Student View: Bringing hip-hop to the Hill
In this Student View column, Kiara Jones ’21 shares her experience founding and leading M.I.X., St. Olaf’s student hip-hop dance club.
BY KIARA JONES ’21
One day during my first year on campus, I was hip-hop dancing in the studio with my friend Becky Webb ’21 when a professor stopped by to tell us about an upcoming show for St. Olaf College dancers.
The name of the show was Fresh Space, and she wanted to know if we were interested in signing up to perform. We were — but we wanted to dance as part of a group rather than just the two of us.
Later that week, we started choreographing more and another friend wanted to learn the dance. That’s when we got the idea to include more people and find others we thought would be interested in performing with us. We had countless rehearsals and worked so hard on our routine. It was a hit.
After the actual performance, we realized how much fun it was to dance together. We also realized that because there were no groups on campus that did hip-hop, we would need to form our own. So after Fresh Space, we decided to create an official student organization called M.I.X.
M.I.X. is a hip-hop dance club on campus created by me (Kiara Jones ’21) and my friend Becky. I’m an American Studies major with a concentration in Management Studies. Becky is an Economics major with a concentration in Management Studies. We met during the St. Olaf TRIO summer program, and have been trained in a variety of dance forms. However, our love for hip-hop has made it our primary focus in M.I.X.
As Becky says, M.I.X. “is another outlet for students to meet more of their peers, get out of their comfort zone, and support one another when we need it most.”
M.I.X. provides for a space for students of all backgrounds to dance in a group that promotes diversity and inclusivity. Although we are a hip-hop based dance group, we consist of members of all ethnicities and genders who share the same passion. We started this group solely for that purpose while recognizing that hip-hop dance was not very prevalent on campus. Therefore, we felt this was an opportunity to shed a light on the small but growing presence of hip-hop dance and overall diversity within the St. Olaf community.
Each show we perform is really special, and our organization is continuing to grow. Gaining more recognition on campus and being asked to perform by different organizations lets us know that we’ve made great strides in the St. Olaf community.
Through this club, we’ve been able to spread awareness of hip-hop culture and showcase how it bleeds into different genres of dance and music. We’ve performed at the annual Latinx festival, halftime shows for basketball games, Pause dances, and shows curated by the Dance Department.
M.I.X. has also given Becky and me an opportunity to develop as leaders and creatives; we both have explored our entrepreneurial sides and have used our skills as captains to pursue other endeavors. I’m an aspiring artist and started releasing music last year. Becky on the other hand has started her own company, House of Drip, selling mink lashes. Although lashes are the only product she’s selling, she plans on offering more items in the future and expanding her business.
There’s clearly overlap with M.I.X. and our personal ventures. Collaboration, persistence, communication, and outreach have all been applied in and out of our club, and we’re glad we’ve been able to grow in those areas.
Lastly, we are happy to be fostering a community where all dancers feel empowered — it has been a rewarding experience. As Becky says, “M.I.X. is its own little family on campus,” and we’re glad it’s able to enrich the St. Olaf community by providing entertainment while creating a much-needed and greater appreciation for an overlooked genre of dance in the St. Olaf culture.
Through this, M.I.X. hopes to find dancers/leaders that will keep the legacy of this club alive even after Becky and I graduate.
Our first performance of the semester will be held on Thursday, October 15, at 11 a.m. on the Buntrock Commons Plaza. Please show your hip-hop club some support!