By ALEXIS SEARS
For The News-Letter
At 8 p.m. this past Saturday, 17 dance groups performed to a nearly full auditorium in Shriver as part of the orientation showcase. The groups featured were JHU Ballet, JHU Shakti, Temps d’Afrique, Baila!, Blue Jay Bhangra, Slainte: JHU Irish Dance, Jaywalk Dance Group, Listen Up Tap, Zinda (JHU Masti), VIVAZ Performing Arts Company, JHU Modern Dance Company, SLAM Hip Hop Dance Group, JHU JOSH, Hopkins BBoys, Yong Han Lion Dance Troupe and the Eclectics.
While the O-Show usually has a large turnout, dancers commented that the audience this year was especially large, suggesting that there are several new dancers in the class of 2019.
“We always try to sneak a peak of the audience before going on stage so we know what to expect. The Ladybirds usually prefer a larger audience and loved the cheering this year. The more people there are the more energy we gain from the audience to put into our dancing,” junior Sigal Landau, member of the Ladybirds Dance Team and Listen Up Tap, wrote in an email to The News-Letter.
The show began with JHU Ballet, who performed to Bruno Mars’s “Uptown Funk”, followed by a solo en pointe by senior Jordan Berger, the president of JHU Ballet, who performed the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.
While all of the dance teams practice vigorously throughout the year, practices intensified in weeks before the show. The Ladybirds, the University’s official dance team, began practicing for the show on Aug. 20.
The team usually dances between three and five hours a day, sometimes practicing twice a day. This year they danced about 60 hours total to prepare for the O-Show. While many groups performed previously learned routines for the show, the Ladybirds were one of the few groups on campus that choreographed new dances.
Landau, who has been participating in dance groups at Hopkins since 2013, performed Saturday in her second O-Show. She described the process of preparing for the show with the rest of the team.
“Since each dance group gets five minutes on stage, we try to choreograph a new dance that will fit in that time frame but also showcase the various styles of dance we perform throughout the year,” Landau wrote in an email to The News-Letter.
Though this side of the Ladybirds’ performance makes them unique from the other groups, it also presents certain challenges for the dancers and choreographers on the team.
“While this allows us to show many styles, it is sometimes difficult to merge all of the sections and create clean transitions,” she wrote. “Other than figuring out the transitions, I think the hardest part is pushing through the first week of practices when everyone is sore and tired.”
Enduring these long practices paid off for the Ladybirds, who seemed to impress the audience. Even when their music skipped, the crowd became even louder.
One audience member, Olivia Shumaker, remarked on the variety of dance groups present.
“I liked seeing all of the groups and the creativity they used to approach their styles of dance and present them to students who haven’t encountered it,” she said.
Another group that sparked the audience’s attention was the SLAM Hip Hop Dance Group. Sophomore Max Yeo, the publicity chair for the group, remarked on the preparation that was necessary to create this crowd-pleasing performance.
“O-Show is always one of the more exciting performances. For most freshmen, it’s their first time watching us perform, so we try to put our best foot forward,” he wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “This means practices the day classes start and extra time to clean our sets.”
Another important element of the Orientation show for the group is advertising to freshmen and others who may be interested in auditioning for or practicing with the group. As publicity chair, Yeo was active in this side of the event.
“Outside of dance practice, we also put additional effort into our marketing; revamping our tri-board, printing out flyers, and interacting with freshmen at the Student Involvement Fair,” he wrote.
Junior Saranga Arora, co-captain of Blue Jay Bhangra, the University’s only co-ed Bhangra group, echoed Yeo’s remarks on the excitement felt before and during the show.
“It is the biggest audience we perform to on campus so it is really exciting to get our name out there on campus and our team works really hard to show off our best work,” she wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “This O-Show was great because Shriver was completely packed!”
Arora also commented on what she hopes audience members will take away from watching the team’s performance this year.
“From O-Show, we hope that students in all different years will learn about our group and enjoy our performance as much as we enjoy performing for them!”