Latin dance troupe takes friendships, lessons beyond the dance floor

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"Muevete" roughly translates to "move yourself," but to two DePauw freshmen who have formed the campus's first Latin dance troupe, the Spanish term has a particularly special meaning.

"We all have goals and every day we make strides towards those goals," co-founder John Yates said. "It is our goal to make Muevete a community that will support one another to ‘move themselves' towards their goals both individually and as a unit. It also goes without saying that in Latin dance, it's all in the hips."

Muevete's other co-founder, Jonathan Reyes, wants to bring the message and feel of the Latin dance culture to DePauw with Muevete.

"We wanted to convey the Latin culture in away that encourages the students to feel comfortable in their own skin, move to the beat and embrace the culture through dance," Reyes said.

Founding a dance group isn't a new experience for Yates or Reyes. Both originally from the Bronx, New York, they started a Latin dance troupe together at their high school, Cardinal Hayes. However, the students are confident that Muevete, which is composed of participants from several different backgrounds, has and will continue to go above and beyond their prior expectations.

"The group at DePauw is much different from our high school group in that the students at DePauw seem to be more interested with and committed to the new style of dance," Reyes said.

Yates hopes DePauw students will take an interest in the troupe and try it out.

"Muevete would only add to their DePauw experience because they will learn a new culture, learn about their peers in a completely different way, and graduate with a couple of new dance moves," Yates said.  

As of now, the group is not scheduled to perform at any big DePauw events because their main focus is teaching. They want to let the group members find themselves and their personal style in the dance. Their hope is that in time, when the students are ready, Muevete will perform all over campus and abroad at other events, such as the International Salsa Congress.

Reyes said that when Muevete begins performing, he hopes students will be excited about it and came out to support the team.

"We want even students who are not in the group to still be involved," Reyes said.

For Yates, the best part of leading Muevete is the students' enthusiasm for the troupe itself.

"To hear them during the week say, ‘I can't wait for practice on Saturday,' just makes this whole experience all the better," Yates said. "And to see their excitement and dedication during practice and just laughing and having fun. We could not ask for more."

Reyes also enjoys the group dynamic. Initially, there was some concern that interest in the group would be low.

"I love that all of the students are so willing to try something new, and they look great doing it," Reyes said. "They're not afraid to get their feet wet and ultimately, that's what John and I want."

In addition to beginning their own troupes, Yates and Reyes belong to a community of dancers called the Side Street Kids back home in the Bronx. Being in the group, they not only learned about Latin dance, but also about the potential they had to positively impact their community. They learned to see dancing as not

a competition, but a cultural expression of learning new things, meeting new people, and growing as a strong community. They wanted to implement these morals into the troupe on campus.

"The most exciting thing about starting the group for me is knowing that I am partaking in something on campus that is much bigger than myself," Reyes said. "I'm exciting to bring a new type of dance to DePauw and to be able to pass on what I know."

Yates said Muevete members not only dance together, but also discuss daily life as DePauw students and how they can participate in community service and further enrich their experience on campus.

"We go beyond the dance floor," Yates said. "That's our motto."

Interested?

Muevete's dance rehearsals are held in the Auxiliary Gym, on the second floor of the Lilly Center.

Currently, they take place every Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m.

Interested DePauw students are welcome and encouraged to take part in the practice.