Rhythmic Blue, Yale’s first and only hip-hop and contemporary dance group, held their opening shows of the year last week on Nov 6. and 10. 

Rhythmic Blue is a dance group founded in 1991 that encompasses different elements of hip-hop. Affiliated with the Afro-American Cultural Center as a resident group, it pays homage to the dance styles that originated from African American communities. Their choreography merges modern, tap, street jazz and contemporary African styles and showcases these dances in two shows yearly, one at the end of each semester. They also perform at various events throughout the semester, including charity events and the Yale-Harvard football showdown. 

This September, Rhythmic Blue welcomed in its new members for their fall 2023 tap class. The newly inducted group of talented young dancers includes Tori Browne ’27, Alice Zhong ’27, Shirley Zhu SPH ’25, Christian Daniels ’27, Kianna Jean-Francois ’27, Natalie Leung ’27, Cheryl Zhang SOM ’24 and Nneka Moweta ’27. 

“Auditioning for RB was a really fun learning experience,” Daniels told the News. “Before I came to Yale, I knew I wanted to dance in a Hip Hop group, as Hip Hop has always been an important aspect of my life. Growing up in predominantly African American spaces, hip-hop dance was always a key part of me.”

Daniels said that he always wanted to join a hip-hop team but was never able to as he did not have access to a studio at home. Upon being accepted to Yale, however, he knew he had to fulfill what had always been a lifelong goal. 

After initial tryouts, he was pleased to be one of the few dancers to receive a callback for one of eight team spots. A tap week and initiation followed, which consisted of fun spirit days like mismatch day and talent day. On the last day of initiation, the new taps had to do several special challenges like “teaching people random dances” and “doing choreography in public places,” Daniels said. 

As a mixed-gender, multicultural group, Rhythmic Blue prides itself on its diversity, with members ranging from first years to PhD candidates and Yale University employees. 

Browne could tell that Rhythmic Blue worked to make the audition environment enjoyable, she said. People were cheering every time she completed a run-through of the choreography and offered a lot of encouragement over the audition process. She told the News that she was able to feed off this energy and channel it into her dancing, which “felt great!”

“I really enjoy the community that RB fosters,” Daniels said. “Everyone is extremely talented, open to new ideas and truly works together to uplift each other. In the high-stress environment Yale produces sometimes, Rhythmic Blue has been a safe space where I can enjoy the fruits that hip-hop has nurtured in me as well as be surrounded by such a supportive community of dancers.”

Daniels told the News about the preparation and hard work that went into producing “RB VISION,” their first show of the semester. Everyone on the team is given the opportunity to sign up to choreograph a dance for the show. After being placed into a dance based on tap year and available spaces, the group’s choreographers meet with dancers to prepare for show week. 

This semester, Daniels choreographed with other new taps, Jean-Francois, Moweta and co-president Maelle Tanoh ’25, for a dance titled “KCNM.” Additionally, every semester, Rhythmic Blue has a photoshoot promo for their new show, with this year’s theme being “high-fashion techno.” 

“I love Rhythmic Blue so much.” Moweta told the News, “They are my newfound family, and they honestly made my transition into Yale as a first year so much easier. Everyone’s personality shines not just through the choreography that they perform on stage but also in rehearsals and during group bonding times.”

But producing high-quality shows every semester is no easy feat, Daniels told the News. As the show nears tech week, Rhythmic Blue’s dancers find themselves running their show in the theater multiple times. While the experience can be stressful and tiresome, Daniels said that the “uplifting and upbeat” atmosphere makes it “worthwhile and enjoyable.” 

VISION was Daniels’s, Browne’s and Moweta’s first official show, with Daniels noting that it was “an unforgettable experience.”

All four shows were sold out before the first show began.

“After meeting the people who got in with me, I immediately knew that I was excited to be in RB,” Browne said. “Not only are they amazing dancers, but they’re great people with amazing energies and personalities that bring so much joy to every space. In rehearsals, in general, there is so much love in the room, and it is so amazing to see what students my age can create with and for each other.”

This Saturday, Rhythmic Blue will perform alongside other Yale and Harvard arts groups in the “HYLight: Harvard Yale Black Arts Showcase.” 

Landon Bishop covers Accessibility at Yale. He is a freshman in Benjamin Franklin College majoring in Ethics, Politics, and Economics.