VariAsian dance members share two things in common — their love of dance and Korean-pop groups.
The dance group originally started with seven friends who wanted to dance to South Korean music genre K-pop, said Marie Hughey, a junior in the College of Science and director of scheduling for the group.
She said it began with friends going back and forth between name ideas. At one point, they considered “Mango Supreme” because they were eating a cake by that name while brainstorming names for the dance group. But they settled on something else.
“Originally there were Korean, Chinese, and Filipino (people) in the mix of their original seven. And they finally decided, ‘We're a group of various Asians, let's be VariAsian,’” Hughey said.
The group has been around for four semesters and has expanded since.
“So the name is VariAsian, but you don’t have to be Asian to be on the team,” Hughey explained. “It’s a very diverse range (of members).”
The audition process can be difficult, Hughey said.
“We usually have to cut half the people that try out,” she said.
They’re wanting to keep the group at around 40 members, she said, but also expressed how hard it is to cut people during auditions — this year they had around 75 to 80 hopeful performers try out.
“We used to have auditions every semester, but now it is just once a year,” Hughey said.
Larz Lee, a senior in the College of Engineering and director of external communications for the group, said the group has really grown since he was one of the founding members.
He said they typically have an average of four performances a semester, but last spring semester they had eight.
“As we are getting more and more well-known on campus, a lot more people have been inviting us to things,” Lee said.
Juliette Oh, a senior in Krannert, and the director of dance for VariAsian, is another one of the founding members of the group.
“I was never in charge of any leadership as much as I am in here, I feel like I'm getting a lot of experience,” Oh said. “Not just in having a dance community but also being able to meet and work with a lot of people.”
Oh said she was first on an official team when she was in her high school dance group in Korea, traveling to perform in different parts of Asia.
“So that was my first time officially being in a group and I was just in love with it ever since, so I just continued it,” Oh said.
Currently, the group is practicing for Night Market, an event hosted by the Asian American Association at Purdue, and takes place on Sept. 29.
“After that we'll be practicing for a competition in St. Louis, which we actually won last year," Hughey said. "We're trying to win again this year.
The competition is the regional version of a larger event called K-Fest. Hughey said VariAsian competes at Midwest K-Fest and if they win, they get the chance to move to the next round in Chicago.
Oh said the group works together to figure out its pieces, since they do covers of the dances of K-pop idol groups.
“We also did something called Side Project, where we not only did K-pop, but also urban choreography,” Oh said. “Seeing the other people (in the group) have the ability to do urban choreography as well was a big eye-opener for us, and I think that was my favorite part.”
Oh said she enjoys seeing how many people who've taken an interest in the group.
“Just seeing people and how much they’re interested in K-pop — that you had no idea — seeing that every year, and us growing, I think it’s really touching,” Oh said.