Last Sunday, thousands of people lined up outside of the Bren Events Center for the biggest dance show of the year at UCI: “VIBE XV.” Created by Lambda Theta Delta Fraternity and co-sponsored by Kallusive Clothing, this hip-hop dance competition brings performers from all across the state every year. The biggest student group event at the Bren Events Center featured 26 teams, both in exhibition and competition. Even better, the event was for a good cause: this year’s “VIBE” showed support against budget cuts for the dance community.

The proceeds from the competition went to LTD’s charity of the year, Culture Shock LA – a dance troupe that does dance education and outreach to diverse communities. Due to budget cuts, they’re more constricted in their ability to help the community. LTD took it upon themselves to fundraise for their cause: helping kids realize their potential through the arts.

Culture Shock LA even had their own performance in “VIBE,” themed off a combination of the Wizard of Oz and “The Wiz.” It was a fun performance to start off with and aptly demonstrated the good spirit of the dance community.

Although there were lots of strong performances, the best competition performance of the first half was undoubtedly that of 220, a dance crew from San Diego. They started with the DJ Earworm mash-up, “United States of Pop 2009: Blame It on the Pop,” which is a fairly famous medley of the top 25 pop hits from 2009. They even threw in a few ballads, spicing them up with some very sexy dance moves. Their scandalous set was second to none.

As the night went on, dance groups continued to storm the stage. Surreal’s performance was of a high school prom night, with girls wearing dresses and boys wearing ties. NSU Modern performed to “Tik Tok” and “Bad Romance” – unfortunately, the Ke$ha song was not really of much musical or rhythmic value. While NSU Modern’s routine was clean and sharp, there was not enough variety in it for it to be interesting.

PAC Modern from Long Beach did a set including “Love is Gone” and, with the help of some David Guetta mixes, helped created the feeling of a formal rave. Funkanometry SF performed to the Brown Eyed Girls’ “Abracadabra” and brought Korean pop music to a hip hop arena. Shereos, the only all female dance crew, brought a feminine style to hip-hop swagger for an amazing show.

Unity LA and Entity contributed a contemporary, lyrical style – a welcome contrast to the hip-hop dance crews. Unity LA’s performance was a tear-jerker; by the end, there was a feeling that they had really inspired the audience.

The crowd’s favorite performance was undoubtedly Anbu Black Ops, an exhibition team formed by various CADC, Quest, Boxcuttuhz and Kaba Modern alumni. They performed a complex routine to a mix of “Shots” by LMFAO, “Cuz I Got High” by Afroman, “Hide & Seek” by Imogen Heap and theme songs as ranging from “The Pink Panther,” “Mortal Kombat” and even “Naruto.” This remarkably creative routine with difficult choreography could have easily won first if they had performed it in competition. Anbu Black Ops were definitely the most fun group to watch; in their ninja outfits, they provided a true anime dance crew.

One special treat was the performance by the America’s Next Best Dance Crew, Poreotics, from Westminister, CA. They were clearly a great robotics crew, but the unity of 40 people with big movements on stage just outweighed six dancers with smaller, more intricate movements.

The biggest frustration during the competition was not a mediocre dance crew but the emcee, “Mookie.” He came from the dance crew SickStep – apparently, being a good dancer is supposed to make you a good announcer as well. He constantly tried to hype up the audience, sometimes unnecessarily. Instead of bringing up the energy, he destroyed the crowd’s natural enthusiasm by awkwardly joking around with various students on the floor. At least he made everyone look forward to the performances and away from the breaks.

The three UCI teams were definitely crowd pleasers, with Common Ground receiving second place in the competition. They were definitely the best team in my mind with a very complex storyline. They had athletic choreography, lots of good moments and showcased a lot of amazing talents. It was definitely a dynamic show. In attractive dress clothes, Kaba Modern had a good show. Their intricate movements definitely kept with the high UCI standard. CADC’s set was an energy filled variety show of wacking, popping, locking, breaking, hip-hop choreography and contemporary dancing. Performing towards the end was hard because of the lack of energy from the crowd, but they definitely brought the energy to the stage.

The other two winners, Choreo Cookies and Team Millenium, certainly pleased the judges but perhaps not as much the crowd. Choreo Cookies had a clean and very difficult show, which is definitely an amazing feat. They clearly had the best execution of the night and are setting high standards for the entire circuit. Team Millennia, from Fullerton, wore white outfits, which emphasized their clean routines even more. Their set, with a fun story and great music selection, was very enjoyable; there was never a dull moment.

Although the ticket price may have seemed high, seeing over 25 performances was well worth the $23. Watching “VIBE” as an UCI student is a unique experience, if just to see the size of the dance community beyond our campus – which, when crammed into the Bren Events Center, was quite a sight. Learning about teams from all across the state, and then knowing that so many of them are affiliated with UCI makes me very a proud anteater. The support that the dance community garners, the causes it supports, and the love it brings was absolutely amazing to see. Each year, “VIBE” gives us our own “America’s Next Best Dance Crew,” with all of the amazing performances and none of the cut-throat competition, on our very own campus.