Dance groups prepare for Showdown competition


Brighton Dance Studios have been buzzing in recent weeks. Hip-hop music echoes off the walls of the building. Tap shoes leave scuff marks on the scarred floor of a studio room, and feet gently dab against the surface as dancers walk around to take sips of water. Dancers from 16 of Boston College’s dance teams rush down the hall, lining up at the water fountain.

The dance teams practiced their routines for ALC Showdown, which is due to take place on March 19, in spaces across campus, from Brighton Dance Studios to Carney Hall. But even if the dancers pass each other in the hallways of the dance studio, they won’t divulge any details about their team’s chosen theme for the performance, according to Angela Liew, co-president of AEROdynamiK Dance Crew (AeroK) and Lynch ’22. .

“Your theme is your biggest secret weapon,” Liew said.

Kathleen Fox, co-chair of BC Irish Dance and CSOM ’22, said keeping the band’s theme a secret creates suspense for the competition.

“We’re all technically rehearsing for the same performance, and there’s just an underlying understanding that if we keep each other’s secrets, it’ll be better anyway,” Fox said.

According to Destiny Gonzalez, president of Phaymus Dance Entertainment and MCAS ’24, the competition aspect inspires teams to put on their best performances on the Conte Forum stage.

“Competition play is always fun,” Gonzalez said. “We love all the other dance organizations, but it gives everyone a little more incentive to dance a little harder and really get out there and do their best. It guarantees excellence all around.

This year’s Showdown competition runs earlier in the semester than in previous years. Showdown 2019 was held on April 1, and the 2018 contest was held on April 15.

This weekend’s competition will mark the return of this BC tradition after two years of cancellations. In 2020, students were sent home in March due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic before the competition could take place. But, in the frenetic days of tidying up the dorms, the dancers came together for an impromptu performance of their unfinished routines on the lawn in front of 2150 Commonwealth Ave.

Last year, ALC canceled the event in response to racist incidents on campus and scheduling difficulties brought on by the pandemic. Instead, OSI offered dance groups time to record their performances at the Conte Forum.

According to Lubens Benjamin, UGBC President of the AHANA+ Leadership Council (ALC) and CSOM ’23, the Showdown planning committee informed the dance teams on December 17 that the competition would take place in the spring to assess the interest of the teams to participate. After coordinating with the BC athletics schedule and arena availability, Benjamin informed the teams of the January 27 competition date.

Benjamin said the Showdown planning team secured additional practice space for the dance teams to help them prepare for the previous competition date.

Sixteen dance groups will participate in the competition this year. Sexual Chocolate, Full Swing and Females Incorporating Sisterhood Through Step (FISTS) did not respond to requests for comment.

After learning the date of this year’s competition, the dance team presidents sent a letter to ALC requesting that the competition be held later in the semester, according to Danielle Salina, president of the Boston College Dance Ensemble (BCDE) and MCAS. ’22 .

Matthew Razek, associate director of student programming for the Office of Student Involvement (OSI) and advisor to UGBC, said the date could not be changed due to the availability of Conte Forum and the availability of GBM6 , the production company working to put on the show .

“Before locking down this day, we did everything we could to see if there was an option later knowing that later is preferred by performance groups,” Razek said in an email. “But when it didn’t seem possible, we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to host the show this year (or delay setting a date so teams could plan ahead) and decided that the show had to continue.”

After learning in January that ALC’s 2022 showdown was set to return this spring, many groups began rehearsing their routines. Divya Kumar, MCAS ’23 and Masti’s co-captain, says the Bollywood-fusion dance group has doubled its regular weekly workouts from two to four.

Fuego del Corazón began meeting five times a week after learning of Showdown’s confirmation, said Fiona Hanly, MCAS ’22, co-captain of the Latin dance team.

But some groups started conceptualizing their themes and routines last semester, before they even knew for sure that ALC would be hosting Showdown. Liew said AeroK execs started thinking about their theme after they returned from Thanksgiving break.

Over the winter break, BCID worked with musician Richard Sunden, CSOM ’22, to create original music for their performance, Fox said.

As preparation for the competition began, Benjamin met with the dance team leaders on February 6 to go over the details of the show, including the new cultural component required for all teams.

In the past, dance teams chose to compete in either the culture category or the competition category. The new format allows groups to compete against all other teams for the top prizes.

Betsaida Marcel, Vice President of Presenting Africa to U (PATU) and MCAS ’22, said she was thrilled to have a chance for the team members to show off their skills in competition against all the other teams. In previous years, PATU only competed in the culture category against teams such as Masti, AeroK and Vida de Intensa Pasión (VIP).

“I know for a fact that if we took on all the dance teams on this campus, we would always dominate,” Marcel said.

Dance teams can incorporate their cultural component in different ways, including videos, costumes or choreography, Benjamin said. The cultural element can represent the traditions of a country or ethnicity, but can also include broader cultural themes.

According to Cynthia Ma, President of UPrising and MCAS ’22. BCDE, an all-female team, will focus on female empowerment for its routine, Salina said.

According to Brianna Coppinger, lead choreographer for VIP and MCAS ’23, her team brings cultural aspects into everything they do, including musical choice and dance styles. Similarly, Synergy Hip Hop Dance Company Director Amanda Garza, MCAS ’22, said the team’s mission statement is to provide unity for students from different cultural backgrounds, so the new cultural component was easy to fit into the routine of the team.

“We embrace the diversity of our entire team in all its forms,” ​​Garza said. “And then obviously, as a hip-hop team, you know, hip-hop was founded on the fusion of black and Latin dance styles, so we participate in that culture and we celebrate it.”

For the cultural component of the Golden Eagles, the team incorporates its experience in walking to parts of its onstage routine, according to section chief Sadie Jackson, MCAS ’23. The Golden Eagles will be participating in Showdown for the first time this year.

Although the Dance Organization of BC has participated in Showdown for the past few years, this year is the first time the team will compete against all other teams with the cultural component in their routine. Other bands previously in the competition category include BCID, BC On Tap and BCDE. Synergy won the category in 2018 while Fuego won the award in 2019.

“For them to bring us all together under one umbrella to celebrate all of this is going to be really awesome,” said Regan Hayes, Director of DOBC and CSOM ’22.

Saturday’s competition not only marks the return of an iconic BC event, but also a last chance for senior team members to pass on Showdown traditions to their team members who have never competed. at Showdown before.

Only the current seniors, who were freshmen for the last Showdown competition in 2019, stood before the roaring crowd at the Conte Forum.

Emilia Couture, co-president of BC On Tap and Lynch ’22, said she was having dinner with fellow dancer, Olivia Bird, co-president of On Tap and MCAS ’22, before Showdown practice when they received the email from BC administration announcing that students were to leave campus due to the spread of COVID-19.

“I would say the greatest source of excitement [is that] our class is the last class to occur in Showdown,” Bird said. “So I think everyone is ready to start again, especially after the last two years.”

Coppinger and fellow VIP member Eduard Smith, MCAS ’23, were first-year VIP members when Showdown was canceled in 2020. The three-year wait makes their first Showdown performance all the more exciting, Coppinger said.

Although VIP has seniors on its team, these members only joined in their second year, so Showdown will be a new experience for all team members this year. Coppinger said the air of mystery surrounding Showdown adds to the motivation and appreciation of VIP for those who have led the team in the past.

“Right now, I’m just very grateful to [the former captains] and also grateful for the opportunity we have this year to try to bring that tradition back to BC and keep it alive,” Coppinger said.

Featured images by Aditya Rao and Aneesa Wermers / Heights Staff


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