By Nerissa Loe (17A13A), Tapasya Singh (17S03C), Sabariesh Ilankathir (17A13A), and Lakshminarayanan Kaushik Rangaraj (17S06P)
Photos by Christabelle Farand Effendy (18S06M) and Ang Jo Li Jolie (18S06R) of Raffles Photographic Society
Street Dance: the first image that comes to mind is that of casually-dressed dancers performing energetic hip-hop moves and incredible stunts. However, it is so much more than just one genre. On the 20th and 21st of April, Raffles Street Dance showcased five different genres of dance through Ombré — consisting of Urban, Hip Hop, Street Jazz, Girls Hip Hop and Contemporary — in a thrilling twenty-minute long performance. Most astoundingly, four of these were even choreographed by members of the CCA.
Having been heavily advertised through both an instagram account and a video, both days of the showcase drew large crowds – eager with anticipation for something spectacular. And as expected, Raffles Street Dance most certainly delivered.
The night started out with the fast, energetic Urban dance, choreographed by Yeo Jun Wei (17S03B). With its exploratory and futuristic style, it certainly drew some of the loudest cheers. At first glance, the routine seemed both fluid and almost effortless. This should not, however, fool us. It was not, by any means, an easy number to put up – a sentiment reflected clearly by the choreographer, Jun Wei.
Having been given the responsibility and the honour of having to choreograph such a huge piece, Jun Wei definitely felt the pressure quite early on. He found communication to be a huge obstacle in his experience as a choreographer. With “his dance vocabulary being tested to the limits”, Jun Wei struggled to convey the nuances of his vision to the dancers. However, he managed to overcome the creative blocks to come up with a piece that was not only meaningful for the dancers, but also for the audience. Talking to Jun Wei and the rest of the choreographers definitely illuminated one undeniable truth: that we were dealing with a genuinely passionate group of artists.
Within seconds of the Urban Dance ending, the dancers for the second item — a Hip Hop performance by Elycia Lee (17S03A) — hit the stage. With faster and more aggressive dance moves that was a significant change with the previous dance, Hip Hop certainly left the audience gaping with the intensity of their movements. As avid Street Dance enthusiast Alvin Pang (17S06P) said, “it was really refreshing to see the vibes, energy, and accents of the [Hip Hop] genre being translated physically with such sophistication”.
The third item of the night was a Street Jazz piece by Quek Ching Yee (17S03G). Choreographed to the sounds of “Brokenhearted” by Karmin, the dance took on a sassy and confident style. This slower, sweeter piece served as a nice contrast to the faster-paced and more technical Urban and Hip Hop.
Though executed brilliantly, this piece was not choreographed without challenges either. With little experience, first-time choreographer Ching Yee felt much “pressure, since [she] was choreographing for 10 other dancers besides [herself]”. However, seeing her dance come to life during the showcase really gave her “a huge sense of fulfillment”. After all, this was the culmination of hard work that her fellow dancers had put into their performance. This dance served as the perfect mid-way mark as Ching Yee ended the dance blowing a kiss to the audience.
Next, the Girls Hiphop piece by their instructor Ms Rachel Chang snatched the stage. Sexy and fierce, the Street girls were swift and executed their routine smoothly, mixing brutality with grace. Their scintillating dance moves were particularly catchy and it was evident from the perfection of their execution that much practice had gone into making this dance a true success.
Following the Girls Hip Hop dance, a slower contemporary piece gave the audience a chance to truly appreciate the technicalities of the dance. Even when performing a genre not typically associated with street dance, the dancers successfully kept the audience encaptured with their grace and energy. The clean lines and neat finishes highlighted the dancers’ technical prowess, and the choreography was complemented perfectly by the choice of simple costumes and music.
In a promotional interview for the showcase, choreographer Tanya Lau (17S03L) said that the inexperience of teaching, coupled with the difficulty of coming up with choreography and formations were challenges that she had to overcome. However she still hoped that her dancers would be able to express themselves through the contemporary genre. Needless to say, this dance was the most emotional, and was another highlight of the night.
Although high expectations had been set for the showcase, the street dancers more than met them with their superb effort. Their amazingly quick transitions between each dance was applaudable and helped to maintain the high tempo of the short and sweet performance. The lightning-quick twenty-minute power packed performance left the audience begging for more when the dancers took the stage the last time with their finale dance by Ms Steffanie Leong. Clad in tie-dyed shirts, the dancers ended the night with a colorful bang. Indeed, each performance left the audience awestruck. The dancers had put their heart and soul into Ombré, and their hard work paid off in this vibrant performance.