Dancers of all ages can be seen busting a move on the second day of callbacks in the North Gym of Pierce College on Saturday, Sept. 14.
“I am looking for heart,” dance instructor and choreographer Wendi Baitey said. “People here have various dance backgrounds in ballet, jazz, modern, and then there’s even the street kids. I am just looking for raw talent.”
Successfully adding this class is not as easy as it would appear. Students arrive for the first day of auditions and try their best to prove to the instructors that they have what it takes to keep up with a professional course.
“We are looking for professional,” said Denise Gibson, adviser to the Street Dance Club. “This is an audition. We see what they have to offer and if we see professional, then we give them an add slip to get them into the class. The [dance] club on campus is really for those who didn’t make it in, but still really want to dance. I’m sure you’ve seen them dancing around on campus, and even in the parking lots.”
Like any physical activity, the day started with a warm up. The dancers formed a “cypher,” or a dance off circle.
“The cypher is to get them moving and loosened up. It’s also an opportunity to see what they got and what kind of styles they have,” Baitey said.
Opening up the dance-off to Jay-Z’s “Tom Ford,” the performance began. Showing off their own original styles one by one, variations of hip-hop and street dance flowed from the performers. More commonly known to the dance community as “breakers,” they showcased their acrobatics against each other in a blur of arms and legs while cheers and shouts could be heard from onlookers.
After learning a complex dance routine that they memorize in minutes, the performers were to listen to a selection of songs and pick which ones they would rather dance to.
“I have them decide on a song choice to see how serious they are about this class,” Baitey said. “I showed them a fun song, and a song that was slower but filled with meaning. They chose the one with meaning and heart.”
One does not have to be a student at Pierce College to be in the program. Jarek Hernandez is a 12-year-old boy who made the cut through auditions.
“I have been dancing for five years. I got started when I was watching the Jabbawockeez one day and I felt that was what I really wanted to do,” Hernandez said.
Once the dancers make it into the class, they have to continue to prove that they can remain on the roster.
“This is a class. If you miss two rehearsals, you will lose your spot and become an understudy,” Gibson said.
For those that did make the cut and received an ad slip, dance rehearsals are Saturdays from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the North Gym.