Who We Are

Founded on the pillars of service and multiculturalism, Defining Movement was created out of a need seen on Duke’s campus for a diverse organization that transcends the lines of race, gender, background, beliefs, and more. Defining Movement uniquely promotes acceptance, unity, and diversity through art. With a common passion for dance, students of completely different backgrounds come together to try new dance styles, explore other cultures, and learn more about one another, all while bringing their own experiences to the group.

Unlike other cultural groups on campus, rather than taking a political approach, our founders endeavored to form a group that would manifest these ideals by its very existence. By incorporating a wide variety of dance styles and cultural roots, Defining Movement aims to challenge the preconceived notions attached to specific types of dance and to encourage dialogue about stereotypes in today’s society.


The concept of Defining Movement began early 2002, in the midst of preparations for the Duke Asian Students Association's annual Lunar New Year cultural showcase, which was produced that year by Defining Movement President Christina Chang. The theme for LNY 2002 had been "Definitions", the idea being that "culture" could not be defined by images, coined phrases, customs, way of dress, or even by certain types of people and characteristics. At the same time, it was a celebration of the clearly defined young people in today's society, a generation that could no longer be denied and that needed to be embraced and recognized.

Fueled by the momentum from LNY, Christina met with her friend, Fran Lebajo, and together they solidified the idea of creating a group that would no longer settle for token diversity, but actively set out to embrace the diversity that is often spoken of as being edifying to the community. Both girls, who loved to dance and who also believed that we are all common people, decided to create a multicultural dance organization – one that would promote the acceptance and appreciation of individual differences in a spirit of friendship, while encouraging them to go beyond their comfort zone.

The girls got together with fellow friends and dancers Sonia Cheung and Jeff Wu to discuss the vision of this group and its planning stages. After much discourse, the name "Defining Movement" was chosen to represent the physically artistic nature of the group as well as its socio-political aspect. Thus, Defining Movement was created, and the revolution had begun.

With the recruitment of our first class of dancers that Fall, Defining Movement has since worked to establish its presence on and off campus by showcasing a variety of innovative dances, all while publicizing our core purpose and vision for our community. Today, DefMo continues to challenge stereotypes, to explore, to reach out, to cross boundaries, to set a standard, and most of all, to dance.