Just around 7 p.m. on Saturday night, Conte Forum was pulsing with pop music and 3,500 people-the audience for Boston College’s largest, sold-out dance competition: the Annual Showdown.
The competition, which featured 12 BC dance groups, was sponsored by the BC Student Programs Office, UGBC, and Heritage Programming. Each group had selected a charity, and the two winning groups, from the dance and cultural categories, were awarded $500 to donate to their charities of choice. The two-and-a-half-hour Showdown contained impeccable talent, dedication, a dazzling set, and lively hosts, but the key element of the show was that everyone supported one another. Each dance team was met with overwhelming applause from all other teams as well as from the audience, redgardless its ranking, and members from different teams could be seen hugging one another as they stepped off the stage. It was easy to see that, while each team hoped its practice would pay off in a win, no one had lost sight of the overarching goal: to help others.
Although it was not technically part of the competition, proper homage must be paid to Lil’ Phunk, the 4-foot-and-under dancers that warmed the stage up for the rest of the teams. The stampede of mini dance prodigies performed tirelessly for a crowd of gaping young adults (who found themselves suddenly contemplating their own lack of comparable skills). Despite their Mickey Mouse ears and Pixar hats, members of Lil’ Phunk proved themselves to be breakdancing grenades far beyond their years. That being said, perhaps their robot moves were almost too convincing … Lil’ Phunk, we are not worthy.
The first category the dancers were judged on was cultural. Under this category, groups associated with a culture club-PATU, VSA, VIP, and Masti-thrived. PATU (an acronym for Presenting Africa to U) offered a welcome change of pace, countering the previous mechanical hip-hop beats with a more tribal route-the dancers awed the audience with their strong identity as a collective group as well as their individuality, and for theses reasons, among others, they took home a second place trophy in the culture category.
Newly formed Latin dance crew Vida de Intensa Pasion (VIP) gave the audience a lesson in passion, and the Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) slowed things down with a delicate and beautiful display of Vietnamese culture. The true ruler of the cultural category, however, was Masti-the South Asian dance troupe took home first place in the category for the second year in a row, after taking the stage with its electric-blue energy (and costumes), visibly elated as it executed Bollywood-style dance moves alongside meticulous acrobatics (such as a human staircase and a backflip over a couple of sticks).
The second category of Showdown was dance, and the top honor in this field was a crown well fought for. Sexual Chocolate stepped away from the Willy Wonka theme of its Big Show this semester, reaching instead for a Frankenstein-meets-Alien-Takeover theme, including full-body suits (which resembled both the Terminator and dementors without their cloaks). The members continued to surprise their spectators by bringing out the big guns-which in this case were two very little dancers, who fought the invasion with their adorable moves. As usual, Sexual Chocolate got everyone clapping, but didn’t quite top the legacy it built with its Big Show.
Following Sexual Chocolate was the Dance Ensemble-the all-female dance troupe staged a battle between top female artists (such as Beyonce and Nicki Minaj) with moves so sensual that the little members of guest group Lil’ Phunk were pulling Mickey Mouse ears over their eyes at this point of the show.
Synergy responded with choreography that earned the group second place in the dance category-settling on a Disney theme, Synergy used its iconic costumes to trigger seamless transitions (i.e. Sneezy sneezing to change the music) and contrasted Disney innocence with hip-hop dance motifs in an innovative routine, setting princesses and parades to hip-hop beats. To complete the spell, Synergy even crafted a glow-in-the-dark roller coaster, which spun and wound about the stage, much to the delight of the audience. F.I.S.T.S. followed suit with the Disney idea, toying with Alice and Wonderland with a red queen vs. white queen face-off, displaying their step skills under a pretense of the unordinary.
BC Irish Dance (BCID) members charged the stage with their calves of steel (it was hard not to notice), their legs prancing in almost complete disconnect from their well-postured torsos. The girls (and one guy) complemented the music they chose with the calculated, percussive rhythm of their feet. BCID closed its act with an impressive display of amoebic circles merging and splitting, never once breaking stride.
In contrast to Synergy’s fairytale throw-down, UPrising brought the real world back to Conte. In place of castles and glitter, UPrising used the theme of corporate America-the routine was complete with allusions to office romance and the hazing of interns. UPrising poked fun both at college life and the illusory work world college students dread, linking the two with coffee and rapid dance moves, surprisingly fierce in business casual. Phaymus also touched on the idea of the workplace, presenting a combination of Barber Shop and Step Up, bringing to life a hair salon where the dance moves were even sharper than the shears.
The first place dance trophy was rightfully awarded to the grace and valor that is Fuego del Corazon, whose West Side Story-themed Latin dance battle completely cancelled out Conte Forum’s air conditioning. Fuego managed to tie together romance, ferocity, culture, and contagious energy in its epic rendition of the classic love story. Clapping along became a task rendered impossible, for undivided attention was required so as not to miss a single soaring girl, or a rapid twist of one of many Fuego hips. By the time Fuego struck its ending pose (a girl held high by her teammates in a split position, reaching out to a suitor extending a rose from atop a human staircase), virtually all of Conte was on its feet. If BC is indeed out to set the world aflame, Fuego certainly was off to a good start with Conte Forum.
*Correction: An earlier version of this article listed BCID, rather than VSA, as being one of the four acts in the cultural category.