In a dimly lit room illuminated by the soft glow of a lone yellow light, throngs of girls bump and grind, almost in formation, to the irresistible beats of Usher’s “Caught Up.” From the sides, guys look on, only to swoop down and initiate the primal mating ritual of hip-hop dance. Offended at the thought, the girls firmly refuse the offer and shove the men aside.
Yes, this scene is unexceptional for a weekend at Yale. But this isn’t a house party at Pierson College; this is one of many edgy dances that Rhythmic Blue’s spring show “Get Caught Up” has to offer.
The campus’s only hip-hop and contemporary dance group is unleashed this weekend at a new venue that is — quite literally — bigger and better. Straying from their usual venue of choice, Off Broadway Theater, this semester RB (as Rhythmic Blue is affectionately known) has opted to stage their show at the Educational Center for the Arts at 55 Audubon St. Farther for the average Yalie, yes, but the trek northward is worth it: the professional-quality space dwarfs the petite stage of Off Broadway, and its facilities allow for more sophisticated technical effects.
The result is a grander, more refined production. In “Shake that Sh*t,” choreographed by Michael Apuzzo ’05 and Lauren Curtis ’05, dancers gyrate their hips in near-darkness, their silhouettes placed strategically against a massive wall of yellow light. In the Michael Jackson medley “MJ Trial Remix,” choreographed by Michael Rucker ’07 and Kelly Bit ’07, three lonely spotlights augment the dramatic effect of the pairs of male dancers dancing in each.
But thankfully, RB’s show is more than just an hour and a half of flashy lights. Throughout the performance, the group showcases an uncanny versatility in its dance repertoire, adding hip-hop flair to everything from the barebone beats of Missy Elliot to the spunky songs of pop diva Britney Spears.
“What’d I Say,” choreographed by Giovanni Adams ’05, provides the biggest breathe of fresh air, incorporating the old-school Ray Charles song of the same name. Fusing swing-esque moves with more contemporary hip hop techniques, the piece proves that RB knows how to infuse new life into the hip-hop genre. In other words, RB successfully breaks out of the confines of textbook body rolls.
Not all of RB’s moves, however, are perfect. On the whole, noticeable synchronization problems hinder what otherwise could have been impeccable pieces. Moreover, some choreography was disappointingly blase, and other pieces are simply repetitive.
The dependence on hand movement in the Britney Spears medley, “That’s Our Prerogative,” choreographed by Amanda Morin ’06, left the audience a little bit wanting. Similarly, the incessant stomping employed in “Way to Go, Gwen,” choreographed by Amanda Morin ’06, hampered an otherwise impressive piece.
Moreover, as a hip-hop group, RB falters when it comes to the more subtly emotive techniques of modern dance. Spots of “Why Are You All in My Grill?,” choreographed by Trista Miller ’04 and Natalie Duncan ’06, exposed such weaknesses.
Indeed, RB truly shines when its members are delivering even standard hip-hop moves with a sharp, jarring style. “How We… Achoo!,” choreographed by Justin Hayase ’08, provides a glimmer of RB at its finest: Relying less on fancy positioning and more on the unity of its dancers, the fluid movement of this piece alternates well with the abrupt “sneeze” motif. In a similar vein, the female dancers of “A Woman for All Seasons,” choreographed by Krystle Woods ’05, performed their moves crisply and in time, including a synchronized split that will make some audience members cringe with glee.
Though held back by minor performance and choreography issues, the Rhythmic Blue spring show still brings a healthy dose of refreshing fun to the table. RB delivers hip-hop choreography of a caliber that is difficult to find on campus — that is, before the mating rituals begin in the party suites and fraternity houses.