The Beauty of Dance: A New Frontier

By Shivani Patel, Staff Writer
@shizupates

Personally, I think the cold weather is tolerable, but once wind is added to that mix there is no way you can force me to leave Warren Towers. What better way to pass the time then to watch mind-blowing dance videos online?

That was a trick question, there is no better way.

Today, I’m happy to introduce you to Academy of Villains, a competitive hip-hop dance group based in San Francisco, Calif. Under the leadership of Christopher Pharside Jennings and Krystal Meraz, they came together in 2009 and have placed in every competition entered since. Two years ago, they won the title of USA Champions at Hip Hop.

Recently, they placed first at Vibe XIX 2014. Take a look at their performance:

I could go on and on about this performance, but I think the dancing speaks for itself. Instead, I’ll highlight four parts of this piece that blew me away.

A key element that is not as well understood is lighting. At 0:48, the dancers were in a circle formation with others surrounding it from the back. I like the subtle chain reaction effect they had, where as soon as the circle completed a move, the rest of the dancers came alive and joined in. Lighting here is key because it gave off an eerie and mysterious feeling, which only adds another layer to the dancing.

Clearly, the dancers’ faces aren’t meant to be visible, so the viewer’s attention is focused on the actual moves.

What gives these moves an extra edge is the formations. By the placement of the dancers, the moves instantly looked ten times bigger than they would otherwise. A phenomenal example of this is the clump on the right at 3:17. As a collective, the group looked intimidating. Once a dancer is flipped in the air (right on beat), all attention shifted to the group. They then began to pulsate for a few beats, which in itself isn’t a very intricate move but when done to that scale, it becomes powerful.

Another way to reel the audience in is through the use of props. The Villains made their dancers into marionettes at 2:14. A string was attached from their shoes to their hands. While the strings should be restrictive in theory, the dancers used it to their advantage. In addition to creating various shapes with the string, they demonstrated immense control over their bodies giving the appearance of – you guessed it – a marionette.

I like to refer my favorite segment as the shadow segment at 5:25. Saving the best for last, this is honestly one of the more creative pieces I’ve seen in a long time, and if you weren’t convinced that they deserved to win first place, this should definitely lead you to that conclusion. They propped up a screen and flashed a light behind it so that the audience could see the dancers silhouette. From there, they danced to a popular throwback song, “Bring Me To Life” by Evanescence. The illusions they were able to create left me speechless.

Over the years, with new technology and innovation, dance has really taken on a whole new meaning with the addition of props, lighting, and formations to name a few.

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