‘A built-in little community’: Northwestern students find support, family in Fusion


Daily file photo by Seeger Gray

Prospective Fusion members dance to “Efecto” by Bad Bunny in an open class.

Maya Ravi, Reporter

When Weinberg senior Tasha Lee joined Fusion her freshman year in 2019, she didn’t realize how integral the dance group would be to finding community at Northwestern. 

The COVID-19 pandemic caused Lee to move back to her home in Hong Kong, China her freshman year. Returning to campus her junior year, Lee turned to Fusion for a source of social support.

“It was really hard for me to integrate back into college because I was only here for like six months, and then I had to leave,” Lee, Fusion’s external relations director, said. “Fusion as a whole has really helped me a lot in making friends and getting to know new people … and finding the people that I truly click with.” 

The 40-person collegiate dance team performs in a wide array of styles, including but not limited to hip-hop, popping, waacking, jazz and contemporary. The team is known on campus for its shows in ReFusionShaka, one of Northwestern’s largest performances, as well as its own spring event, which sold out in 2022.

McCormick junior and Fusion Company Manager and Social Chair Mika Ng said Fusion’s executive board prioritizes wellness and inclusion, as well as community, especially given its diverse members.

Ng said students from different majors come together to support each other’s degrees and interests by going to their teammates’ acapella performances and doing photo projects with journalism majors.

“Overall, you can never have too many people focusing on improving the wellbeing of Northwestern students,” Ng said. “I really wanted to make Fusion a place that people would be able to feel is their home.”

Ng said she especially enjoys when she can dance to songs that everyone on and offstage are familiar with, like when she performed the “Boss Ladies” dance from “Dance Moms.” 

The sense of community Fusion prioritizes is what made Communication junior Maddie Morse want to audition for the dance company even before she attended NU.

“When I was applying, I was looking at their YouTube, I was looking at their Instagram and there was so much cohesion, there was so much energy,” Morse said. “There was so much that you could see and tell from a video about their relationship to each other.”

Morse said she appreciates the team’s ability to create a safe and supportive space for its members, and she has enjoyed being able to help create that environment. She was inspired to support fellowFusion members this year as the team’s co-PR chair.  

Weinberg freshman and new Fusion member Jamila Sam said she felt included in Fusion from the beginning, even during the competitive audition process.

“What I loved about it was they’re so welcoming,” Sam said. “Even when the roster of new members came out on Instagram, I had so many DMs saying, ‘We’re so excited to have you!’”

Sam said she also found support through Fusion’s “parent” system. All new members are paired with upperclassmen to support them throughout their time in the dance group.

Now rehearsing regularly with Fusion, Sam said she is excited for the team’s upcoming performance in ReFusionShaka. She is inspired by her Fusion “parents” to choreograph in the future. 

“You have someone to mentor you and you have someone that you can always go to,” Sam said. “It’s almost like a built-in little community before you even really get started.”

Sam’s “parent,” Bienen sophomore Justice Gardner, said the system is what makes Fusion’s community special to him, especially since he gets to see everyone succeeding in different stages of their college careers.

Gardner’s “family” in Fusion has made the team the highlight of his college experience, he said.

“A lot of my best friends are in Fusion — or I guess a lot of Fusion is my best friend,” Gardner said. “I wouldn’t trade any of it.”

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