THE CHANGE AMONG US: VFO
Chelsea Johnson, staff writer | English major
APU’s first hip-hop ministry team breaks it down on campus and in the community.
The VFO dance team (pictured above) is making an impact in the community and on campus with their pops and locks. (Photo by Anthony Tilar).
APU may frown upon unorganized dance parties, but it’s first ever hip-hop ministry team Variety for One (VFO) has found a way to break it down. Decked in sweats or high-tops, they pop, roll and slide to create a unique art form. Watching them dance is like observing a community—each run-through is followed by applause and the raucous echo of familial laughter.
Yet VFO is doing more than eight counts. Senior sociology major and administrative captain Amanda Carmassi can be seen helping the group with intricate movements or planning events with her warn-for-wear event-crammed calendar in hand. VFO belongs to APU’s recently formed Dance Organization of APU that is currently in the process of being made “official.”
“VFO is a variety of dancers with all different backgrounds and all different styles, but we all come together with one purpose, which is to serve God and the community with the talent we have been given,” Carmassi said.
Every other weekend VFO offers free dance clinics where students of all dance backgrounds can gather to learn dance styles from swing to hip-hop. “Our target are those people who secretly want to dance, but have never been given the opportunity or the encouragement,” Carmassi said.
VFO also brings rhythm to the community outside of APU with their weekly visits to the Homework House and sponsorship of events like Hip Hop for Freedom on campus, which brings awareness to issues like human trafficking, sexism, racism, and consumerism. “Our dances are reflective of our response to these issues,” Carmassi said.
Freshman liberal studies major Kaila Long joined VFO because of her love of dance, but was surprised to find a family. As a team, Long feels they work like a family unit through the medium of dance, calling each other out while offering a safe place for vulnerability. “[VFO] is being able to perform with people that you know care about you,” Long said.
Senior international business major Kat Pascual agrees. She’s been on the team for four years and is proud to see all of their hard work come to fruition. “I am super proud to leave behind this legacy,” Pascual said. She’s referring to the tight-knit family of artists that she describes as a group who dance not only to heal themselves, but also to promote healing in their community.
As a whole, VFO is committed to this narrative art form—hip-hop dancing. “My favorite part is being able to create something that people can connect to,” Pascual said. And they’re doing just that—challenging their bodies to tell common stories that connect us all.