Conte Forum was filled with screaming fans on Saturday night, but not for a 3-pointer or game-winning goal. Instead, they cheered for their favorite dance teams competing for a donation to a charity of their choice at Showdown, hosted by the AHANA+ Leadership Council (ALC). Purple lights bathed the stage as Boston College students streamed into the arena. The excited buzz in the audience turned to screams when the lights went out and a booming voice announced that Showdown 2022 had begun.
Sexual Chocolate took home the crowd choice award. Fuego del Corazón won second place, and Boston College Dance Ensemble (BCDE) took home the first prize. Each team selected a charity to support if it won the monetary reward, and BCDE will donate its winnings to the Campus School at BC.
Lubens Benjamin, chair of ALC and CSOM ’23, and Rihana Ali, legacy programmer of ALC and MCAS ’23, served as the night’s masters of ceremonies and welcomed the sold-out crowd. Kicking off the show, Benjamin reminded the audience that Showdown is a special moment for the Boston College community to come together to celebrate the range of cultures of BC students. Benjamin and Ali asked the audience of 5,300 to repeat after them as they welcomed the crowd.
“We are here to have a good time. We are here to celebrate culture. We are here to celebrate dance,” Benjamin and Ali said in unison.
Professional dancers Vivian Bruno and Jaja Leviner, alongside Yvonne McBarnett, director of the Montserrat Coalition at BC, served as the night’s judges. The judges assessed the dance teams on a scale from zero to 10 on their displays of culture, creativity, and technique. The judges used a scale of nine to assess teams’ preparedness and group dynamic, and a scale of eight to consider their formations on the stage, stage presence, and energy.
In addition to a first- and second-place winner, Benjamin explained that they would also give out a crowd’s choice award for the team that garnered the most cheers and applause for its performance.
In past years, dance teams competed in one of two categories: competition or culture. This year, the groups all competed against each other, and ALC asked all teams to incorporate a cultural element into their performances.
The crowd welcomed each team to the stage with cheers, but there were mixed reactions to the first-place result. Some members of the audience cheered for BCDE, while others booed to express their disagreement with the awards. Benjamin and Ali thanked the crowd for the night of cultural celebration as students began to file toward the exits.
Fuego del Corazón
Dancers in white uniforms and blue fringe skirts lined up as Fuego del Corazón took the stage. The music was interrupted by a crew of cruise-goers announcing Fuego’s tour across the Caribbean. The Latin dance group took home first place in the 2019 Showdown competition category and went on to win this year’s runner-up award.
Traveling across islands in the Caribbean, Fuego waved the flags of Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. The narrator gave brief descriptions of the destinations, with mentions such as Haiti’s Port-au-Prince garnering loud exclamations of pride from the audience.
The dancers quickly began their routines with each port of call. Audiences cheered on the dancers with each stop on the cruise, and distinct Latin dance styles made the group’s vacation theme come to life.
Featuring lively spins, fast footwork, and central rhythms, Fuego energetically led the crowd on a tour of Latin culture and dance. Including a dance to Romeo Santos’ “Inocente,” much of the choreography called for male and female pairs dancing in sync. On its last stop in Puerto Rico, Fuego performed a stunt in which three members lifted up a female dancer, who did a split in midair. The Latin team then struck a final pose, closing out the night’s first performing group.
A phone call buzzed in the background as the Golden Eagles took the stage, posing Charlie’s Angels–style, for their first-ever Showdown performance. While the Golden Eagles have never performed at Showdown in their 30 years at BC, they are certainly not new to performing in front of screaming crowds. The all-female team accompanies BC’s Marching Band, performing at football games for rowdy sports fans.
For its Showdown debut, the team opted for a Charlie’s Angels–themed performance, wearing all-black leotards accented by the red lights glowing on the stage. The phone call harkened back to the iconic movie and signaled the start of the routine.
The Golden Eagles wove their background in marching and pom throughout the performance with synchronized moves you would see on the field. They included a pom-style dance to close out their routine. In addition to their classic marching and pom moves, the Golden Eagles incorporated dance styles that are more traditionally seen on stage.
With Fergie’s “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got),” the dancers dropped into splits at the drop of the beat, making the crowd go wild. The all-female routine, with striking dance moves and confident movements, exuded girl-power energy as the dancers returned to their Charlie’s Angels poses to close out their performance.
A voice boomed through the speakers as the Bollywood fusion dance group Masti crafted a storyline throughout its sprawling routine. A narrator wove together a story about clashing clans that were united when two of their members fell in love.
Introducing each of the figures in their theatrical story, team members took turns taking center stage as the music shifted for each of the new characters. When the warring clans collided at the festival of Holi, dancers lined the sides of the stage, facing off in a battle. While telling a romantic story of forbidden love, the dancers impressed the crowd with their sharp and synchronized movements and high jumps as they commanded the stage.
The tempo of the music slowed, and the lovestruck couple followed each other to the center of the stage for an intimate moment before other dancers streamed around the pair. The narrator explained that the couple’s marriage created peace between the two clans, and the dancers streamed together in a precise, moving circle that stretched the width of the stage.
Masti’s story of peace connected to the night’s celebration of community. As the dancers’ colorful traditional garments flowed behind them, the crowd reacted to the drama of the story. The routine combined Bollywood music with deep bass beats of popular Western music. The emotive theatrics continued to the final moment, as the dancers dropped to the floor and the stage went dark.
BC Irish Dance
BC Irish Dance (BCID) introduced its set in a video describing the origins of Irish step dancing and the importance of Irish history, language, and culture. Katie Fox, CSOM ’22 and co-captain of the dance group, highlighted the unity at BC that BCID tried to portray through its performance.
Immediately following the video, an intense Game of Thrones theme began to play, and the dancers made their way to the front of the stage. The echoing words, “My name is Jon Snow,” entranced the crowd. The Game of Thrones soundtrack played throughout BCID’s set, with splices of contemporary artists, such as Eminem and Billie Eilish, throughout. The team’s dark uniforms, dark lighting, and fierce acoustic music all contributed to an air of somberness in the routine.
The step dancers maintained straight faces as they performed high kicks and spins, allowing their legs to portray their passion. Dancers rapidly built up the tempo of the jig as the music—and their energy—crescendoed. At one point, the team cut the music during its performance, leaving just the captivating rhythm of the dancers’ shoes striking the stage. The routine’s courtly tone was interrupted by the final, upbeat song “Heads Will Roll” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs, inciting the audience to sing along.
The Dance Organization of Boston College (DOBC), with a mission to empower women across campus, took the stage with a routine inspired by Black Widow, the only female in the original Avengers superhero lineup.
As quotes from the Black Widow movie blasted through the speakers, the dancers gracefully leapt across the stage. Their routine then faded into an eerie, slowed-down cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana.
DOBC, sticking to its girl-power theme, also incorporated many songs about powerful women, including “Black Widow” by Iggy Azalea and “You Don’t Own Me” by Leslie Gore. The words “I do believe in the empowerment of women,” rang throughout Conte as “Bad Girls” by M.I.A. began to play.
The dancers completed a routine full of beautiful movements and a powerful storyline. The team incorporated partner dancing toward the end of the routine, emphasizing its mission of solidarity among women. The routine incorporated stunning pirouettes and jaw-dropping splits and formations.
DOBC even got the crowd involved when “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes started to play, inspiring everyone in the audience to clap along. Because of its interactive performance and stunning routine, DOBC was crowned runner up for the crowd’s choice award.
The modern Latin fusion dance team Vida de Intensa Pasión (VIP) also wove a compelling storyline for the rowdy audience to follow along to. The lights went up, and the high tempo immediately sparked a new wave of energy, as the dancers flipped in the air on the shoulders of their partners.
Wearing red, tasseled costumes that flew out from their hips, female performers spun around their male partners as their feet moved in a flurry of rapid steps. Other dancers wore sleek black pants and white collared shirts that emphasized the elegant masquerade theme. Costume masks obstructed dancers’ faces, keeping the attention on their precise footwork and the dynamic between the partners.
The drama of a love triangle unfolded onstage, and the members emotively lip-synched to dialogue. When the woman at the center of it all rejected one man and strutted into her partner’s arms, the crowd cheered as the pair embraced with a sultry kiss.
The team showcased its range of talents, as the dancers shifted from their graceful ballroom style to sharp, almost robot-like movements, their chests bumping to the beat. In a dramatic final formation, the male dancers lifted their partners onto their shoulders, and the lights went down on their outstretched arms.
UPrising Dance Crew’s vice president Paddy Murphy, CSOM ‘22, and creative director Shannon Liu, Lynch ’22, promoted a message of intergenerational unity in the team’s introductory video. This spirit echoed throughout the performance.
A member brought a big bundle of colorful balloons on the stage, immediately bringing to mind Disney’s movie Up, which was the dance team’s playful theme set alongside its agenda of intergenerational appreciation. The routine revolved around explorers looking to get their final merit badge for helping the elderly, just as the young protagonist Russell had desired in Up. Wearing identical scout uniforms, UPrising’s set was endearing to the audience.
The group’s hip-hop dance style was paired with well-known classics, such as a rendition of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me,” adding an air of nostalgia. Songs from artists such as the Black Eyed Peas and Macklemore were mixed with a remix of the Little Einsteins theme song, as well as the famous Up soundtrack.
During “Rocketeer” by Far East Movement, the dancers quickly arranged themselves in an airplane shape, with arms stretched out and moving in sync. UPrising and its set garnered many cheers from the audience, which enjoyed the familiar tunes, sleek hip-hop choreography, and wholesome message.
Sticking to the 1930s and 1940s for inspiration for its swing dance style, Full Swing opted for a more modern-inspired theme of Shrek. The energy in the crowd soared as the members of Full Swing came out in full Shrek attire, including green body paint, with “Accidentally in Love” by Counting Crows blasting through the speakers.
The performance stuck to a medley of pop songs from the Shrek 2 soundtrack, such as “FunkyTown” by Lipps, Inc. and “Livin’ La Vida Loca” by Ricky Martin.
The dancers were tossed by partners and flipped throughout the routine, all while sticking to the Shrek 2 storyline. Fiona even defeated Prince Charming through an impressive lift. As Shrek and Fiona briefly changed from ogres back to people on stage, “SexyBack” by Justin Timberlake played. Between the different scenes of Shrek being performed, the stage went dark as the dancers changed into costumes.
During one of the breaks, the galloping steps and voice of Donkey sounded through the speakers, announcing that Fiona and Shrek arrived at their destination as the group reminded fans of the popular animated movie.
Toward the end of its routine, the group performed an especially impressive partner move in which one dancer grabbed a hand and a foot of their partner and swung them in a circle, gliding just inches above the stage floor. Full Swing’s creative and high energy routine truly proved that “it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing,” harkening back to the group’s motto.
BC Dance Ensemble
The ring of a telephone reverberated through the rafters of Conte Forum as BCDE took the stage for its performance centered around female empowerment. Red lights gave the stage an ominous glow that outlined the dancers’ sleek black cat suits. For their Charlie’s Angels–themed routine, the dancers struck combative poses with their arms clasped and pointing out to the audience. BCDE’s set featured music ranging from hard rock to pop songs, including “Barracuda” by Heart.
With a sudden shift in tempo, the dancers slowed their movements as a sinister-sounding remix of “Toxic” by Britney Spears played. The arena fell completely silent for one second when the music dropped out before the dancers reignited the stage with acrobatic flips that garnered applause from the audience.
Most of the 26 dancers let their teammates have the spotlight for one number, as a small group of dancers gave a solo performance, effortlessly moving in sync and landing in splits on the floor. Others crouched on the flanks of the stage before surging into exact formations behind the solo dancers.
Dancers showcased their classical training as they filled the stage and performed tight turns, their heads whipping around to meet the captivated eyes of their audience. The Showdown champions finished off their winning set with a slow, seemingly triumphant strut to the back of the stage.
Many friends of Presenting Africa to You (PATU) dancers left their seats and got up close to the main stage in order to film and cheer on the dance group that blends traditional and modern African dance styles. Dressed in colorful patterned skirts, PATU reflected African cultures and heritage through its routine. Its cultural celebration also came through in the music and unique dance styles of the performance. The set featured energetic rhythmic movement and an emphasized bass vibration, stirring up the audience’s enthusiasm.
PATU’s performance was structured around the story of Alice In Wonderland, and its soundtrack incorporated quotes from the 2010 Alice in Wonderland movie. The dancers evoked cheers from the crowd with expressive choreography and matched the beat with fast and synchronized movements.
Many body rolls and quick-paced maneuvers formed PATU’s set, exciting loud cheers from the crowd. The marimba in DJ Flex’s “Put Your Back In It” created a lively atmosphere, complementing the fast footwork of the dancers. In the final climactic moment, dancers acted out Alice’s murder of the Jabberwocky monster as thumping bass beats reverberated through the arena.
During the intermission, the audience was entertained by a performance from the a capella group Black Experience in America Through Song (B.E.A.T.S.). The singers, wearing all black with pink bracelets, sang a moving rendition of “Are You that Somebody?” by Aaliyah and advertised their upcoming show on April 30.
After B.E.A.T.S. left the stage, Benjamin and Ali came back to gauge the enthusiasm of the crowd before the show resumed. Benjamin showcased his own singing and dancing abilities, in which he covered “Waterfalls” by TLC. He also encouraged the audience to hold up the flashlights on their phones, creating a beautifully serene atmosphere before the excitement of the dance performances resumed.
Singing in the Rain is the most quintessential tap movie, so it only makes sense that BC On Tap paid homage to it in its Showdown routine. Beginning with “Singing in the Rain” by Gene Kelly, the team recreated the most well-known scenes from the movie. Throughout the routine, the dancers lip synced lines from the movie. Most of the dancers were wearing black leotards with sparkly skirts, occasionally worn with white button downs on top. Other dancers had on sparkly pants with the same white shirt.
On Tap accomplished its goal of blending tap with 21st century elements by tapping to a remix of “Singing in the Rain” in addition to the traditional version at the beginning of the routine. During the remixed version, the dancers donned yellow rain jackets and white umbrellas, similar to what characters wear in the movie. The intricate tapping sounds were audible for the audience as the music lowered and just the beat played in the background. A modern twist on tap reappeared when the group danced to a medley of pop songs, including “Umbrella” by Rihanna and “Rain on Me” by Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande. To close its routine, On Tap returned to “Singing in the Rain,” forming a line and bowing as the lights faded out.
The venue echoed with the loudest cheers of the night as the popular all-male step team assembled on stage for its ’90s themed set. Recognizing the ’90s as the era of hip-hop’s rise, an audio clip played of a commentator criticizing the genre as having a negative impact on society.
The dancers burst into their choreography as the lights went up, and a different voice asked “What are they talking about?” Dressed in vibrant beanies, overalls, and their signature Timberland boots, the dancers leaped and flipped over each others’ backs for an electrifying start to the routine.
The music cut out for the group’s first step sequence. Their hands flew across their shoulders and knees as they created their own rhythms. Dancers jumped in the air, and, landing perfectly in sync with each other, their work boots made a resounding boom.
The music resumed with a medley of ’90s hits, including “In da Club” by 50 Cent, as a dance battle ensued. The crowd watched in awe as the dancers moved their limbs powerfully before the dueling teams united with one mighty stomp, using the stage as their instrument. Coming to the end of their set, the dancers commanded the stage and moved their arms to encourage cheers from the crowd. When the lights went down on the dancers’ final dramatic stance, the crowd was left buzzing about Sexual Chocolate’s performance as the next act began.
Synergy Hip Hop Dance Company came out in full force, organized in colorful camouflage outfits. The group wasted no time in triggering loud exclamations from the audience. The dance group melded the hip-hop style with its military theme. Loud alarms aroused the crowd, alerting the incoming blast of fast-paced choreography and quick dance transitions. The flashing strobe lights built up the energy of Synergy’s dynamic performance and shined on its seemingly effortlessly synchronized choreography.
The drill sergeant narrator’s commands to “Stick together. Never leave a man behind,” were proven by the dancers in their synchronous movements. The set stuck to its military theme in marching dance moves, salutes, and helicopter sound effects. The dancers scoped out the arena, danced in crouched formations, and did body rolls to the music of artists like Migos and Wiz Khalifa.
Elements such as the bugle wake-up call and a voice commanding “Soldiers, report to duty,” added to the entertaining atmosphere Synergy cultivated in its performance. The dance team’s hip-hop and combat-style routine was proven effective in garnering the attention and rowdy cheers of students.
“Welcome to the 2022 Grammys” boomed through the speakers as Phaymus Dance Entertainment took the stage for its awards-inspired performance. Its theme for this year’s Showdown channeled female empowerment. The dancers accomplished this theme by dancing to songs made by various female Grammy winners.
Before Phaymus captivated the audience with its sultry dance moves to each song, a voice announced the category the song was nominated in. One category was for trendsetter, in which “hot girl herself” Megan Thee Stallion won for her song “Cry Baby.”
Later in the performance, the announcer asked “Any Barbs in the house?” which was met with shouts from the crowd. The Barbs, the nickname for Nicki Minaj’s fans, in the house were then satisfied as the crew started to dance to “Roman’s Revenge” by Minaj.
The routine blended classic hip-hop moves like popping with more sensual elements as the performers danced on chairs and flipped their hair. The female dancers’ costumes matched the awards theme as well, with their gold, bedazzled tops like the Grammys. As the last note of “Body” by Megan Thee Stallion, winner of Best New Artist at the 2021 Grammys, played to close the performance, one dancer stood with a gold trophy in her hand and raised it in a victorious pose after a crowd-pleasing performance.
The all-female step team Females Incorporating Sisterhood Through Step (F.I.S.T.S.) celebrated community and female empowerment with its cheerleading theme. The team’s leaders said in their introductory video that they were celebrating the work of Black female artists, and all of the dancers were decked out in black-and-white outfits with pink hair bows.
A referee ran across the front of the stage blowing a whistle to signal the start of F.I.S.T.S.’s set. The team created its own rhythms onstage with stomps and claps. Minimal segments of music during its routine ensured that the members’ self-generated beats were on full display. A loud bang rang out from the stage as the dancers suddenly dropped to the stage floor.
Getting the audience revved up, dancers motioned for students to clap and chant along with them. In one moment that earned cheers from the audience, the dancers assembled in a triangular formation as the performers in the front started a marching beat, and, creating a domino effect, the dancers behind them gradually joined in on the rhythm.
The team divided into groups and performed some cheerleading stunts, lifting dancers into the air as they pointed their arms to the ceiling. Vocal elements appeared throughout their set as the dancers yelled out “Yes, ladies.” To close out F.I.S.T.S’s performance, the music cut out, and the dancers left the audience with a step sequence, letting a final stomp echo through the arena.
AEROdynamiK Dance Crew (AeroK) sought to welcome all backgrounds to an appreciation for Korean culture and expressed interest in combatting xenophobia in the group’s introductory video. Visual coordinator Dorothy Zeng, CSOM ’22, and choreographer Austin Lu, MCAS ’22, concluded their video with a question that inflamed the crowd with enthusiasm.
“Before we begin, we have a question for you—red or blue?” they said in the video.
The question, a nod to the popular Korean series Squid Game, initiated the dance crew’s theme for Showdown 2022. Dressed in the show’s precise guard and player uniforms, AeroK made its mark as the competition’s last performer.
The team mesmerized the audience with both rapid footwork and hip-hop combos to the music of Post Malone’s “Motley Crew.” These explosive moves were interrupted by parts of its set that called for slow motion, adding to an air of anticipation.
AeroK split its members into the two Squid Game groups—players and guards—and revolved its routine around joint choreographies across both groups. The dance crew often orbited a central dancer, which alternated throughout its performance. AeroK often infused the narration of quotes from Squid Game with beat drops. A member garnered shouts from the crowd after doing backflips. AeroK left the crowd wanting more as the competition’s programming concluded, followed by the suspense of award presentations.
Featured Image by Vikrum Singh / Heights Editor and Leo Wang / Heights Staff
Correction 3/21/2022 9:54 a.m.: This article was corrected to state that Rihana Ali is MCAS ’23. It was also corrected to state that the judges used scales of eight, nine, and 10 to assess dance teams. The article previously said that a scale of 10 was used to judge all elements.