Farmington Hills resident cast in global online dance festival

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published July 21, 2020

 Marcel Lim, 47, of Farmington Hills, was selected and cast to participate in the 2020 online Fusion Fighters Dance Festival July 30-Aug. 6.

Marcel Lim, 47, of Farmington Hills, was selected and cast to participate in the 2020 online Fusion Fighters Dance Festival July 30-Aug. 6.

Photo provided by Marcel Lim

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FARMINGTON HILLS — Seven years ago, in 2013, Farmington Hills resident Marcel Lim, 47, found a flier in downtown Farmington advertising Irish dance classes at the Dancing Feats studio. At the time, he knew little of the dance style, but after his first class, he became hooked.

Since then, Lim has participated in a variety of local and national Irish dance competitions, even the world competition the last three years. There’s been one dance festival — the Fusion Fighters Dance Festival — Lim wanted to participate in, but because of travel, he couldn’t.

All of that changed this year with the festival’s pivot to producing the festival entirely online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lim was selected as one of approximately 80-90 cast members from across the globe for the annual event.

“This is my first time. I’m actually really excited. I’ve known Fusion Fighters for a while now,” Lim said, adding that he met them at the 2015 world competition. “They always have this annual dance festival, but it’s always been in England or Ireland, and I’ve always never been able to make it because I couldn’t take the time off.

“This year, because of the COVID-19 situation, they’ve offered for the first time an online dance festival, so I took my chance. I wasn’t going to let this pass by.”

Lim works as a program manager for Ford Motor Co.

Fusion Fighters is a modern Irish dance group that was formed by Bristol, England, resident Chris Naish in 2013. The group began as a small, pop-up dance troop before quickly growing in popularity, garnering 100,000 online followers and millions of video views, Fusion Dance Festival Administrator and dancer Sophia Rankin wrote in an email.

In 2015, Fusion Fighters created their signature event — the dance festival — where over the course of one week, dancers of all ages, skill ranges and schools typically come together to create a large-scale choreographed show to perform in Limerick, Ireland.

As Lim gears up for the online festival, slated to broadcast July 30-Aug. 6 with video tutorials, online classes, social events and a finale video performance of compiled cast member footage, he’s excited to enhance his skills and gain exposure beyond the local circuit.

Being able to participate isn’t the only silver lining Lim has found from this year’s festival, either. It’s forced him to think outside of the box and allowed him to reconnect with other dancers, something he hasn’t done while cooped up in his home from the pandemic.

“Obviously, with a lot of restrictions in mind, it has forced a lot of people to think about different ways to promote their passion or activities,” he said. “Same thing with us in Irish dancing. It’s difficult to perform online because we’re all isolated, and we’re used to performing as a group, but it has forced us to look into different ways to try and use the internet to put something together.”

Rankin added that fostering the sense of connection COVID-19 has stripped away has been a big goal, and worry, for the festival organizers this year. Still, she’s optimistic.

“We’ve been worried about the fact that it’s not in person anymore for the final performance, and trying to manage how people can still stay connected while they’re not seeing each other face to face … but I think this will bring our community closer together because (the pandemic) has been so difficult to manage,” she said. “I think people are ready to find a new normal, and everyone is really motivated to make this the largest (dance festival) we’ve had. It’s going to be great.”

Claiming the title of “Only Asian in a Kilt” due to the lack of male and Asian people involved in the dance style, Lim hopes the dance festival can entertain people and help expose them to the art of Irish dance.

“With the COVID-19 situation, and everyone being isolated, people are always looking for a chance to be entertained somehow, and I think this would provide that and a lot of exposure for this kind of entertainment to get more people to enjoy (it).”

For more information on Fusion Fighters and to tune into the final performance, visit www.fusionfightersdance.com.

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