REVIEW: Dance Mix 2017 The Galaxy Edition

What a night. I started walking over to the Power Center with my friend five minutes before the concert started to find a building packed with students. Before the first group took the stage, the organizers announced that this was the second sold-out concert in a row.

 

Some sold-out concerts don’t feel sold out. You can spot empty seats and the audience is tame. Not so for this young, rambunctious crowd that hooted and hollered names of friends in the dance groups all throughout the event. Between the energy of the audience and the students moving around on stage, the 2.5 hour event felt like taking a shot of espresso.

When things get hot and heavy on stage

First off, I have to apologize at not being able to keep track of the names of the groups. Every group that took the stage was incredibly talented in their own unique way. Alas, I did not have a program with me during the concert so I could not tell exactly which group was on stage at a particular time.

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t imagine it’s easy to fit a wide variety of student acts into one concert, but Dance Mix 17 pulled it off through smooth transitions between more traditional ballet (top left picture) and decidedly modern hip-hop (top right picture), as well as dancers that both to the melodies of ballads and rock songs alike.

One of the highlights of the group was Revolution and their stringless yo-yo performance. Countless students walked across the stage slinging their plastic yo-yo’s like divine beings levitating rocks. Those plastic yo-yo’s flew across the stage and around the slingers and every trick drew fresh cheers from the crowd. Even the tricks that failed still felt like successes, and I was definitely not the only one entranced by the performance.

 

Later, Photonix performed in the dark with glow sticks, producing images like the one you see in the header photo of this blog. Towards the end of the performance, they unleashed hundreds of mini glow sticks into the audience.
The audience being composed almost entirely of students, everyone went wild.

Another highlight of the night was a Bollywood rendition of Top Gun (by Michigan Manzil I think). The story was a cliche telling of a young fighter pilot who loses his friend in a fight, but this isn’t a Hollywood film and the performance was one of the standouts of the second half of the night.

The Bollywood-esque peformance went through half a dozen wardrobe changes without a hitch, in addition to props and set pieces, and above all it was entertaining as heck.

Rounding out the rest of the night were performances by EnCore (picture below), Outrage, and FunKtion again.

I’m incredibly glad I was able to attend this event, and if you’re reading this blog and didn’t go this year, you NEED to attend next year.

REVIEW: Michigan’s Best Dance Crew

The Michigan’s Best Dance Crew Competition took place Thursday night at 8 p.m. in the Union Ballroom. The ballroom was packed with students and families cheering on their favorite dancers–the mood was electric. Many crews auditioned for a spot in the final show, but only 8 were chosen to compete for cash prizes in the finale. The ballroom was transformed to resemble MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew (ABDC), complete with large projector screens on which videos of each crew would play before they made their entrance on stage. Also like ABDC, three judges were chosen to provide feedback after each crew performed. Unfortunately, the judges didn’t provide much helpful feedback for the audience. They said a lot of nice things to each crew, but they didn’t provide any sort of objective critique. And I’m not sure that they were all the most qualified judges. One judge had no dance experience whatsoever, but liked to party and knew how to dougie. How does this make one an expert on dance? (I should have been a judge!!)  The night was hosted by our resident comedian, Eli Yudin, who also opened up for Russel Brand at EMU.

First to take the stage was Encore, a huge hip-hop dance troupe. They provided a really great opener for the show. They were incredibly energetic and had a good mix of hip-hop and techno songs in their performance. I have to give them props for having so many people on such a tiny stage, all dancing in sync together. But, I thought there were too many songs mixed in their set, with awkward transitions. In part of the performance the music transitioned from a techno/hip-hop song that was building in intensity, to an R&B slow jam, where the dancers slowed down to some lyrical hip-hop, then picked up the pace in the next song. That song choice sort of caused them to lose momentum and energy in their performance.

The Arabian Dance Ensemble was next to perform. The belly-dancers were the most unique dance group of the evening. They were really entertaining to watch, and I loved their costumes. It made me want to take a belly-dancing class! However, it was really difficult to judge such a different dance style against the predominantly hip-hop style of the show.

Also not fitting into the popular hip-hop style was Rhythm Tap, a tap dance troupe,  and Impact Dance, whose dancers do a variety of styles including lyrical, jazz, and hip-hop. It was great to see a variety of dance styles represented in the show. However, I don’t feel that they really fit in to the overall idea of a “dance crew,” which insinuates a hip-hop style. I think they realized this too, so in order to compensate these groups chose hip-hop music to dance to in their respective styles, which I wasn’t a big fan of. I couldn’t hear the dancers’ taps when Rhythm performed because the music was so loud. Being able to hear the dancers’ taps is important in judging for accuracy and togetherness in the movements. Impact Dance also performed some jazz/lyrical steps to hip-hop songs, which didn’t seem to fit with the choreography. I think they sacrificed a lot artistically in doing this. Even though they may have stood out more from the other crews, and may have been more difficult to compare to the other crews as a result, at least they would have shown the audience the best of their respective dance styles, rather than trying to mesh with a style that isn’t their own.

Several other hip hop dance crews performed in addition to Encore, including an all-girl group called Dalliance, who performed to a montage of 80’s and 90’s hits by popular R&B and rap artists. The choreography also included a lot of popular dance steps from the 80’s and 90’s. Dalliance had a lot of great energy and really gave the performance their all. Vertigo was another hip hop crew that performed, unique in that the crew is comprised of only medical students. Though they were lacking a bit in technique, they really seemed to enjoy dancing, and they ended their dance with a cute medical reference–a heart monitor flat-line.

Dance 2XS is another hip-hop crew that performed. These dancers are incredibly professional–I was impressed. They were all dressed alike in white button-down dress shirts and red ties, boys and girls alike. What I really liked about Dance 2XS is that both the guys and the girls perform equally difficult technical dance steps. The other crews that performed hip-hop throughout the night were guilty of filling their choreography with cheaper steps–booty-popping and sexier movements. I really respected Dance 2XS for never letting up the technically difficult hip-hop isolations and movements throughout their performance. They used a lot of interesting formations, and persisted with sharp, strong movements in unison. Most of all, you can tell they all LOVE to dance. Even after the performance was over and the DJ played music while they were counting votes, they all got back up and starting dancing around, just for fun, while everyone was leaving. They never stop. (Can you guess who I voted for? 🙂 )

Finally, FunKtion finished out the night as the last performance before voting opened. This all-male, multicultural group was incredibly entertaining. The guys came out on stage to “Sexy and I Know It” by LMFAO, flexing their muscles and strutting their stuff like they were in the club trying to grab all the girls’ attention–it was hilarious. I liked how they could do a variety of things within their style, from comedic routines to more serious, hard-hitting hip-hop, to really sweet, romantic songs that charm the girls. They were pretty versatile as hip-hop dancers, and really fun to watch.

I’m sure by now you’re dying to know who won. And the winners were…. In third place, Encore! In second place, FunKtion! And in first place…. Dance 2XS!

I was so delighted to see how many great dance opportunities there are at the University of Michigan for non-dance majors. Watching everyone else perform made me really miss dancing myself. I’ll have to keep an eye out for auditions to some of the crews that performed at the show! Maybe next time you’ll see me up there dancing with them…