The 14th Annual SLAM Benefit and Showcase: DJ Got US Slammin’ hosted by the Hopkins SLAM Hip Hop Dance Group filled Shriver Hall with energy and zeal on Nov. 12. With the stage extravagantly decorated by iconic SLAM colored balloons, the showcase this year not only celebrated the diverse dance groups around the DMV area but SLAM’s 20th anniversary as well.
Friends, family and even alumni in the audience showed up with signs and cameras, ready to capture the spectacular moments on stage.
The showcase commenced with a dance cypher, a tradition of the event. All performers gathered on stage to create an open circle facing the audience, as individual dancers took turns freestyling in the center. Members of various groups jumped in, demonstrating their prowess and stage control. The mood was brought to a climax as dancers from separate groups joined together in a shockingly seamless improv duet.
As the cypher broke up, the stage lights dimmed and performances officially began. SLAM came first as an opener, stirring up the audience with mesmerizing choreography followed by strong maneuvers.
JALENOGRAPHY, LLC, a production-entertainment company focused on providing opportunities for minority artists, followed suit with an entrancing performance. Dancers raced through the aisles as the high-beat melody picked up. Their proud, confident and alluring routines instantly captivated the audience’s gaze.
A completely new style took over as Breakers Crew, the only breakdance club at Hopkins, entered the stage. Displaying street dance styles not limited to breaking, such as locking and house, the dancers flaunted their prowess.
Urbanknowlogy 101, the hip-hop dance team from George Mason University, continued the show. Slow but purposeful, their dance reminded me of a flowing river stream — melodic yet unpredictable.
Next with a roar of applause and cheers, Korean Pop Motion, the first and only K-Pop cover dance group at Hopkins, dominated the scene. In white tops and light blue jeans, the performers assumed a fresh, pure look that enchanted the audience. All the while, their bodies moved in the constant rhythmic coordination K-Pop is known for.
Dynamic Dance Team, the University of Maryland’s biggest hip-hop team, entered the stage next. Centered around competing schools and their sports game concept, the storytelling routines were clear and coherent. Each dancer played their role flawlessly in the story that unfolded on stage.
An intermission break followed, during which SLAM members gave touching addresses of gratitude to their graduating seniors. Members teared up on stage as they recalled incredible experiences they have shared as a big family. The voices of SLAM alumni in the audience could be heard cheering them on.
Kristen Corlay, co-president of Eclectics Dance Group, explained in an interview with The News-Letter the special meaning of this, not only for SLAM, but other dance groups as well.
“Many of our alumni came back to watch the performance, and I think it was a very emotional moment for everyone because they went through so much with dance being interrupted during the pandemic,“ she said. “For us it was like showing them that even through all the challenges they faced the legacy of the team has carried on.”
After the touching moment, Eclectics took back the stage with a powerful thematic routine exploring dream versus wake. Compared to a grimy real life, the soft dream world spoke to many in the audience. Proud to be the largest and all-inclusive dance group on campus, the student-choreographed routines were impeccably coordinated by a large number of performers.
After the showcase, Corlay reflected on their performance.
“I’m grateful to have such a supportive team and I’m proud of everyone’s growth! I’m overjoyed with seeing how happy everyone felt, that’s what dance is all about,“ she said. “We had some newbies that had never danced onstage before, and it was magical seeing them experience that for the first time.”
Next, the SLAM seniors rushed up on stage again, this time wearing colorful animal onesies, renewing the applause with whoops and hollers. Dancing cutely to popular songs, the SLAM Senior Set created a celebratory party scene on stage as everyone clapped and laughed along.
Hopkins Dance Collective, the School of Medicine’s student dance group, performed next. Mixing cultural dances with modern styles, their innovative choreography earned enthusiastic responses from the audience.
Uniform in gritty black jumpsuits, the stage gave way to Culture Shock® DC dancers next. Beginning with a powerful opening tableau, the performers picked up the pace with powerful movements matched with culturally infused beats.
The elevated energy of the performances did not slow even as the showcase drew to an end.
Phunktions Dance Company burst forth next, presenting a humorous college concept. The pace fluctuated between high-strung and soft as a complete drama show is portrayed through dance.
N2 Dance followed suit, demonstrating mastery of multiple styles. Sudden tempo swings kept the audience bouncing on the balls of their feet in anticipation.
The finale was brought on by another of SLAM’s thrilling performances. Displaying a multitude of one-act routines, SLAM roused the audience to the pinnacle one last time. The showcase wrapped up magnificently as the dancers stepped up to the stage front and posed in confidence. Deafening applause raged through the crowd as the showcase concluded.
Michelle Limpe, a member of Eclectics, is an Editor-in-Chief for The News-Letter. She did not contribute reporting, writing or editing to this article.