This article has been updated to include quotations from Synergy and Presenting Africa to You.
As the start of the show approached, the crowd extended into the second row of Conte Forum, packing the space with people and anticipation. The AHANA+ Leadership Council (ALC) Showdown 2018 was ramping up to be a night to remember. Fourteen of Boston College’s dance teams would be performing in front of a crowd of thousands.
The event was divided into various categories, into which certain dance teams were placed based on their organization mission or style of dance. The largest category, Competition, was comprised of eight dance groups. These teams were Females Incorporating Sisterhood Through Step (F.I.S.T.S.), Fuego del Corazón, Synergy, UPrising, BC Irish Dance, Sexual Chocolate, Dance Organization of BC (DOBC), and BC Dance Ensemble (BCDE). The second category is Culture. This category was comprised of three culture-based teams: Masti, Vida de Intensa Pasión (VIP), and Presenting Africa to You (PATU). The Culture and Competition categories each had a monetary award for first place, along with Competition’s additional monetary prize for second place. Each team in these categories chose a charity to which they would donate the money. Three additional teams performed at Showdown, but were not eligible for any prize money. They were placed in the Showcase category: Phaymus, On Tap, and AEROdynamiK (AeroK).
ALC Showdown 2018 also featured a guest performance halfway through the show by Lil Phunk. This youth dance team is the official junior dance team of the Boston Celtics.
The end of the night featured the awards ceremony: The Competition category first prize went to Synergy, while second place was awarded to Sexual Chocolate. The Culture category first prize went to PATU. ALC also gave an award called the People’s Choice Award to a team they believed “embodies the spirit of ALC.” This award was presented to DOBC.
Representing ALC as the co-hosts of Showdown were Taraun Frontis, CSOM ’19, and Michael Osaghae, MCAS ’20. As they introduced the show, they reminded the audience that the event used to be hosted by the Black Student Forum (BSF) and was staged in The Rat. Since its inception, it has grown in popularity and size to its current placement in Conte Forum under ALC.
Vida de Intensa Pasión
Vida de Intensa Pasión (V.I.P.) opened up the night by bringing awareness to the destruction in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Clearly, the team’s members were greatly affected by the natural disaster—they pledged to donate to hurricane relief efforts if they won Showdown. The energetic group took the stage in front of a colorful background and a sign that read “Welcome to San Juan.” The women donned floral dresses while the men wore t-shirts and shorts. The crowd erupted in cheers when they danced to Marc Anthony’s “Aguanile.” Halfway through the set, the background screens displayed newscasters reporting on the destruction in Puerto Rico. Ultimately, V.I.P. transported the audience into a colorful and vibrant world, all while raising awareness for hurricane relief efforts.
Females Incorporating Sisterhood Through Step
Females Incorporating Sisterhood Through Step (F.I.S.T.S.) employed an Amazonian woman theme to spread their message about female empowerment. The all female step team stomped across the stage with perfect precision and passion throughout the grueling number. The group integrated a crowd-pleasing “God’s Plan” number when Hercules ordered the strong women to drop their feminist agenda. The team wowed the crowd with flips and viral dance moves during the performance. Warrior-like precision during the group’s synchronized stepping and loud slaps made for an impeccable performance by F.I.S.T.S.
At first, there were a few technological complications with Masti’s performance—the wrong song was played twice before the correct one came on. The colorful performance followed a student’s journey going home for Holi, the Indian and Nepali festival of color. At first, the team wore sweatshirts and black pants. Once they “arrived” in India, the dancers removed them to reveal sparkly pink crop tops on the women and vests on the men. When the group employed sapps, it was visually interesting but difficult to hear. The loud nature of the sapps is one of the most intriguing parts of traditional Punjab dance, but it was drowned out by the music and cheering. Otherwise, Masti’s performance was energetic and vibrant, bringing the concept of the Holi festival alive.
Phaymus brought the heat for its firefighter inspired performance. The crowd broke out in laughter when the group opened its performance with a caller informing the 911 operator, “The Mods are on fire—this party is too lit.” The group kept up the deafening cheers with popular Migos songs like “Stir Fry” and “Slippery,” as well as sexually suggestive floorwork. The all-female hip-hop group formed a line on stage and excited the crowd with energetic twerking. Toward the end of the performance, Phaymus “sprayed” the crowd and put out the fire with blue streamers.
Dance Organization of Boston College
Dance Organization of Boston College (DOBC) shined throughout its robotic-themed performance to win the People’s Choice Award. The all-female team started with a round-off-to-tuck combination that spanned the stage to awaken both the mechanic members and the crowd. The girl group impressed with synchronized turns and handstands in the first half of the performance, which also featured sultry steps to Beyoncé’s “Video Phone.” While most of the moves had a robotic stiffness to them, the group returned to its usually fluid style of dance for “Runaway” by Galantis. The team heightened the energy of the room with crowd-pleasing lifts, including one in which the team formed a human wall on which a member executed a clean back walkover. Following the stunt, the group members struggled to get in sync for the landing of their jumps, making for a sloppy transition. Despite timing issues throughout, the team finished strong with a high energy full team number that earned loud applause from the crowd.
On Tap, BC’s only tap-focused dance group, was the second dance group featured in the Showcase category. This was the third year that the team competed in Showdown since its inception in 2016. This year, the team chose The Wizard of Oz as its Showdown theme: The plot of the dance followed the adventures of a tap-dancing Dorothy—replete with a stuffed Toto in a basket on her arm—through the land of Oz. Throughout the performance, the group made use of various music, including cuts from the classic movie. The music was certainly an important part of On Tap’s performance, but the group truly thrives when it dances to no music at all. This allows the hard taps of the group—like rolling thunder through Conte Forum—to be heard by the crowd, instead of being drowned out by the loud music. On Tap has a relatively unique ability to create its own music and beats with the sound of their shoes. Regardless, it was a strong performance met with the thunderous applause of the audience—the strongest crowd reaction came after Dorothy threw water on the Wicked Witch, thwarting her evil designs.
Fuego del Corazón
True to its New York City theme, Fuego del Corazón delivered a fast-paced, high energy performance at Showdown. A Statue of Liberty, naked cowboy, and other Times Square characters took center stage for the opening, which featured a Latino narrating his first few moments in the big city. The Latin dance team excelled in its signature partner work, and the female members of the team glowed under the bright lights during a Wall Street-themed number set to Beyoncé’s “Ring the Alarm.” The dance team nearly dropped a female flyer during a standard basket toss, but won the crowd’s approval with an ambitious stunt that involved the male members forming a circle and rotating on the stage while the ladies of Fuego were perched on their locked arms.
AEROdynamiK (AeroK) was the final team performing in the Showcase category. AeroK is a contemporary hip-hop dance group that also employed The Wizard of Oz as its theme for Showdown. The team presented an altered take on the classic story, however, as it translated the story into an Asian variation. Many dancers wore Asian conical hats made of straw—a take on the Scarecrow. The Tin Man was a samurai dressed in shiny and reflective armor. AeroK’s dance shined among other themed dances due to its contemporary style and technical skill. AeroK excels at extremely current and well-choreographed dance formations, and it did not disappoint at Showdown.
Synergy won first place at Showdown by using a creative theme and masterfully coordinated dancing. The team pledged to donate to Hip Hop 4 Hope. The co-directors of Synergy, Luis Cardenas and Jinee Lee, MCAS ’18 and MCAS ’19, spoke about the experience of winning the Competition category at Showdown.
“Winning 1st place was an incredibly humbling experience and we are overwhelmed by the support of our friends, family, and alumni, and the overall general audience,” Cardenas and Lee said in an email. “We could not have gotten this far without our Synfam walking into every practice with an open mind about being critical of our artistry and making constant improvements to our set in order to showcase the best version possible. All we wanted was for people to enjoy the journey of our set and we hope we were able to accomplish that. We are also excited to be donating our winnings to Hip Hop for Hope, which is a cause that holds a special place in the greater Boston dance community.”
The group’s theme, Synchella, was bright and unique. Synergy is a diverse group of dancers, and each dancer wore a different outfit that you could expect to find at Coachella. At one point, some of the dancers comedically donned security vests and kicked the others out, resulting in laughs and cheers from the audience. Eventually, they threw their security vests off and into the crowd as the other dancers returned to the stage. Synergy had excellent coordination, especially when it danced in a triangle formation. Toward the end of the performance, the team danced to Bob Marley’s “One Love,” which was sweet and fun. At the end of the song, the featured couples kissed, evoking applause from the crowd.
Cardenas and Lee explained the way in which the team came up with its theme for this year’s Showdown.
“Every year, our E-Board has a meeting before the start of the season where we list out all of the ideas we could possible come up with for a Showdown set. We always narrow it down to a top few and, naturally, we end up developing the one we feel very strongly about,” Cardenas and Lee said in an email. “This year in particular, we wanted to do something that embodied our passion for dance and pushed our artistic direction and Synchella did that for us. Luckily, it also fell on the same weekend as Coachella!”
Boston College Irish Dance
Boston College Irish Dance commanded the stage in an intense and engrossing manner, both with its creative theme and its mastery of dance. The dancers wore all black with capes for the Batman theme. One dancer wore a mask as she played Batman, and another dancer, who played the Joker, wore a purple suit. Other dancers, playing citizens of Gotham, wore sparkly ties. The music played ranged from “Smooth Criminal” by Michael Jackson to “Ready For It” by Taylor Swift. The group exhibited excellent coordination, exemplified throughout the performance when the music occasionally stopped so that the audience could hear the dancers’ stomps.
Presenting Africa To You
Presenting Africa to You (PATU) presented a performance that ultimately garnered the team first place in the Culture category.
Eseosa Osagie, PATU’s captain and MCAS ’18, discussed what it felt like to win the first place prize in the Culture category.
“Winning first place was so amazing,” Osagie said in an email. “Since there was only first place this year I felt really nervous about placing but it all worked out. Hearing our name made all the late night practices worth it!”
BC’s African dance troupe chose The Lion King as its theme this year. The dancers were garbed in African-style skirts and dresses as they recreated the classic tale. PATU incorporated astounding contemporary and traditional African dance into its choreography, especially as the dancers surrounded the various scenes of the story—Scar’s murder of Mufasa, the fight between Simba and Scar, and the “Circle of Life.”
Osagie explained the way that PATU chose its theme this year.
“We wanted a theme that would be familiar to the Boston college [sic] community but also had a connection to the African continent,” Osagie said in an email. “We couldn’t do Black Panther since it was gonna [sic] be too late before we knew the plot. Instead we chose The Lion King because it’s very popular and everyone knows the basic storyline so we would only need to do a few scenes in order to convey the story succinctly.”
PATU’s performance was clearly a crowd favorite, earning cheers, applause, and screams of encouragement and adoration by thousands of people in the audience. The team certainly earned this praise—and the award—with its refreshing and well-done Showdown performance. PATU will be donating its prize money to the charity CameroonOne, whose mission is to place orphaned children in Cameroon into the households of surviving relatives.
Boston College Dance Ensemble
The Boston College Dance Ensemble (BCDE) pledged to donate to the Campus School if it won Showdown. BCDE’s performance was Alice in Wonderland-themed and incorporated colorful costumes and whimsical dancing. All the favorite characters were included—from the Cheshire Cat to the Mad Hatter. The dancers mastered the art of acrobatics, which were featured throughout the performance. The set featured audio excerpts from the Alice in Wonderland movie, as well as unexpected songs such as “Don’t Wake Me Up” by Chris Brown and “Wonderland” by Taylor Swift. Although the performance was extremely busy, BCDE was able to pull it off through perfect coordination and an all-around lovable theme.
Sexual Chocolate won over the crowd and judges with its signature sensual steps to take second place in the competition category. The members of the all-male group described their theme as family and brotherhood, but they opted to let their moves speak for themselves, doing very little to convey the theme during the dance. Dressed in black t-shirts and wearing Timberlands, Sexual Chocolate flowed across the stage to sultry tracks with sexually suggestive lyrics like Lil Dicky’s “Freaky Friday.” While the group was impeccably clean and in sync from beginning to end, one flip went awry during the middle of the performance—a member of the all-male step team ran from the back of the stage and used another member’s back as a springboard for a front flip that landed him on his butt rather than his feet. The group recovered well, however, and finished strong with perfectly timed dolphin dives to Chris Brown’s “To My Bed,” earning thunderous cheers from the massive Conte crowd.
UPrising’s dance was the final performance of the evening, closing out the nearly three hour event. Founded in 2011, UPrising is a dance team with a background in urban hip-hop. For its theme in Showdown, UPrising presented its take on the 1985 John Hughes classic The Breakfast Club. The team was divided into groups, each dressed as one of the characters of the movie, representing different social groups from high school. Throughout its performance, UPrising’s music greatly assisted the team. Bruno Mars’s “Finesse” gave the group’s members a great opportunity to showcase their skill with an interplay of fast and slow dance moves. The team’s performance culminated with an affirmation of unity, like the final note from The Breakfast Club, that each group has become closer through their shared experience at the hands of the principal. UPrising’s final send-off served to finish off the event in a fitting and uniting way.
In summary, ALC Showdown 2018 was an incredible event, packed tight with enormous talent by the dance groups involved. There is a reason that Showdown is always one of the biggest BC events every year, and that reason was very apparent on Saturday night. The crowd filed out of Conte Forum into the brisk air cognizant of the fact that they had witnessed something incredible.
Featured Image by Kaitlin Meeks / Heights Editor
Correction: This article previously stated that Synergy used Bob Marley’s song “Summer Love.” The title of the song is actually “One Love.”