Students find freedom and family through dance


Symiah Dorsey/The Lion's Roar

Pictured left to right, Kourtni Harris, Cilicia Thornton and Riketta Griffin are proud members of the Flipside dance team. For them, Flipside has provided them with a way to alleviate stress and embrace cultural heritage.

For over 15 years, a dance organization on campus has provided a safe space for students to embody their culture and alleviate their stress.

Flipside, a dance group founded by Southeastern alum Anthony Jackson in 2005, is home to dance enthusiasts of various talent levels. Recently, members of the group performed at an African American culture exhibition on campus.

Cilicia Thornton, a senior psychology major, found Flipside after transferring to Southeastern from the University of Georgia. She wanted to join a dance team that would allow her to express herself freely and said Flipside was the right place for her.

“For me, dance is an outlet. It really is a therapy session. I really love music, so to be able to feel the music through you and to be able to express that is really a beautiful thing for me. It’s a stress reliever for me,” Thornton said.

Kourtni Harris, a junior health sciences major, said dancing with her friends is the best way to end any day.

“It’s just always been a passion for me. I’ve been dancing for a long time, so no matter what kind of day you’re having, whether it’s good or bad, it’s just good to get in there and be in your own zone and let all the stress out,” Harris said.

According to Thornton, even modern dances have a way of connecting people back to their ancestors.

She said, “To be able to express ourselves in a way that embodies our culture, it really gives us the opportunity to connect back with our ancestors. Let’s say we do a cultural dance, like a African-based dance or a Carribean-based dance, it really gives you the opportunity to put yourself in that space.”

Thornton said she appreciates the relaxed structure of the Flipside dance group, which allows her to be free.

“It’s also just a way to have fun. Our music is really lively and it just embodies a lot of positive feels. It’s not as structured as a formal dance team. It allows us to be free,” Thornton said.

Ricketta Griffin, a graduating senior majoring in social work, said Flipside is a way for students of color to have fun and be seen.

“Due to Southeastern being a PWI [predominately white institution], I feel like it’s a way for us to be seen and not get overlooked. It’s a way for us to enjoy ourselves on campus,” Griffin said.

Harris said the group hopes to hold auditions again, but they are taking it slow in caution of the current circumstances.

“With COVID, it’s been really rocky, and we’re still debating if we want to do auditions because we have a lot of people graduating this year. We’re still trying to get the logistics of everything,” Harris said.

Although Flipside has become a sisterhood, Harris assured the team is open to all students.

“We even tried waiving audition fees in the past to get guys to try out, but we haven’t had any guys join. Flipside is open to male and female students,” Harris said.

Thornton encouraged anyone with a love for music and dance to look into Flipside.

“It’s a way to free yourself. You can teach yourself to be a dancer, and you can surprise yourself. If you have a love for music and you love to dance, Flipside is definitely something to try,” Thornton said.

Everyone on the team becomes one when they are dancing together, according to Griffin.She said, “We are a family, we have a bond. Every person on the team is different, but when we come together we are as one, we’re Flipside.”

The Flipside dance team is active on Instagram @flipsidedanceselu.