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Original photo by Catherine Guo

Zariyah Cope on Her Dancing Journey at Wake and Her Current Obsessions

Zariyah Cope is a sophomore at Wake, and she is currently pursuing a major in Sociology and minoring in Psychology. She was born and raised in Savannah, GA, but throughout high school, she lived in Alexandria, VA. She loves dancing and is a part of a dance crew here at Wake called Momentum! Whenever she is not dancing, she can be found tutoring elementary school students, being a Big Sis at Sister’s Circle, watching movies, or taking naps. The organizations she is a part of have given her the chance to connect with people of diverse backgrounds at Wake Forest!

Her Campus: Congratulations on your first choreography piece! You looked absolutely stunning! How long did it take to come up with the dance moves and what was the inspiration behind them?

Zariyah Cope: Thank you so much! It honestly took a very long time to figure out the choreo since it was both my friend’s and I’s first time choreographing a piece, especially for hip hop. We were lost because everyone has different styles for hip hop, and we took HOURS choosing a song and nearly two hours for coming up with the first half of the dance. We thought we did so much in the first 40 seconds of the dance but that was not the case. We wanted to incorporate pieces that would feel inclusive for everyone, so we got our inspiration from a bunch of older videos and just threw a bunch of moves in! 

HC: What led you to choose Nicki Minaj’s song?

ZC: Our team was almost an all-girls team at some point, and we began to do a lot of dances to female artists. We originally had 10 songs to choose from and every time we found ourselves going back to Nicki. Something about her song just made us really hype and, honestly, her song felt empowering. 

HC: As a dancer, I’m sure you look up to a lot of other talented people, who are some of your greatest inspirations? 

ZC: My two biggest inspirations are Amanda LaCount and Misty Copeland! Amanda is a plus-sized dancer who is breaking boundaries and stereotypes about plus-sized women in the dance world and showing that anybody can dance not just a certain body type. Growing up, there’s always been little representation of dancers who are black or not white especially in the ballet world and seeing Misty Copeland become a principal dancer at one of the most prestigious ballet companies was just super empowering growing as a dancer. 

HC: What’s your favorite style of dance? When you’re dancing with Momentum do you sometimes find yourself falling towards a ballet mindset?

ZC: I’ve learned ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, lyrical, and modern, but my favorite has always been ballet. And oh yes, definitely. I think growing up that’s probably why I didn’t like hip-hop as much because they would be like, “Losen up some more, Zariyah” and in ballet, I had to be rigid and structured and it was always so hard for me to transition from ballet to hip-hop and vice vera. Momentum has definitely pushed me to loosen up and have fun. 

HC: What has been the biggest reward for you since joining Momentum?

ZC: The relationships I’ve established from the beginning have been amazing. The constant encouragement and hype from the crew in and out of practice have given me more confidence in dancing and in my daily life. They’re just the sweetest people and I’m so thankful for them!

HC: Ok, now for some lighthearted questions, what is your favorite movie? 

ZC: Hmm, I would have to go with Princess and the Frog (or any Disney princess movie really). I was so obsessed with it growing up…I watched it every day after school once the movie came out on DVD. I eventually memorized the entire movie, line by line. 

HC: What movie or show would you recommend for those who want to procrastinate on work (aka myself)?

ZC: For shows, I would say any K-drama just because I know I have to read the subtitles in order to know what’s going on. Currently watching It’s Okay to Not be Okay and it’s so good! The main girl character is just so bold. What a queen! For movies, I would say the third Shrek movie. No explanation needed. 

HC: On the topic of K-dramas, which shows have you watched?

ZC: I’ve watched so many shows…Crash Landing on You, Weightlifting Fairy, Strong Woman Do Bong-Soon, Secretary Kim, Legend of the Blue Sea, and Itaewon Class. Crash Landing on You was a real tear-jerker…I cried so much watching it (highly recommend it though)!

HC: Lastly, what’s a song that you are currently obsessed with?

ZC: Currently obsessed with One Direction’s "C’mon C’mon". It’s such a bop! And I have been playing "Love Talk" by WayV on REPEAT. 

Catherine is a sophomore here at Wake Forest and is from Lynchburg Virginia. She intends to major in Economics and double minor in statistics and psychology!
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