Every month, Awesome Kingston awards a $1,000 grant to a local project that the trustees think will keep Kingston awesome. This month, the Casually Cool K-POP Hip Hop Dance Club was awarded the honour.
Casually Cool is a Queen’s student-run hip-hop, K-POP, and choreography dance group. They provide opportunities to explore different genres of dance while building a dance community through events and competitions.
Launched in September 2022, the group is too “young” to be considered for AMS grants at Queen’s, so Paul Yang, co-founder and co-President of the club, pitched their mission to Awesome Kingston. The Alma Mater Society (AMS) at Queen’s University requires clubs to run for a semester before applying for funding opportunities.
“The grant would really help with our initial startup costs in hosting dance tutorials, running events and participating in events like dance battles!” he shared in his pitch.
Yang began dancing in 2018 – his first year at Queen’s University. From 2018 to 2020, he was part of Kingston Freestyle Dance, where he received advice and mentorship on all things dance.
“I learned so much about musicality and techniques for battling and freestyling,” he shared with Kingstonist. “I felt like I should give back somehow – I genuinely want people to have fun and dance through a fun and inclusive community.”
“We wanted to establish an empowering and supportive friends-like community/platform to meet new people or reconnect with those who are interested in dance, including dancers of all levels, people who want to start learning dance, people who simply love watching dance or who appreciate dance as a form of art,” he continued. “To make this happen, my co-founder Zewei Wang also suggested building our club structures based on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion principles.”
According to Wang, inclusion is more than simply gathering various groups of people together. “It’s about the organization’s proactive efforts to remove barriers to provide everyone with equal access to resources, a diversity of identities and differences between members, and a sense of psychological safety that everyone’s ideas and contributions are appreciated, respected, and supported,” she said. “Therefore, we tried to make every decision on club structures based on those key principles.”
Casually Cool is a collaboration of many students at Queen’s University: Albert Bui, Chutong Yu, Chenyang Xiao, Yunke Liu, Yihong Liu, Zilu Yan, Nizhe Jiang, Zewei Wang, and Paul Yang.
The group has been rolling — or dancing — full steam since September. They’ve had performances, filmed dance covers, and built infrastructure to host two tutorials a week. And there’s more in the works! They’re working on two more dance covers and a Christmas event, which they expect to complete by January 2023.
Yang said that the Awesome Kingston money will go towards paying for studio time, and hopefully new speakers and filming equipment.
Dancers, and those looking to get into the dance world are encouraged to get in touch with Casually Cool. Follow and reach out to them on their Instagram profile, and see some of their videos through these links. They can also be reached over email: [email protected]