel starting class, I always end up with a smile on my face,” sophomore Adrian Lugo said.

After dancers have mastered a certain set of moves, the instructors can promote them to the next level. Students who reach the master level can also train to become instructors.

Story compiled by Isabel Brador, Ashley Martinez, Alexander Gonzalez, Lyssa Goldberg and Daniel Cepero.

May 19, 2012


Isabel Brador

Alexander Gonzalez

Assistant Editor

Lyssa Goldberg

Lyssa Goldberg is online editor of The Miami Hurricane. She is a senior majoring in journalism and political science with a minor in math. She has interned at Mashable and the Miami New Times, and her work has also been featured in The Huffington Post.

Daniel Cepero

Multimedia Editor

Ashley Martinez

Ashley Martinez is a senior majoring in journalism and psychology, which have sharpened her people-watching skills. She has worked as a staff writer, copy editor, assistant editor and is now the Edge arts and entertainment editor at The Miami Hurricane. She serves as the president of UM's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Her work has been featured in The Hurricane, Distraction Magazine, The Communique, Gables Home Page and The Miami Herald. When she's not working on a story, she loves going to the theatre and singing show tunes.

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