I figure I should begin this piece with the obligatory joke about how I can’t dance, but I almost feel like that would be kind of redundant. Look, I’m lanky and uncoordinated, and let’s leave it at that. With that in mind, I never would have expected that my Saturday would lead me to the Fayerweather Dance Hall to learn choreography for Beyonce’s “Love on Top” from Milk & Choreo. But, to be perfectly honest, I’m kind of glad it did.
Milk & Choreo is sort of like Wesleyan’s no-rules introduction to hip-hop: an hour-long weekly group with no serious commitment or demands other than to show up and learn some moves to popular songs. The group was started by Cole McNamee ’15, Jillian Roberts ’15, Leo Enverga ’15, and Sukhbat Lkhagvadorj ’15. The four have extensively pursued dance at Wesleyan only to recognize the limited opportunities for dancing on campus.
“After auditions, if you don’t get into groups or shows, there’s really nowhere to dance,” McNamee said.
In many ways, this is what works so well about the group: it simply offers a means for developing and honing the skills of people who just love to dance, even if, as in my case, they just don’t know it yet.
Admittedly, when I showed up, I was still a little nervous. First of all, a friend of mine who had also decided to attend the workshop chickened out as soon as she stepped into the room and realized that she and I were the only ones without any real dancing experience. I tried not to be disheartened by her desertion, although I quickly realized I was the only person in the room wearing jeans and ratty old sneakers. Thankfully, everyone in the room gave off the vibe that they were just there to have fun.
Every week, the group will be exploring different styles of music and dance. The theme for the session I attended was what McNamee called “grooving,” a largely pop-oriented type of dance that requires constant movement. We began with some basic stretches and warm-ups. McNamee then started us off with the five or so basic moves around which all of the choreography would be based.
McNamee had a pretty good teaching style, slowly taking us through the moves step by step. As a result, it was all deceptively simple at first: a short sidestep here, some fingersnapping there, finish it off with a twirl. However, as the steps started to pile on and things sped up, it became a genuine challenge to avoid tripping over my own feet. But as time went on, we repeated the moves, and the same 20-second segment of Beyoncé started to carve itself into my brain. Unexpectedly, I began to get the hang of things. Hell, by the end of it, I could actually understand how to piece together moves for the rest of the song. Granted, any pride I had was completely dashed when McNamee proceeded to do his rendition of the song and made us all look like chumps. But hey, it was a learning experience.
After a final run-through of the whole piece, we finished things off with a bit of freestyling, which cemented in my mind just how superior everyone else’s dancing skills truly were. Still, I can honestly say that the whole workshop was actually a lot of fun, and I even left it a slightly better dancer than when I entered. Anyone interested in seeing some of the moves we learned on Saturday can check out the YouTube video they recorded (without my consent might I add…though I do look pretty good).
If you have any interest in honing your skills in a judgment-free space, you should definitely check it out. You might even see me there.