Music, dance celebrate African American culture

African culture filled Historic Market Square for the 29th annual Kuumba Festival on Friday, June 22. The public celebrated the free festival with entertainment on the stage from noon to 10 p.m.

African American Appalachian Arts brought the festival to fruition. The nonprofit grassroots organization helps plan this annual festival and concentrates on bringing positive social, economic and community development through cultural arts programming.

This year’s theme, “Kuumba Forever,” honored the legacy of former Executive Director Nkechi Ajanaku who died last summer.

“I think people need to see this and experience new things,” Chelsey Goons, a UT student, said. “It really shows how much there is out there in the world to see and encourages young people to embrace their true culture.”

The “Love is the Answer” Youth Art Showcase encouraged child development through the arts.

Felecia Outsey, the creator of “Love is the Answer,” said, “[The showcase] started with me wanting to be able to have something in place for kids who could not afford to go to take dance lessons, and I was once one of those kids.”

“The initiative is an open-mic performance community showcase that is hosted every month, but what we do is use that time to teach love to children and people in our community.”

MC Zakiyyah “Sista Zock Solid” Modeste and DJ K Swift hosted the event through both sunny weather and a deluge. The Kuumba Watoto Children’s Dance and Drum Extravaganza proved a popular feature as performers livened up the scene despite the rain.

The festival ended with a live concert from local singer and poet Daje Morris and the Ogya World Music Band.


Images of the Kuumba Watoto Children’s Dance and Drum group by Sage Davis

Edited by Lexie Little


UT K-Pop group wins award

The University of Tennessee’s Kascade won the Best Choreography award at the 2018 Middle Tennessee Anime Convention (MTAC) lip-sync competition. The MTAC 18th Battalion, held in Nashville at the Sheraton Music City Hotel and Embassy Suites, lasted three days from March 30 to April 1. UTK Kascade won the Best Group award at the contest last year at MTAC Haiku.

The returning champions appeared on stage with confidence. Because the lip-sync contest required participants to cosplay, to dress up as characters, Kascade members dressed as Ariel from “Little Mermaid,” Belle from “Beauty and the Beast,” Jasmine from “Aladdin,” Snow White and Pocahontas.

Kascade danced to “Now, We” by Lovelyz. Their cute and demure dance captured Disney simplicity and the audience’s attention. No one expected, however, for the group to suddenly change the song to “You Think” by Girls Generation and start a powerful, alluring dance. The performance garnered large audience support and judge support.

“Dancing is really important to us, and we were really happy to see what we love to do be appreciated by other people,” Shelby Neil, a Kascade leader, said. “I was really excited to hear that we won best choreography.”

Kascade’s Best Choreography award is one of five awards presented to participants of the contest. Kascade also received a free pass for the 2019 MTAC.

“The lip-sync is one of my favorite events of the year, so I like go all out in planning it,” Jinna Free, another Kascade leader, said. “It’s always an honor to see our hard work pay off.”


Featured Image: Jeff Park

Image from left: Jinna Free, Alexandria Ansari, Savannah Householder, Shelby Neil, Kane Dayton 



BOSS Dance Company hosts Spring Showcase

The BOSS Dance Company was “en pointe” this weekend during its seventh annual Spring Showcase presented by the University of Tennessee Dance Society in Clarence Brown Theater.

BOSS, a student-run company, formed in 2010 as the main company of the UT Dance Society. The Dance Society formed in 2008 following the elimination of dance pedagogy and performance minors at UT. BOSS auditions students who participate in technique classes and performances outside of their college schedules and curricula.

Over 70 dancers brought art to life through choreography by a team of 10 professional and nine student choreographers.

“It has been such an amazing feeling to see our showcase come together because we have put a lot of hard work and dedication into making it the best that it can be,” dancer Madison Tomasek said. “We’re so lucky to have the chance to showcase our talents in front of an audience.”

The Friday night show started nearly 30 minutes after the advertised time to allow a large line of student, family and community supporters to find seats. Audience members cheered for their favorite dancers, waved posters and brought flowers to celebrate the company’s work.

Maigread Lennon, a UT student, arrived an hour early to purchase a ticket and find a seat.

“I wanted to come tonight because I know how hard my roommate has worked, and I wanted to support her,” Lennon said.

The company let loose in light numbers like the swing and hip-hop fusion “Night on Lennox.” But BOSS also used its talent as a platform to address social issues. The choreography of “Us Versus Us” drew attention to hate caused by social media.

“Being a part of BOSS has given me the opportunity to become more involved on campus and allowed me to find my place here at UT,” Tomasek said. “There is so much talent in this company, from the choreographers to the dancers, that makes this company what it is.”

Parents of BOSS members sold merchandise like crop tops and sweatshirts featuring the respective Dance Society and BOSS Dance Company logos. Branding brings increasing attention to the company; the Dance Society hopes the spirit of dance will continue at UT.

Auditions for BOSS are held in early fall each academic year. The group rehearses once a week, but additional rehearsals may be added as needed. Anyone interested in auditioning for BOSS may send inquiries to for more information.

Follow the University of Tennessee Dance Society @DanceSocietyUTK or like them on Facebook here: Dance Society

Featured Image by Lexie Little

Edited by Katy Hill

International House hosts annual dance competition

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The International House hosted its annual International Dance Competition on Friday Feb. 26 in the Alumni Memorial Building.

Students, faculty, staff and alumni were invited to showcase their dance skills by representing their culture with choreography and costumes in a five to seven minute performance.

“Usually we have about seven to nine teams,” said Lauren Longino, coordinator for the International House. “We have about the same this year as we did last year.”

The seven cultures represented in the showcase included the Philippines, India, Japan, U.S, Russia, Saudi Arabia and South Korea.

Gabby Joubert attended the competition to support her friends in Volatomix, an American hip-hop dance group, but said she enjoyed the variety of the competition.

Students create their own choreography for the I-House’s annual dance competition.//Photo by Kaitlin Flippo

“I really loved the different representations of the cultures,” Joubert said. “I didn’t expect it to be as amazing as it was.”

India’s UT Bhangra Jammers were declared the winners and Russia’s Vee-Khor team were named the runner-up.

“[We practice] about five hours a day, seven days a week,” said Pooja Saraf Dogra, a graduate student at UT and dancer for UT Bhangra Jammers.

“[It took] about a month,” added Arkadipta Bakshi, a fellow graduate student and dancer for UT Bhangra Jammer. “We used to practice from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. every day.”

In between performances, the host, Jianyin Roachell, interacted with the crowd before announcing each performer. He encouraged the audience to do the wave before each performance and tossed International House t-shirts to enthusiastic crowd members.

Roachell surprised the audience by closing the show with a contemporary piece.

For more information about International House events visit their website

Photos by Kaitlin Flippo

Edited by Taylor Owens

Just Dance: Photo Gallery

International House hosts worldly dance competition


On Tuesday, the University Center auditorium was alive with the sound of music, clapping and dancing feet as UT’s International House hosted a competition of traditional and contemporary dances from around the world, all performed by UT students or organizations. The competition showcased dances from India, China, Ireland and the United States as well as featured UT’s competitive ballroom team.

The winner of the competition was the Knox Breakers dance group, representing the U.S. with a style of dancing called B-Boy highlighted by their acrobatic breakdancing moves. Second place was awarded to the Dance Miracle Girls who represented China with a mix of traditional Chinese dance and contemporary hip-hop dance.

Also featured was the Desi Tadka dance group that represented India with a colorful traditional Indian celebration dance called Garba. The Knoxville Irish Step Dancers performed a reel combining soft and hard shoes for a rhythmic dance that had the whole crowd clapping in time. The Swing Busters presented a look into history with a swing routine inspired from the 1920’s and 1930’s American jazz culture. Finally, the UT competitive ballroom team closed out with their routine to Macklemore’s song “Thrift Shop.”

Next week the International House will present Zimbabwean-Zambian culture week, starting Monday, Nov. 18 at 6 p.m. with a Zimbabwean-Zambian coffeehouse at the International House.


Edited by Jennifer Brake