Breaking down stylistic walls

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Mariah Herrera, Co-President of UNC Club Dance Team, teaches auditioning students a hip-hop routine. (The Mirror/Erika Siebring)

University of Northern Colroado’s Club Dance team is living, breathing proof that passionate, well-rounded entertainers don’t always come from UNC’s Broadway-esque School of Theatre Arts and Dance.

At its fall audition on Sunday, the hip-hop-based performance team illustrated how artistic expression of the body has roots in different backgrounds. Having had prior experience with everything from the poise and precision of ballet to the upbeat nature of poms and cheer, hopeful auditionees got a taste of the powerful movements of hip-hop. Even Co-President Hope Hurley, who joined the team her freshman year and has primary experience in poms, said that entering a new style presented a challenge for her.

“I’m actually learning it, because I came on this team when it was more jazzy. So now that we’re switching to the hip-hop, I’m also adjusting,” Hurley said.

The senior elementary education major explained that her dance experience led her to trying out for various professional dance teams, including the Broncos and Nuggets, getting as far as the semi-finals. However, the team’s officers made it a point to the crop of experienced and semi-experienced performers that mistakes during the studio didn’t seal their fate.

Co-President Mariah Herrera, who is also one of the team’s choreographers, made it explicitly clear that some of the main things the club looks for doesn’t necessarily have to do with the choreography. According to Herrera, if a participant is having fun, if enthusiasm is dripping from their face and their bodies are energized, that is what’s important.

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Learning and practicing a piece to “Get Low” by Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz, students and re-auditioning club officers dove into a fast-paced routine Herrera taught them. Alternating between rolling through their bodies and sharp, sturdy movements,  the dancers were encouraged to bring their own personality to the routine. Performing for the officers in small groups, students took advantage of the eight counts before the track to immerse themselves in the dance; freestyling by themselves for a few more eight counts to a song of their choosing, each dancer got the chance to really show themselves and what they bring to the table.

Ultimately landing on a group of about 20 individuals, the Club Dance team is scheduled to perform at halftime shows for various UNC rugby and hockey games. The team’s first performance of the year is Saturday, Sept. 23 at the UNC rugby game.

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