Abun-dance of diversity


Nov. 11, 2022, 1:54 p.m. | By Isabelle Yang | 3 weeks, 6 days ago

An introduction to all the different dance clubs in Blair


Editor’s Note: Maya Britto is co-Editor-in-Chief of Silver Chips Online.

Hundreds of Blazers file into the sports stands and the soccer field is empty. The stage is set - the dancers take their place in formation and music blasts through the speakers to the cheers and screams of the crowd. A rare chance to perform in front of the entire school, the pep rally is an opportunity for the dancers of the school to show off their hard work and passion for dance.

Almost every day during lunch or after school, the dance studio is occupied by zealous dancers and their exuberant energy. From those who have danced for all of their life to those picking up a new hobby, a myriad of opportunities awaits them: Bantu African Dance Team, Poms, Blair Dance Crew, K-pop Dance Club, Blair Bollywood and Blair Breakers.

Bantu African Dance Team

Every Monday to Thursday between 2:45 and 4:30 p.m. the main stairwell reverberates with the strong rhythms and singular drum beats that characterize Afrobeats dance as the Bantu African Dance Team practices. With its freedom and characteristic grooviness, the genre attracts many dancers, including sophomore Abigail Mokossa, one of the three captains of the team. "With African, like Afrobeat, [you] can get low, wind your waist, pop your back and nobody's gonna question it," Mokossa says.

The team performs around the school in sports games, International Night, Sankofa, flash mobs and more. After tryouts at the beginning of the school year, the team meets four times a week in the school year to learn and practice choreography. The captains - sophomore Mariem Sanbe, sophomore Maimune Kanteh and Mokossa - teach choreography to the team of around 19 dancers, perfecting formations and straightening lines.

More than a love for dance, being a Bantu dancer is an opportunity to express and connect with their West African heritage. For Sanbe, the team has become a part of her identity. "[When people] ask me what I do, I say that I'm a part of the African Dance team. I say it loud and proud," Sanbe says.

While cafeteria manager Christine Blanton and paraeducator Kira Scott sponsor the team, Mokossa is the main choreographer of the team. She creates most of the choreography over the summer, to songs such as "C'est Dosé" and "GBOBOLOR" that showcase the flair and energy of Afrobeats dance.

Poms

Rather than focusing on a specific style of dance, Montgomery Blair Poms incorporates moves from a broad range of genres including ballet, jazz, hip-hop and lyrical. Distinguished by their distinct jazz shoes and pom-poms, they perform during football season, basketball season, orientations and more.

The team hosts three-day tryouts before school starts, selecting a team that can learn choreography and that possesses a certain skill set of jumps, leaps and turns. Though some members of the team have an extensive background in dance, no formal training is required to be on the team.

As an official varsity sport, Poms is also a huge time commitment. Adding to the two to three-hour practices every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, Poms also performs at games on Friday with other events interspersed between. Senior Gisselle Berrios comments on the necessary time commitment to perfect routines and to constantly improve. "You want to stay longer to practice the routine or learn new skills; I will literally sleep while doing movements," Berrios says.

Poms repeatedly rehearses their routine during practice. Photo courtesy of Jonas Laufer.

In addition to performances at sports games and school events, Poms also participates in competition season around February. With a six-minute routine, the environment and intensity level is different from their usual two to three-minute performance at sports games. While football season choreography is created by the captains, coaches Makeyda Soriana and Kassandra Drammeh choreograph for competition. 

For captain senior Lauryn Wade, the team forms a supportive community like no other. "​​This team is definitely the most supportive and, like, it's like no matter what, we're always here for one another," Wade says.

Blair Dance Crew

Another environment for those passionate about dancing is the Blair Dance Crew, which meets every Tuesday during lunch and occasionally Thursday after school. Putting together performances for the pep rally, flash mobs and other events, the dance troupe presents an alternative for passionate dancers.

Currently, the troupe consists of 15 dancers selected from tryouts in the first few weeks of school.

Over the summer, captain junior Qari Headley works on choreography to music such as "Maneater", with the help of co-captains Meleny Arias-Ramos and Margaret Nkafu.

Though mostly focused on hip-hop, the troupe also includes a variety of other genres in their repertoire."We're going to try and do a lot of different genres, so if you don't want to just stick to one genre, [dancers] can come here," Headley says.

K-pop Dance Club

Though for those specifically interested in K-pop, the K-pop dance club meets every Thursday during lunch at 11:20 a.m. almost every single week, the club will learn new choreography for dance breaks or K-pop songs. 

Usually, Sophia Dominguez, the president of the club, teaches choreography as the members follow along. The club is open to anyone to join throughout the year. "Everyone is welcome, you don't have to have dance experience and you can be new to k-pop. We're all very inclusive, we're just here to make friends and dance," Dominguez says.

Blair Bollywood

On Wednesdays, an entirely different genre of upbeat and energetic music fills the dance studio, as Blair Bollywood meets. Lively chatter gives way to an organized class, as more than twenty members learn a fusion of classical Bollywood dance and western styles taught by seniors Anushka Poddar and Maya Britto.

Having danced Bharatnatyam - a traditional South Indian dance style - for more than a decade, Poddar and Britto wanted to share South Asian dances with the community. "Our goal isn't necessarily to make everyone perfect and their technique super refined, we're just exploring different dances and having fun," Poddar says.

Blair Breakers

In a similar vein of introducing their passion to the Blair community, Isaac Witte and Ezra Bailey founded Blair's newest dance club, Blair Breakers. "Breaking is in the Olympics now, so I think it's really important that Blair offers some sort of place for people who are interested in breaking," Witte says. 

Instead of the dance studio, sneakers screech across the wooden floor of the wrestling room every Thursday. In the club, Witte and Bailey introduce the five main categories of breaking: top rock, footwork, power freezes and transitions. While the members try back spins and floor rocking, Witte and Bailey give tips and answer questions about the moves. 

The options for prospecting dancers are endless as Blair's dance tropes span from cultural and ethnic dancing to hip-hop to breaking. Even for those who aren't dancers, make sure to come out and support the various dance teams when they perform!



Last updated: Nov. 11, 2022, 2:18 p.m.


Tags: Dance K-pop Poms African Dance Team Breaking Bollywood

Isabelle Yang. Hi! I'm Isabelle (she/her). Outside of SCO, I love to listen to music, hike and solve puzzles. More »

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