The Breakdown on UCI Dance Culture

While UCI is known for many great achievements, one of our campus’ more unexpected — and, might I say, cool — features is the presence of a large dance scene. You may have had some early exposure if you saw some of the dance groups at the Anteater Involvement Fair, performing onstage. Or you might not notice UCI’s flourishing dance scene until later in the school year when you see them practicing all over campus, usually at night. You may unwittingly walk through a rehearsal as you’re coming out of a late night lecture and be very confused by loud hip-hop music and all the people still on campus.

Despite your surprise and embarrassment, the dance crews won’t yell at you, and they’re very open to the exposure they get. There are a variety of teams here that vary in style and focus, but seven of the main ones are competing during Welcome Week for the All UCI 7 Dance Battle, a showcase for their groups and dancers. For the event’s seventh year, seven teams will compete in three versus three battles:  BBoys Anonymous, CADC, Common Ground, INSA Dance, Kaba Modern, MCIA, Urban Mótus and LVO.

The event welcomes dancers and non-dancers alike and is free to the public in the Student Center on Wednesday night from 7-10 p.m. Based on the 536 people who have said that they are going to the Facebook event and the 1,100 that the event page was shared with, you should probably arrive early if you have any intention of going.

“I think everyone who’s ever attended can agree that it’s got to be one of the most energetic and hyped events at UCI. BBA is able to bring everyone in the community — and not even just dancers — into one giant room and share everyone’s energy. All of the dancers’ passion and energy is circulated and the crowd and judges and other dancers amplify that, and it just keeps going. It’s out of this world,” said Lang Thao, fourth-year and member of BBoys Anonymous.

Thao has been dancing for nearly six years and has danced with BBoys for the past three and a half years. The large collegiate dance community here is one of his favorite things about UCI, providing lots of resources and different people to dance with. Many of the dance teams offer their own unique character, and BBoys was especially appealing to Thao because of its emphasis on freestyling.

Several local DJs moderate the freestyle face-offs and a panel of judges (comprised of an alumnus from each of the dance teams) determines the winners. Since each team is composed of members from different campus dance teams, the competition is more lighthearted than serious. The main focus of the dance battle is to highlight the groups on campus, to showcase and build dancers’ skills and bring together an ever-growing community.

Edgardo “Jayar” Rodriguez, Jr. is this year’s captain of CADC after dancing with CADC for the past two years, and he appreciates All UCI for “celebrating our love for dance, through dance.”

While this event is unifying and inclusive, it also kicks off the schedule of auditions and competitions for the upcoming school year. Many of the teams host workshops leading up to their auditions so that new dancers can see their styles and find a group that fits them.

“To any freshman, or really anyone else out there interested in becoming a part of the dance community here at UCI, I would say to not be afraid of putting yourself out there to try new — and maybe even uncomfortable — things. A common fear between most new and starting dancers is the fear of being judged by others, and although it may inevitable, there are so many people in our community who are willing and excited to take part in your growth as a dancer, as well as a person overall,” said Rodriguez.