The Students of Caribbean Ancestry (SOCA) and SLAM held a spring showcase in Shriver Hall on April 7. In addition to performances from both groups, the event also featured other Hopkins dance groups including Temps d’Afrique (TDA), Korean Pop Motion (KPM) and JOSH.
The first set was performed by SLAM, a dance group that primarily focuses on hip-hop. Their performance was themed around Alice in Wonderland as dancers wore costumes of several famous characters, including Alice, the Mad Hatter, the Red Queen and the White Queen.
The set was divided into different sections, each featuring a character from Alice in Wonderland and a coordinated group of dancers. The energy of the music and choreography in each section perfectly matched the featured character, and this theming gave an extra layer of storytelling to the set that I loved.
The dancing itself was flawless, with every individual dancer moving so fluidly and with such synchrony that I was mesmerized from beginning to end. Groups of dancers would frequently be moving across the stage, coming in and out, creating a lot of visual interest and dynamism.
The next set was performed by TDA, the only African dance team at Hopkins. They are always a joy to watch, and this performance was no different. This was a shorter set, and the incredible synchrony, smoothness and intricate choreography left me wanting more.
After TDA’s performance, there was an unforeseen intermission. KPM, the K-pop cover dance group at Hopkins, was meant to perform next, but there seemed to be some delays in getting them on stage. During the delay, the host was left with the difficult position of keeping the audience entertained, but she did a great job of chatting with the audience and asking about their favorite K-pop groups to fill time.
Eventually, it was decided to skip KPM’s performance for the time being and move forward to the next set by JOSH, the female and non-binary Bollywood fusion dance team at Hopkins. Their set was themed around Ocean’s 8, a movie where a group of women pulls off a jewelry heist at the Met Gala. The dancers were all wearing sparkling outfits reminiscent of stolen jewels, and the whole performance had a really fun, rebellious and carefree energy.
The next performance was given by another headliner of the showcase, SOCA, a group that was newly started this year and focuses on Caribbean dance styles and music. When the lights came on and the music started, I was surprised and delighted to see that the dancers were not only on the stage but also dancing in the aisles of the auditorium.
The music and clothing for their first set were more traditional. The dancers wore long flowing red skirts that moved and flourished throughout the performance with dramatic effect. Many of the dancers had big smiles on their faces, and it was overall a festive and joyful first set. You’d never have guessed that this was the group’s first-ever showcase performance.
After an intermission, KPM came on stage for their performance. This was the smallest dance group of the night, with only a group of four girls dancing with an extra level of precision and complexity of choreography. This performance featured lots of tight, geometric arm movements and every member had a moment in the spotlight. I felt it was well worth the delay and the screaming audience seemed to agree.
Following KPM’s performance, members of SOCA gave a heartwarming sendoff to two of their graduating seniors before their second set and final performance of the night. This final set was a more modern take on Caribbean dance, and it felt like a party the whole way through. They danced upright and they danced on the ground, shaking every part of their bodies with ecstatic joy and confidence. It was a fantastic way to end the night.
Throughout the whole showcase, it was clear how hard the dancers had all worked to choreograph, rehearse and perform these sets. The hype was crazy, with the audience clapping and shouting for every group with all the enthusiasm they deserved. The night was full of joy, freedom and, above all, an endless passion for dance. New or established, every group dancing that night put on an outstanding show.