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December 3, 2021

O(ctober) Show: Dance Showcase celebrates in-person dance

By JULIA ALUMBRO | October 7, 2021

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COURTESY OF JULIA ALUMBRO

Zinda dancers perform onstage at the O(ctober) Show: Dance Showcase.

In-person dance shows are back at Hopkins! On Friday, Oct. 1 Homewood Arts Programs hosted a dance showcase in Shriver Hall. Over 10 student dance groups were welcomed back to the stage by an audience filled with friends, family and faculty; more than 400 people registered for the event on Hopkins Groups. This show marked the first cumulative dance display of the school year, reaching maximum-capacity seating in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines.

Some attendees even arrived early to claim spots front and center. Supportive friends whipped out their phones and cameras ready to capture dance routines and the familiar faces of their peers. The atmosphere was unparalleled to that of any virtual platform.

The showcase was purposefully organized in a way in which the style and rhythm of one group was creatively different from the next. JOSH Bollywood Fusion Dance Team opened the show with an upbeat routine to a remix of Beyoncé “Partition.” Following that, Lan Yun Blue Orchids Chinese Dance Team slowed the tempo down and exhibited a graceful display of Chinese traditional dance. It was interesting to see the duality of dance styles one after another. There was break dancing from Breakers Crew, contemporary dance from Jaywalk and the Ladybirds Dance Team, modern ballet and even styles of the 21st century from Eclectics Dance Group and Korean Pop Motion, among many others. 

Despite the mask mandate being in effect, dancers were still able to contribute to the performance using their facial expressions. For Shakti, this was especially recognizable as each member maintained a uniform expression for their classical Indian dance routine. Additionally, the expressions of a dancer contributed to the overall energy of the group. Members of Zinda, for example, were clearly invigorated as shown by their furrowed brows and precise movements.

Each group had arranged a unique stage setting that complimented its dance. Aside from the music, there were technical controls such as lighting or backdrop color that contributed to the climax of the performances. Jaywalk, for example, started out with a slow pop ballad, but as the song started to build, the stage lights got progressively brighter, leading to the intense, emotional ending of the dance.

Other groups like the Yong Han Lion Dance Troupe and Blue Jay Bhangra introduced cultural instruments, which played significant roles in storytelling and tempo. In the Blue Jay Bhangra performance, a member entered the stage with a dhol, a double-headed drum. Its instrumental presence emphasized the beats of the music, which guided the dancers to the handclasp motions they were doing for the routine.

Similarly, the Lion Dance Troupe used a Chinese drum called the tanggu to lead the dancers in a lively story. Two dancers helped mobilize the costume and mimic the movements of a lion. When the drum was played more lightly, the audience could assume that the lion was out of harm’s way. But as the antagonist of the plot appeared on stage, the tanggu was played loudly to indicate danger.

Many returning members were excited to perform in a normal setting again, and naturally, the crowd didn’t disappoint at each beat drop or change in formation. Even after a group finished, you could feel the audience’s anticipation as the next dancers carefully prepared their set.

In an interview with The News-Letter, junior Isha Ghimire, who is a member of JOSH, reflected on the show. 

“It was exhilarating. The audience had a lot of energy, and it made performing really fun,” she said.

As an audience member, I enjoyed reacting to the steps of each routine. It was fun to contribute to the collective “oohs” and “aahs” of the auditorium, but memorably, it was fun to see and support my good friend on her first performance with Blue Jay Bhangra.

While the showcase allowed upperclassmen to return back to the spotlight, it also presented an opportunity for first-year students to join a tight-knit group of dancers within the larger Hopkins community. 

Freshman Aarush Prasad described the Blue Jay Bhangra team culture in an interview with The News-Letter

“Even though we’ve been training for only a week, it already feels like we’re a close family,” he said.

The O(ctober) Show: Dance Showcase brought hope to Hopkins dancers and teams. The signs of normalcy were there from the recruitment process to stage setting to live instrumental performances. It was a celebration of many cultures and styles of dance. 

Furthermore, the showcase allowed the student body to get a glimpse of what dance is like at Hopkins. Personally, I can’t wait to see what’s next from the dance teams!

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