On Saturday night, the Usdan University Center was converted from a casual student lounging space to a small concert venue. Students filled the space in hopes of securing the best view for the evening’s FX show, crowding the winding staircase and second floor overlook. The show featured hip-hop dance groups FUSION and X-Tacy, along with special performances by Precision.
This year’s annual showcase garnered a great deal of excitement from the student body, which proved no different from previous years. Spectators arrived almost half an hour prior to the show’s start, feeding off the energy of jittery backstage dancers excited to perform their pieces.
Though the entire performance lasted just over thirty minutes, the show provided a sweeping glance at the University’s student-run dance scene. FUSION, X-Tacy, and Precision all performed brief, predominantly hip-hop styled pieces that flowed seamlessly into one another and showed off combinations characterized by synchronized, high-energy movement. For the finale, all three groups shared the stage in an engaging collaboration that closed out the show on a high note.
All 12 pieces were choreographed by the student members of FUSION, X-Tacy, and both Precision Troupe and Ensemble. The showcase allowed three groups to share the choreography they have been working on throughout the first semester.
Although most of Wesleyan’s dance groups hold auditions in the fall and save their performances for the spring semester, the FX show gives dance aficionados a chance to enjoy a casual yet dynamic performance earlier on in the year. The show is open to all students and its free admission rids students of the hassle that comes with buying tickets. Students can stop in to support their friends and leave whenever they see fit.
In most dance showcases, which tend to take place on a real fixed stage instead of the temporary platform featured at FX, audience members are expected to sit in silence with the exception of applause at the end of each number. The FX show, however, adopts an entirely different philosophy. It advertises itself as a party and a memo that was certainly received by the FX audience, who clapped, whistled, and cheered as the dancers moved through their choreography. The environment is well suited for all types of spectators, whether they are seasoned dancers themselves or first-time show-goers.
Of course, the dancers also did their part in ensuring the show’s success. Elements of choreography, performance, and transitions were all practiced to near-perfection. The stage presence throughout the entirety of the show was particularly strong, bolstered by an especially receptive crowd that was not shy about vocalizing its support towards the performers onstage.
The FX show was the first time Precision dancer Chiara Bercu ’19 performed as an ensemble member.
“It was a really exciting experience for me, as someone who has mostly performed in ballet and modern recitals,” Bercu said. “I loved how loud the audience was, and it was invigorating to feed off of that energy while I was dancing. Seeing people’s faces in the crowd also made performing feel much more personal and interactive.”
The stage was set up parallel to Usdan Café, in the space usually occupied by tables and chairs. Though the stage was small, the dancers commanded the attention of a fairly large audience by taking advantage of the entire stage.
Though much of the choreography involved sharply synchronized phrases, dancers in all three groups held the audience’s attention by constantly reorienting the arrangement and spacing throughout each combination. During a singular piece, dancers wove through one another a number of times, so that the focus was not concentrated on one performer at any given time.
Dancers also managed to change costumes between most pieces, a surprising feat given the nature of the venue. There was no real backstage area or changing space, but performers were able to make quick changes throughout the night, coordinating dress to adapt to each dance piece.
Perhaps more impressive was the ebullience that the performers brought to the stage. Amid the looming stresses of impending exams, each dancer was able to inject a much-needed dose of vibrancy into the rest of us, so we could forge ahead in these next two weeks.