Hip-hop isn’t just about the moves; it’s about the attitude and passion. You’ve got to bring it to the audience, so it too will sway along to the beat as you pop, lock and break every joint and limb.
And did USC’s Hip-Hop Showcase bring it.
Break Through, USC’s premier hip-hop dance organization, presented its fifth biannual dance production on Friday in Bovard Auditorium with four guest performers: Vanguards Crew, Chaotic 3, iGroove and USC Fly Girls. Together with rapper and poet Marc Payne as the emcee, the performance attracted many students to the packed auditorium.
The show began with an introduction video showing the Break Through team during its rehearsals, revealing to the audience how much hard work the members put into this performance.
The showcase was then divided into 20 segments, 16 of them performed by Break Through.
Guest choreographers Jackie Shentu and David Yi, professional dancers who teach classes for Team Millennia Performing Arts, contributed to three dances. But for the rest of the acts, it was fair game for any member to contribute in whatever way they could.
Simply defined, hip-hop dancing is the grittier version of cheerleading. While cheerleaders draw on the audience’s delight and camaraderie to cheer for a sports team, hip-hop dancers rile the audience’s rebellious spirit.
Because this was a showcase of hip-hop, there was no specific theme or style. Some of the dances were fast-paced with a lot of funk-inspired movements, particularly popping — a technique in which the dancer contracts and relaxes muscles in a jerky movement that causes a controlled spasm throughout the body. Sometimes these pops were sudden and static; other times, they were smooth and fluid.
The first dance was classic hip-hop, with the dancers divided into two teams jeering at each other. Occasionally there were gymnastics stunts like back flips, handsprings and round-offs, but mostly there was hair flipping and hoodies as the music blared.
But hip-hop has a softer side, too. Some of the songs played were ballads, in which the dancers swayed gracefully to the music, with a hint of sexual suggestion.
In the dance “I Saw That Going Differently,” the female dancers wore short black dresses and spiky high heels, while the male dancers were bare-chested except for a loose vest, which they later stripped off. In another sensuous dance, “Set The Mood,” six dancers dressed smartly with fashionable hats and clicked their fingers to jazzy moves to the tune of Justin Timberlake’s “Set The Mood Right.”
Another unique dance, a lyrical hip-hop, used creative, graceful and ballet-inspired moves as the dancers untwined, careened and floated with smooth, fluid movements.
The showcase was highly entertaining, which was obvious by the wild screams, whistles and cheering from the audience.
“[The show] was absolutely fantastic,” said Geoffrey Lin, a freshman majoring in accounting and contributing choreographer for the show. “Being on stage with everyone, I felt the energy coming off from each and every one of us. We definitely did better than we did on any of the rehearsals.”
The USC Hip-Hop Showcase proved that the art form isn’t just fixed on a specific style or attitude, but is composed of an eclectic and dynamic mix of flowing trends and styles.
Friday night’s performance displayed a great showcase of it all, with an infectious attitude that no doubt left the audience grooving a little on its way out.