Hyper Xpressions brings new moves to campus

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Author: Saybin Medler|Saybin Medler

New dance crew, Hyper Xpressions, fills gap in Occidental’s dance community.

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It is dark out as a white SUV drives up and parks. Seven people quickly get out of the car and make their way over to a freight container with a spotlight on it. The music starts and suddenly all the people in the spotlight break into dance.

This is the beginning of Hyper Xpressions’ latest video, which can be found on their Facebook page. The dance is to “Ditch That” by The Dream and was choreographed by two of the founding members Timothy Chang (senior) and Arielle Laub (junior).

Chang, Hyper Xpressions’ executive
director, noticed an apparent absence of dance groups at Occidental, and decided
to take it upon himself to change that by starting Occidental’s first dance crew.

“I
personally saw a lack of a performance crew on campus,” Chang said. 

While Occidental does have dance groups on campus, such as PULSE, Dance Production, and Dance Team, PULSE does not perform, Dance Production only performs in the spring and Dance Team mainly performs at competitions and home sporting events.

“This means that there are no other student dance performances the rest of the year,” Chang said. “We wanted to change that.”

Chang brought Laub on as artistic director and Annie Yang (sophomore) on as administrative director last year. Together, the three of them have worked this fall towards getting their new dance crew, Hyper Xpressions, off the ground.

Hyper Xpressions is made up of 16 select dancers with previous dance experience focused on performing. The group formed last year, but did not start gaining momentum until this fall.

“We
just auditioned in our first group of dancers a couple weeks ago,” Chang said. “We are really excited about the group that we have this semester, there is a
lot of talent.”

According to Yang, the group’s focus this fall is their videos on CatAList. They will be having bi-weekly videos showcasing the different dancers and choreographers within the group. This will be one of the main ways students can see the group.

Hyper Xpressions is also working towards performing at events on
campus, but they are still getting to know each other and learning how to work with one another. Although their plan is to have more performances in the spring, they already have tentative plans for a performance on campus this fall. 

“I think that we will be performing at Up ‘Til Dawn, and we hope to perform
at other events throughout the year as well,” Chang said.

Eventually, Hyper Xpressions hopes to perform not only on campus, but at other venues in L.A.,
such as local events, high schools and even other colleges. Right now the
group is only funded by the Associated Students of Occidental (ASOC), but they hope to get enough funding soon to start doing other performances and become financially independent.

In order to gather the funds they need to become self-supporting, the group created an account with Kickstarter, an online fundraising platform that helps different creative projects raise money.

“People can pledge different amounts; if they pledge $50 then they get a credit on CatAList and if they pledge $100 then they get a free class,” Yang said.

So far, the Kickstarter fundraiser has been very successful. With 42 supporters, they have already raised $2,330 and surpassed their goal of $1,000 for this semester.

For now, Hyper Xpressions is just focusing on becoming more well-known on campus.

“We just really want to get
ourselves on the map and make ourselves known as a legit dance crew,” Chang said. 

As well as bringing their performances out into the L.A.
community, the group is also hoping to use the local dance culture to advance their
dancers.

“L.A. is such a great place for dancers, it has a lot to offer,” Laub
said. 

By learning several different styles of dance, the group is focusing on diversifying their dances. In order to accomplish this, they have invited several different professional dancers to come teach master classes. A few weeks ago the group invited Chryssie Whitehead, a dance teacher from Edge Performing Arts Center, to teach a Jazz Funk dance. 

 ”I have worked with Chryssie in the past and specifically brought her in to work with Hyper Xpressions because she inspires you to break your comfort zone and take risks,” Chang said. “Every member of Hyper Xpressions was touched by her. We all grew together as a group through her class, and will continue to incorporate her teachings in our dancing. We hope to have her back in the future.”

Hyper Xpressions had more than 15 people audition this year, but they were only able to admit eight dancers. The other eight dancers that complete the group were part of it last year.

The group incorporates dancers from many different dance backgrounds, including ballet, modern, hip-hop, popping, b-boying and even Latin-ballroom dancing.

“With such a diverse group, we can all learn something from someone else,” Laub said. ”I myself was trained in ballet, but I am really excited to become better at hip-hop.”

The directors hope that they will be able to bring together all of the different styles of dance and not only accentuate each dancer’s strengths, but also help all of the dancers improve.

“Right now we are working on four different dances,” Laub said. “This way the dancers can choose to do whichever dances they think will showcase their strengths the most.”

With only 16 dancers, Hyper Xpressions believes their small size benefits
the group by allowing them to work in close collaboration and on multiple dances at one time.

For dancers who have an interest in joining the group, Hyper
Xpressions will be holding auditions at the start of every semester.

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