COURTESY OF DARIA RAMOS-IZQUIERDO Student hip-hop dance group SLAM invited several other groups to join them at their showcase.
On Sunday afternoon SLAM hosted their 10th Annual Hip-Hop Showcase and Benefit. The showcase featured the group itself as well as 12 guests, including Hopkins’ Eclectics. The lineup brought together a variety of dance troupes from across the region to perform on the temporary Goldfarb auditorium stage setup in the Ralph S. O’Connor Recreation Center.
While I went in thinking that I knew what to expect from the hip-hop dance show, I left utterly surprised by the sheer talent I witnessed. The dancers were not only skilled but clearly passionate, something that is so rare but so wonderful.
I often found myself wondering how it’s possible for these students to devote the necessary amount of time to developing such talent while still attending classes and remaining in good academic standing.
It wasn’t just the dancing that left me stunned. The various groups’ choices in music were unexpected as well. Major Definition, a Baltimore-based dance group that aims to educate others about hip-hop via dance, performed a hip-hop style routine to Leona Lewis’ 2007 hit ballad Bleeding Love.
The heartfelt piece would traditionally be considered a perfect song to set a lyrical or contemporary dance to, yet somehow the group of young adults created choreography that seamlessly fit with the song’s lyrics and tempo.
Major Definition was just the second group to perform. The group that preceded them was the KickRocks Crew. This all-female group was the definition of fierce. Their coordination and “in-syncness” applied to everything from their shoes to their moves. They were unstoppable.
They met their match in fierceness in Coverboy. Coverboy is composed of all queer men, and they did nothing but wow the audience. You don’t have to take my word for it. They were a stand-out in the eyes of freshman Tanner Amundsen as well.
“If I had to pick a favorite, it would have to be Coverboy. They were so fierce, so fantastic,” he said.
Afta Shock DC, a company of “mature” dancers, exemplified that age is just a number. Despite being old enough to be the parents of many of the kids in the Baltimore Dance Crews Project (BDCP) Shorties, they brought the same amount of energy and spunk.
Most of the members wore wedding rings on their fingers, but those were not the only things that shined.
These dancers never missed a step. They are paragons of having the courage to continue to do what you love regardless of your age you.
All of the proceeds from the showcase went towards BDCP’s mission of bringing dance to the children of Baltimore. This year SLAM raised a staggering $1,500, all of which will continue to help BDCP expand and reach more children.
Brian Gerardo, the executive director of BDCP, explained to the audience that the group’s goal is to make Baltimore the most accessible city for dance. According to him, 80 percent of children in Baltimore schools are not involved with extracurricular activities or after-school programs.
This means that 60,000 students are left with free-time from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. — these are the kids BDCP hopes to engage with.
The students that take part in the program show nothing but strength, especially The BDCP Seniors, who are at the highest level of the program. This crew showed an incredible amount of maturity in their performance calling for an end to gun violence.
This was by far the most memorable performance of the evening for me because of the pure resilience and bravery exemplified by the group.
This astonishing group of young people used their experiences to convey a simultaneously political and personal message through dance, truly succeeding at inspiring and captivating the audience.
Freshman Ming Wu was similarly impressed with The BDCP Seniors’ performance.
“It was so powerful. It made everything they go through real, and it showed [that] what SLAM is helping to give to these kids actually is very important,” she said.
The thought that SLAM’s philanthropy contributes to helping alleviate the stresses that these children and teens endure made SLAM’s final set even more enjoyable.
Their staging of a restaurant was upbeat and lively, and their use of props and costumes helped set the stage in a fresh and exciting way. These Hopkins students brought all they had to the stage to close out the show strong, leaving the crowd wanting more.