From breakdancing on the Hoya Break Squad to performing a fusion of Irish and South Asian dance styles on the Irish Step team, there is no shortage of opportunities to dance at Georgetown.
“I love the people, the swag, the style,” Groove Theory member Nancy Hinojos (SFS ’15) said. “Both the dancers and the audience share in the energy, the hype, the adrenaline rush.”
Though the university has no academic programs for dance, it is home to a wide array of student-run dance companies.
Membership in some groups, like Groove Theory and the Georgetown University Dance Company, requires students to undergo a rigorous audition process. Kelly Kimball (NHS ’16) has been dancing for 16 years and was overjoyed to become a part of Groove Theory after more than a week of strenuous auditions
“I absolutely love hip-hop dancing and have been dancing since I was 2, so dance has always been a huge part of my life,” Kimball said. “I knew that dance was something that I definitely wanted to continue in college.”
But not all groups require such dance expertise. Jacob Arber (SFS ’14) had never danced before coming to the Hilltop and joined the Georgetown University Ballroom Dance Team on a whim. Now, he’s the group’s president.
“I first became involved because I thought ballroom would be a fun and unique activity to try out,” he said. “I’d never danced before and wanted to learn how since I think it’s a useful skill”
Members’ reasons for joining dance groups are as diverse as their backgrounds.
“Many of the members in the Hoya Break Squad join because they want to explore a uniquely dynamic culture that is a blend of physical skill, musicality and individuality,” Hoya Break Squad member Davisson Han (MSB ’13) said. “Others come to hang out with their friends and learn cool moves to show off at parties. Whatever the reason, our end goal is to have a good time doing what we do.”
Although some members are involved in competitions, Han said that the squad, which is composed of nine performing members, promotes breakdancing culture in a welcoming environment.
“Simply put, we’re here to dance,” Han said.
Black Movements Dance Theatre has a similar attitude toward recruitment, with a focus on dedication and passion.
“We move with our bodies but dance with our souls,” said Bernadette Nelson (SFS ’14), co-director and publicity coordinator for BMDT. “We want to find members whose passion for dance is reflected by how they move.”
BMDT is a noncompetitive group that seeks to portray the cultural and ethnic diversity of the Georgetown community by expressing black traditions, values and experiences, according to Nelson. The group incorporates performances by spoken-word artists Vivian Ojo (SFS ’14) and Toby Campion(COL ’13).
While BMDT has had a strong presence at Georgetown for over 30 years, new dance groups have emerged on campus in recent years. Currently in its third semester, Dynami, the Greek dance troupe, has showcased the talents of its 16 members. The group was featured in an episode of D.C. Cupcakes on The Learning Channel and has performed at the French and Greek embassies.
Dynami member Andrew Theodotou (MSB ’14) said that the group has doubled its membership this year and has benefited from funding secured by the Student Activities Commission.
“Initially, we only had eight members and no funding or costumes,” he said. “SAC has been very accommodating to fund our costume purchases and travel expenses. It’s opened up some excellent opportunities for us since we can perform for free.”
But Dynami still lacks the resources to participate in competitions — a problem that Theodotou said puts a damper on growth.
“We don’t have the resources to achieve such authenticity as would be required to be successful at competitions,” Theodotou said. “But our group is far more motivated by camaraderie and personal expression than just the idea of winning a competition.”
Theodotou added that increasing practice space availability would help smaller groups expand their on-campus presence.
Irish Step Team member Catherine Razeto (COL ’13) agreed.
“Irish dancing is supposed to be done on hardwood floors, but that is not available to us on campus,”Razeto said.
The team currently shares space with other dance groups at Riverside Lounge, which houses dance practice areas.
Rangila, an annual cultural show and fundraiser for the Asha Kendra Hope Center in India, is perhaps the university’s biggest showcase of campus talent. More than 400 dancers appeared in Rangila last year, and participating groups ranged from the Irish Step Team to GU Jawani.
Theodotou said he sees room to expand on events like Rangila.
“We should have a single event dedicated entirely to cultural performing groups of all varieties,”Theodotou said. “An event like this would give year-round groups the opportunity to perform side by side.”
But for members of the Hoya Break Squad, raising awareness is a simple matter of holding practices in public.
“For Georgetown as a community, I believe that the best way to promote a group is to show what it’s about when people aren’t expecting it. When something spontaneous happens, people might discover they’re interested,” Han said.