Kickin’ Back Dance Crew looks to emerge as its own dance club

By Catherine Ferris

(Araz Havan/Daily Collegian)
(Araz Havan/Daily Collegian)

While the University of Massachusetts is home to a number of dance clubs and teams, the Kickin’ Back Dance Crew is looking to create its own path, most recently with a showcase Sunday afternoon in Bowker Auditorium at 2 p.m.

Established in 2012, the Registered Student Organization currently has 15 members and four captains, all of whom are seniors who have been involved since its inception.

Katherine Treat, a senior studying political science and French, is a captain who joined the team when she was looking for a dance club on campus.

Despite the number of dance groups on campus, she found the Kickin’ Back Dance Crew to be the right fit.

“I really liked the people, and the point is to have a lot of fun,” she said. “We don’t do any kind of competition. We get together and choreograph our own dances and try to allow everyone to put their artistic input into dances we’re creating together.”

Responsibility for the choreography is also shared among the team.

Treat said there was one dance that was choreographed by the entire team, while smaller groups of members have choreographed other dances.

“It’s nice because we get to share the responsibility, especially being seniors and captains,” Treat said of her fellow captains. “There are so many other things we’re doing. So the fact that there are four of us is really nice.”

Auditions are held in the fall semester, and typically attract between 10 to 15 students. Treat said no men have auditioned for the group.

“We’re still trying to develop, and this is actually the first year we’re doing our own showcase,” she said. “Before, we only did University sanctioned performances, like Relay for Life or UDance. Now, we’ve been able to get a lot of good members and build up enthusiasm.”

The Kickin’ Back Dance Crew was not the only dance group performing Sunday. UMass Stage Crew, a dance team that the club has performed with in the past, also took part in the showcase along with the UMass Dance Club, the Hip Hop Culture Organization, the Belly Dance Club and Wicked Pitch.

The dance group didn’t have an easy time finding practice space or organizing the performance. Members meet Sundays and Wednesdays for rehearsals, but Wednesdays have been proven difficult to find open rooms.

“So many times we get placed in a room that you can’t even move in,” Treat said.

The group sometimes practices in hallways with barely enough space.

The process for organizing the showcase was difficult for the club as well. The Fine Arts Center had to be contacted and forms filled out and approved in order to host the performances.

Despite the lengthy planning process, Treat said her involvement with the staff at Bowker Auditorium went smoothly.

“Through our experience of performing with Stage Crew, the people who work at Bowker, like the tech people, are very accommodating,” she said.

Although there were some obstacles in the organization process, Treat said those challenges were lessons learned for future performances.

Since the club first began in 2012, lessons like these have helped to make a difference in the club in Treat’s eyes.

“I think it’s a lot more organized. I’ve been a member for four years, and I think we’ve been able to structure practices better now that it’s been a couple years,” she said. “The current captains have been on the team for four years, so we understand what’s needed and we’ve been able to expand.”

Catherine Ferris can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @Ca_Ferris2.