Last night’s competition featured three judges: Valerie Postos, A.J. Ashman, and Josh Thurman. The trio gave feedback to each team after their performance, which might have gone faster had their voices been audible.
The first group to dance was Dance 2XS. They are a co-ed hip hop team that had excellent timing throughout their routine. I also thought it was interesting that they formed pairs regardless of gender, unlike the other teams. Their facial expressions also conveyed their enthusiasm. There was a very well-timed fall at the end, which excited everyone. One piece of feedback the judges gave was that their routine had a “great story,” but I personally didn’t know there was a narrative at all.
The second team was the RhythM Tap Ensemble, a student run tap dance group. They choreograph their own routines, which is no small feat. They have a show on January 15 at the Power Center, as well! The beginning of their performance was dramatic, with a small portion of the team standing silhouetted. The one note from the judges I agreed with was that the upper body is just as important to focus on as the lower body, even though their genre was tap dance.
Thirdly, and to the extreme excitement of the audience, was Izzat, an all male fusion (hip hop, Bollywood, bhangra) team. The hype was so intense it was difficult to hear the music at first. Izzat had a lot of stunts, like flips in their routine.
Their feet would barely even touch the stage, and their enthusiasm was tangible. The team highlighted their skill during tempo changes, which they mirrored with their body language. They spent time dancing on the floor as well, which looked very fluid and synchronized. There was even an old team member in the audience, who knew all the moves and was very vocal about loving his team.
After Izzat was Impact, a small company of female non-dance majors. The first part of their routine was contemporary and showed off the dancers’ flexibility. Their music was a lot slower and emphasized flow. I thought it was cool how they used their entire body when dancing, even their hands and heads.
The second part of their routine definitely had a more confident vibe to it. It seemed more fun and less modest. The judges enjoyed that the team combined different styles of music, which I agree made their performance more memorable.
The fifth team was Flowdom, est. 2015. They are a multicultural hip hop and freestyle group. They wore more grungy, black costumes, which my friend said reminded her of Rocky Horror. They didn’t necessary have a uniform, but their styles all matched. The team was initially rigid like marionettes, dancing to a haunting Nutcracker chime remix. They later broke character for fluidity, which confused me because they lacked a consistent theme. It did, however, make their performance more interesting. The judges called their routine clever, a favorite being a segment in which the protagonist used a team member’s leg as a handle for her jack-in-the-box.
The sixth performance was from Michigan’s premiere all-female Southeast Asian fusion dance team: Michigan TAAL. Their team wanted to emphasize the importance of both strength and femininity. Their black costume’s matched Izzat’s. They used their hands a lot, which was a nice change. The team was very confident in their routine, and their ending was a synchronized point to the sky. The judges approved of their smooth transitions.
The final team was EnCore, another audience favorite. They initially came onstage wearing baseball caps and jeans but promptly threw their hats off their heads. There was a team member who did the splits… while wearing jeans. They were clearly a well-established team and are very comfortable with one another, which made their energy incredible. They even did a mannequin challenge in the middle of their routine, which caused the audience to erupt. The judges enjoyed their pose uniformity.
The winning team was Michigan Izzat, with EnCore coming in second and Flowdom in third.