Formed by Lambda Theta Delta in 1996, VIBE is a dance competition that has gathered the attention of prominent dance groups throughout California and across the world. As Skylar Lee from Team Millennia puts it, “VIBE is one of the most important competitions since it is the first time we show our first competition set to the public.” Sunday, Jan. 27 commemorated VIBE’s 18th year with 10 exhibition groups and 15 competing groups convening at the Bren Events Center to show off their chops for the year.
“But backstage it’s basically this huge dance community mixer,” Alyssa Cachero, a senior member of CADC, laughs. “The competition on stage is a whole different story though. That is where you can see the passion and fire teams have for dance.” And Cachero doesn’t mince words. Once Mix’d Elements hit the stage Sunday night, I could tell that the — dare I say it — VIBE had been set for the night. It only became more intense from there.
As the evening continued on, I found myself admiring all the teams and finding a special moment with all of them. I found myself crying over the incomprehensible talent of the under-18 Emanon exhibition team; becoming enamored with Frenemies as they took lighthearted jazz and pop to create something fun instead of hardcore; disbelieving my own senses when KRNFX and Mike Song combined their inhuman beatboxing and dancing techniques into what was arguably the best crowd-pleaser of the night; and being mind-blown by how Team Millennia intertwined story elements with different forms of dance to produce an overreaching theme in their routine.
But when it came time to announce the winners, I couldn’t tell you who would get first. Or who would even place. Everyone just performed above and beyond what I had expected. However, only three teams could ascend that stage, and the other 12 would have to congratulate them from the sidelines.
In third place for the second year running was Kaori Alive. Their piece was almost like an opera — it had a story, it had tragedy, it had emotion and it had a powerful ending that quite literally screamed “No War.” The dancing itself was not the conventional hip-hop — instead it was what I can only describe as a mixture of synchronized swimming, ice skating, lyrical dance and ballet. What really got to me was when the Japan-based team won the award and all the members couldn’t stop crying. As someone behind me said, “That’s how you should accept an award.”
Just one point above them in second place was another team from Japan, the fan favorite Koutei Sennin. At 94.4, their routine was unlike anything else at the competition. Set in a hospital, the dancers pantomimed surgery and electroshock therapy, employing the most accurate, well-timed, sharpest isolations I have ever seen. You really needed to watch this. It received the first and largest standing ovation of the night, and anybody who was there could tell you that they more than deserved that second place.
And in first place, barely beating Koutei Sennin by a 0.4 point difference, was the reformed G-FAM. G-FAM (typically called GRV) stormed the stage with an overwhelming 66 people and grooved and moved to the beat faster than I could believe, never once breaking for a breather like other teams tend to do when they encounter a fast portion of a routine. Their erratic, controlled chaotic style of dance that combined all parts of their bodies at all times, together with their constant movement only broken by slow-mo and freeze frames, grew on me as time passed. The first minute had me thinking they weren’t worthy of placing, but by the end of their routine, I couldn’t stop smiling at just how phenomenal they were.
In the end though, the competition was more than just a trophy. In reality, it is held as a fundraiser for non-profit organizations that the brothers of LTD choose to support each year. With the help of an alumnus of LTD, LAPD Officer Billy Lee, the frat has decided to forward the funds of the competition to the LAPD’s Watts Tutoring Program this year. This program’s aim is to reduce crime in one of the most violent cities in the United States by educating the children who live in the area and getting them involved and interested in school.
I know VIBE XIX is a year away, but if you’re looking for a good way to have fun, I highly recommend going. You get to see dancers from around the state and world compete in our very own Bren Events Center, and the money from the event goes to a really good cause. Either way, you end the night with really good vibes — oops, I used it again. Guess it’s still got me enthralled.