This Thursday at the Fine Arts Center, four student crews will square off in hopes of becoming the University of Massachusetts’ Best Dance Crew.
The University Programming Council will be hosting the “UMass Best Dance Crew” event for the fourth year in a row. And while posters have been placed all around campus promoting the dance-off, they don’t truly begin to cover the ins and outs of this upcoming event.
Stage Crew Dance Team, Hip-Hop Culture Organization, the Dhadak Fusion Dance Team and the UMass Belly Dance Club are all competing in the event. Any style of dance is permitted, and the crews have less than four minutes to perform their routines.
Judges critique the crews on a scale of 1-5 on a variety of categories. The crew with the highest score is declared champion and awarded a large three-tier trophy.
The judges are required to stay neutral. And according to Performing Arts Event Coordinator Samantha Santiago, the crews will be scored based on categories such as originality, creativity and synchronization.
This year’s competition, Santiago said, is expected to attract a larger crowd than previous years thanks to special guest dance crew Instant Noodles. In previous years, time and spacing limited the event coordinator in tracking down a special guest, but this year Santiago was able to arrange for the well-known and highly specialized dance crew to make an appearance.
Instant Noodles is a crew from Los Angeles that made it to the final six in the sixth season of MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew.” The group will be performing during judging periods and members themselves will be judging the final round.
“We’re excited to perform on such a great stage and that Instant Noodles will be there to cheer us on as the guest crew,” said Monica Gandhi, captain of Dhadak.
Dhadak won the event during its first and third year and, according to Gandhi, the group hopes to defend its title this year. Dhadak has been a crew for eight years and consists of eight dancers that will be appearing on stage this Thursday.
“Dhadak is unique in that we don’t have just one choreographer; everyone on the team has input … it’s eclectic, expressive, unique and diverse,” Gandhi said.
Hip-Hop Culture Organization won the event during its second year and, according to club captain Marco Chiang, the group has been together for two years. The group has been rehearsing in preparation for Thursday’s competition for roughly four weeks and will have 12 to 15 members performing on stage.
“We share our love for hip-hop and break dancing indiscriminately and want others to realize the positive effects of dancing for the love of dancing,” Chiang said.
According to its captain Jacki Barzvi, the Belly Dancing Club performed in the event last year and looks forward to bringing its 50 performers to the stage this time. The crew has been rehearsing twice a week for a month.
“We have a great group of girls who just love to dance and you can definitely see it in our performance,” Barzvi said.
Among all four groups performing in Thursday’s competition, there is a mixture of excitement and nervousness, but a collective desire to share their passion and love for dance to the student population.
The idea for the event originated from Wing Lau and Stephanie Galgano four years ago.
“Because ‘America’s Best Dance Crew’ was pretty popular back then we felt that as performing arts (event coordinators) dance wasn’t very well promoted at UMass and we wanted to give students different types of exposure to arts other than just movies, concerts and lectures,” Lau said.
In past years, Santiago said, audience members have been able to go up onto the stage during the event and have gotten small prizes like T-shirts. The Fine Arts Center has reconstructed some of its seating arrangements this year, which could impact whether students in the audience will be able to get on the stage.
“Every year this event seems to be a big hit. Students come out to support their fellow students,” Santiago said.
Brittany Bowker can be reached at email@example.com.