Fatima Hayat, BEng (Hons) Biomedical Engineering
The University of Bradford is home to more than 50 clubs and societies where students can not only learn and hone their skills but also find catharsis from rigorous academics.
Although I had arrived at Bradford after the first Fresher’s Fair, all societies were easily available to me, through the university website. Upon starting my first days at the university, I had committed myself to achieve all of my academic goals. It was not long after cooping myself into my dorm room and adhering to my 10-hours-a-day study plan, that some of my friends suggested me to join the Infuzion Dance Crew, a society based on different styles of dance, including hip-hop, afro beats, contemporary and more.
As a person who had no prior athletic ability or stamina, let alone the experience of ever dancing, the idea initially seemed absurd. However, feeling freshly homesick at the time and struggling to find local activities outside of studies, I decided to give it a go.
Getting to grips
The session began with an intense warm-up and was followed directly with the hip-hop choreo to Missy Elliott’s ‘On and On’. As we were going through the moves, I focused more on getting the moves right, instead of adding any of my own styles. When I was struggling to learn one of the moves, the President, Laurel, approached me and helped me- she taught me that the integral part of dancing was to enjoy the moment. I was expecting all members to have the same professional skill level but gathered in the Biko Room were beginners and professionals alike. That made me realize what drove them was not their skill level or capability, but their love and passion for dance.
What shocked me the most was that the exec team of dance instructors were all students themselves, who were elected by the society members. Members were free to add in their own twists to their own moves and some choreographed dances as well!
I was overwhelmed by the support offered to me and it wasn’t long before I was attending the weekly sessions and learnt all the different styles of dance. All the members grew closer and bonded during the weekly socials, where members organised different activities with other societies, allowing more individuals to socialise. On some occasions, the members showed off their polished choreos.
I found myself living a more productive lifestyle, now I had to balance my workload, extra-curricular’s and social life- I was able to manage my time more wisely. After dance, I felt refreshed and found myself to be more active. Exhausted after sessions, I would sleep earlier and would wake up early the next day, contrary to the all-nighters I would be pulling formerly.
On the 25th-27th of March, the University of Bradford competed against the University of Huddersfield in a series of sports and athletics in the yearly Varsity event.
Infuzion performed on the first day to support the Bradford teams. Although the women’s netball team lost, we made sure to applaud all their efforts and that further drove us into putting up our best performances to show the true spirit of Team Bradford. As preparations for the first match were still being made, we found whatever open space to practice and perfect our act. Before our performance, all the members talked with each other to back each other up. All the instructors emphasised on having fun along with dancing. We gathered around each other and chanted our slogan:
“By Fire, By Force!”
And so it began – the showcase of our months of effort. As the first performers started to dance, I started feeling my muscles tense and my heart race. One of my greatest fears at the time was messing up one of the moves – I was afraid of ruining everyone’s efforts along with mine. And then there were thoughts of why I was there in the first place- was I worthy enough to even perform in the first place? What if I get in the way of everyone else?
I took deep long breaths and let go of all the thoughts with each breath. As the music started, I counted the beats in my mind as I waited for my part. As I started moving, I focused not only on the precision of each move but I tried as much as I could to express them as well. I looked at the audience in the eye, repeatedly telling myself to exude more confidence.
And it was finally over. The 6 months we spent honing our skills was over in less than 10 minutes. We were met with a roar of applause and cheers from both sides of the crowds. Although there were parts I could have danced better, or could be more expressive, I felt so proud. I felt proud of moving out of my comfort zone and having participated in this event. I felt proud of overcoming my anxiety. And I felt proud of being part of this amazing family.
After the performance, we all embraced and congratulated each other for the successful performance. The whole experience had been an absolute thrill and I wished the moment lasted a while longer. Drained from our performance and hoping our energy got through, we sat there cheering for the team with our remaining strength and jumped in joy as Team Bradford emerged winners of the basketball match.
On the journey back, we simply chatted and bonded over some of our favourite music. Even after arriving at the stop, we walked together in the harmonious street before breaking off and departing to our dorms. Each time we separated, we longed more to be able to perform once again. I am not a good dancer yet, in fact, far from it. Although I am not good enough, I still feel proud of myself for learning a new skill. And I will continue to do so until I can call myself a true member of the Infuzion Dance Crew.