Amid the usual traffic of students grabbing their nightly pizza slices, more than 100 students gathered around a stage in the Cooler on April 9 and 10 to watch the third annual Hyper Xpressions showcase.
The student dance company performs at various Occidental events throughout the year, including basketball half times and charity events. Members view the annual showcase as a culmination of their work all season.
“All of our pieces and all of the work we put into it is reflected in what happens in the showcase,” Executive Director Victoria Hasenfuss (junior) said.
This year, the theme of the showcase was “hold no tension.” According to Hasenfuss, the theme is mostly utilized for marketing purposes. Still, it holds significant meaning for the group.
“It is really about expressing ourselves through creative movement; for us dancers that has a more significant meaning, but then as humans and as students, we want to let go a little bit,” Hasenfuss said.
In preparation for the showcase, the company holds practice three times a week in locations including Lower Herrick, the Bengal room and the Academic Quad, according to Julia Moreland (first-year).
“This whole thing took literal blood, sweat and tears, and it was a grind, physically and emotionally. So it is great to see people appreciate the fruits of our labor,” Tyler Eng (senior) said.
The showcase began with a contemporary number to Kelly Clarkson’s “Heartbeat Song,” performed by the entire company. After this energetic opening, the company performed dances in a variety of styles, from hip-hop, contemporary and jazz. Hasenfuss explained that the showcase also provides the opportunity for the company to perform solos, ranging in form from Tahitian to contemporary.
“Everyone has their own styles that they want to do, but at the same time we bring them together in one showcase,” Hasenfuss said.
Marjorie Morales (sophomore) performed the Tahitian solo, a type of Polynesian dance, to the song “Ori Tahiti.” Morales has been studying Polynesian dance for twelve years.
“Seeing that Tahitian dancing is so normal to me, I forget that there are people who have never ever seen someone shake their hips the way I did during the showcase,” Morales said. “I’m really glad that I could share my passion and love for Polynesian dancing with the community, especially to those who had never before been exposed to Tahitian dancing. It was exhilarating to finally perform Tahitian after a year of not practicing Polynesian dancing at all. I didn’t even feel like I was dancing.”
Adela McVicar (first-year) cited Morales’ performance as a high point of the showcase.
“I thought all of the dances, especially all of the solos, were very impressive and well-prepared,” McVicar said. “For me, the Tahitian solo really stood out and the entire audience seemed really into it. Before the showcase, I didn’t realize that Hyper Xpressions [performs] styles other than hip-hop.”
Naomi Newman (first-year) and Noellie Nemoto (junior) performed the only duet of the showcase, a lyrical piece to “Mad World.”
The last number before intermission, entitled “Selfie 2.0,” was an encore from the showcase last year. The intermission featured a four-song performance by Cadence, Occidental’s all-male a cappella group.
The company returned from the intermission to the tune of a hip-hop piece entitled “‘Bout That.” This piece was followed by a hip-hop number to the recent pop hit “Jealous” by Nick Jonas.
The show culminated in a three-song finale, entitled “Twerk it,” which began with the entire company on stage in tank-tops that read, “Twerk it—Hyper Xpressions.” The crowd whooped and cheered loudly for this last number.
In the future, Moreland hopes the showcase will graduate from the Cooler to a bigger stage, like Thorne Hall. Eng, a first-season Hyper Xpressions dancer, hopes that this year’s showcase will motivate students to try dancing.
“I hope it inspires people the way it inspired me last year to join, because I think even if you do not have the most dance experience, I don’t think anyone should be intimidated,” Eng said.