Polaris shines bright with dance covers

Sofia Meinardus | Mercury Staff

Immersed in the electrifying beats of K-pop music, students at UTD aren’t just dancing; they’re finding a love for performance, fashion and more through the choreography of their favorite idols. Among these devotees is Polaris, a K-pop cover dance group that gives Comets a chance for self-expression.

Though not formally affiliated with UTD, Polaris began in 2018 under the name Half and Half with both male and female dancers. Led by molecular biology alum Tiffany Boone, the group has since evolved into an ensemble of 13 to 15 members, rehearsing once a week in ECSN. Polaris choreographs and films K-pop dances based on their favorite idols – Korean celebrities with carefully curated images – and performs these routines for fun across the DFW area. Coming together over music, the group members have found a way to express themselves and strengthen their ability to work with others.

“I want everyone to feel really comfortable with each other … we’re friends and not just colleagues,” Boone said.

The group is currently working on three projects that they hope to wrap up this month: choreography to “Sweet Juice” by Purple Kiss, “Impurities” by Le SSerafim and “Fancy” by Twice. Polaris welcomes people of all backgrounds, so long as they have an interest in K-pop and dance.

“Luckily, with this group, I was able to find so many close people with me and developed such strong friendships just because we had one similar interest, which was K-pop,” Boone said. “And since then, my relationships have grown so much. I think it’s a big part of me, not because … I like it so much, but it’s because of what it gave me in life.”

Weekly rehearsals, supplemented by additional sessions as needed, are typically held in the afternoon following work or class commitments. Boone said that having practices later in the day can sometimes lead to low energy levels or increase friction between members. To prevent conflict, the team reduces stress through post-practice outings as well as open communication and bonding activities.

“First of all, we wanna have fun … and want to make something that we also can be proud of,” Boone said. “So sometimes if there’s some difficulties, just coming together to see and talk about whatever’s happening in life eases everyone’s tensions and makes the pressure a lot smaller.”

Healthcare management senior Dominique Nguyen said she was initially skeptical to join due to past negative encounters with dance groups; however, she found she was accepted in Polaris, describing it as something like a family.

“I was welcomed in,” Nguyen said. “At my first practice, it already felt so natural to be a part of the team … and it felt so nice that it’s like they’re my entire world. I love them, and I’m so thankful that I get to be part of a team that’s not competitive, to be in such a relaxed environment. But at the same time, everybody tries hard and everybody performs to the best … It’s so heartwarming and I love it.”

Polaris finds inspiration for outfits from the diverse wardrobe choices of the K-pop groups they cover in their performances. Similarly to the industry’s range of fashion, K-pop blends many different dance styles from hip-hop to ballet, and Nguyen says the variety is what makes the genre so popular.

“We generally try to follow the general vibe of the song and then put in our own flair in,” Nguyen said. “… we love finding new styles and elements to experiment with through K-pop concept photos and stage performances!”

Naomi Mills, UTD alumnus and Polaris co-leader, said that members actively contribute to all group functions, including set design to editing and social media management. Mills also said that Polaris is a strong social outlet, helping members meet like-minded individuals and explore shared interests.

“It’s more like friends dancing together than it is like competitive auditions and stuff like that, which is really cutthroat,” Nguyen said.

Prospective members are required to submit dance audition videos and can join by reaching out to the group over Instagram. Upon acceptance, members are integrated into the group’s Discord channel and briefed on ongoing projects and how the group functions. Mills said that attending practices post-graduation is a highlight of her week, offering a break from the stress of her nine-to-five job.

“It’s family,” Mills said. “I love them, you know? Happy to have them and wouldn’t want anyone else to take their place.”

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