Pulse Dance Troupe continues to find success

With a growing presence on campus, Pulse Dance Troupe brings to styles of dance together.


Photo by Mohammed F Emran | Web Editor

Emily Creighton, Features Editor

CaptureWith Usher blasting in the background and laughter reverberating off of the walls of a room in Live Oak Pavillion, a group of 15 students practice routines filled with everything from popping and locking to tutting every Tuesday night.

Flash forward to Wednesday evening in a studio located in the Arts and Letters building, with wall-to-wall mirrors and barres. Another group of 15 students plie and pirouette to classical music with the soft pattering of ballet shoes on the studio floor.

Finally, on Saturday afternoon, the two worlds of these hip-hop and contemporary teams come together to form Pulse Dance Troupe.

The group was founded at Florida Atlantic in 2011 as an unregistered organization under the name “Florida Atlantic Dance Theatre” with the hope of building a dance community. After four years, becoming a registered student organization and a name change, Pulse is becoming a staple on the Boca Raton campus.

“Orientation, I came to the school and I didn’t really see any dance organizations here,” said founder and senior Akeem Edwards. “It was apparent that the organization was needed on the campus, and students were happy to have finally found a place on campus where they can let their creative minds wander.”

He continued, “The goal of Pulse Dance Troupe is to form a creative outlet for students while helping them improve their skills and also exposing the FAU community to the different styles and forms of dance.”

With a hip-hop team and a contemporary team — hip-hop featuring “jazz-funk, popping, and locking,” and contemporary housing “a collection of ballet, jazz, and modern styles” — Pulse Dance Troupe has an exclusive membership of approximately 30 student-dancers with a wide range of backgrounds in the field.

Edwards began dancing a little over six years ago, building a repertoire in multiple dance styles during his time at the Jacksonville Centre for the Arts before coming to FAU.

With a push from his dance instructors back home, Edwards took initiative and started the group with about 12 friends and hopeful performers.

The fact that they didn’t begin as a registered student organization led them to a small turnout for their first audition, only pulling in about 15 dancers that comprised two teams. But, after becoming official and blowing up their presence on social media — they currently have a combined number of 883 followers on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook — people began to recognize Pulse.

The hip - hop team of Pulse Dance Troupe pose  during their Tuesday practice. Mohammed F Emran | Web Editor
The hip – hop team of Pulse Dance Troupe pose during their Tuesday practice. Mohammed F Emran | Web Editor

In 2014, approximately 80 students of all backgrounds turned out for fall auditions — a two-week process. Cuts were made, but those students were encouraged to continue to dance and try again next semester.

“In a dancer, we look for energy, how well they learn the moves and how well they perform the moves,” Vice President and Fitness Coordinator Taneshia Pierre said. “Even if you don’t know the moves and you’re performing — that’s the biggest part.”

Edwards confirmed this, saying, “If you can dance and you can pick up the movement, I don’t care what you look like.”

Although everyone who auditions has equal opportunity of making it in Pulse, the decision to have two teams was a calculated one to make sure each dancer could live up to their full potential.

Pierre explained, “The dancers [on the contemporary team] that we have are really advanced. Like, it would look bad if we put someone who is not that advanced with them … That team is actually trained. So, they’re trained very extensively. But, with hip-hop, if you can dance, we’ve got a spot for you.”

The two teams work cohesively when they join forces and enjoy seeing what the other brings to the stage.

“This year, I’ve noticed the hip-hop team has been a lot more technical with their movements and it really complements them as dancers and as a team,” said Samantha Arbonida, a junior on the contemporary side of Pulse. “It shows that they can do more than just twerk for show. On the other hand, where contemporary includes dancers who are very technically trained, we are inspired by the hip-hop team and their ability to make any performance one you don’t want to miss.”

The contemporary team of Pulse Dance Troupe pose during their Wednesday evening practice. Mohammed F Emran |  Web Editor
The contemporary team of Pulse Dance Troupe pose during their Wednesday evening practice. Mohammed F Emran | Web Editor

Nia Awonsa, a senior marketing major who has been a member of Pulse for two years, described herself as mainly a hip-hop dancer, but she also joins the contemporary team’s practices.  “They are extremely different,” Awonsa said. “The main differences are that contemporary practices are much quieter and smaller compared to hip-hop as there are more members in hip-hop. In contemporary, I have to be extremely focused because it is more technical and if I miss something, it could mess up the entire piece.”

Awonsa continued, “Overall, even though each team within Pulse is different, they provide a dancer like myself a basis for which I can grow and expand my talents and abilities within dance.”

With this mindset, Pulse has had success on and off of campus.

Capture“All of a sudden, everyone started asking for performances,” said Edwards. “Now, it’s getting to the point where we’re having to say no because so many people are asking for performances, like outside of FAU as well.”

On top of performing at basketball games this year in hopes of creating a strong relationship with FAU Athletics and events such as FAU’s Black Student Union’s 2015 Fashion Show, Pulse won New Student Organization of the Year in 2012 and Apollo Night in 2013 — a talent show hosted by Program Board where the audience judges the performers. They also were invited to the Baldwin house to perform for President John Kelly for last year’s Halloween party.

“I would say our biggest performance would probably be Apollo Night,” recalled Edwards. “That performance kind of like set the stage for what was to come because we had so many factors playing against us and then we still won.”

They have also had several opportunities off campus to show just what they can do. Word of mouth has landed them appearances at studios, step shows and a fashion show with an audience upwards of 700 people. Pulse is more than happy to accept the recognition. Edwards hopes to get involved in competitions and eventually host one at FAU.

With all of their success and the hope of the team’s continued presence, Edwards and the other senior members are preparing to pass on the torch as they graduate.

“I just hope everybody’s devoted enough … You have to be willing to sacrifice your time, your energy, your patience. You have to be willing to set all of that aside to do work for the organization,” said Edwards.

“I have high hopes,” said Pierre. “I think we’ll be leaving it in great hands. Everyone here loves dance and they love this organization, so I’m not really worried. I think Pulse is just gonna grow from here.”