By ANEEKA RATNAYAKE
For The News-Letter
SLAM, the Hopkins hip-hop dance group, hosted a showcase benefiting the Baltimore Dance Crews Project (BDCP) on Friday, Nov. 13. The showcase, which had the theme “love and acceptance for all,” incorporated performances from different groups on campus and from the local community.
Hopkins alumni Brian Gerardo and Cynthia Chavez founded BDCP with the goal of using hip-hop dance to connect, engage and empower youth. The two schoolteachers sought to strengthen their relationships with their students, and they found that hip-hop was a powerful medium through to do this through.
This goal eventually led to the formation of an after-school club, which has now become two youth teams, as well as a monthly workshop across different schools. When they spoke during the showcase, Gerardo and Chavez stressed the importance of creating programs for youth in Maryland given that over 200,000 students do not have access to after-school programming.
However they also celebrated their success in reaching over 2,000 students between June and October with these dance workshops.
When BDCP first began five years ago, SLAM decided to make their showcase a benefit for the organization. In the past year, SLAM has also begun teaching dance lessons to students across Baltimore alongside Gerardo and Chavez.
SLAM’s publicity chair Max Yeo expressed the group’s desire to serve the Baltimore area.
“It’s a nice way to complement President’s Day of Service or, in this year’s case, still do service despite inclement weather,” he said. “Our mission last night was to help BDCP as much as possible as they transition to serving a larger community.”
One of the ways in which was the showcase sought to benefit the local community was by featuring a variety of dance groups. This included groups from Hopkins like the Hopkins Breakers and JHU Eclectics as well as groups from the greater Baltimore area like DyNaMic, The Dance institute of Washington, The Set Phunktions, Funk Justice, Kickrocks Crew, Major Def, Coverboy, Urbanknowlogy and Culture Shock DC.
The night also featured three crews from BDCP including the BDCP collective, the BDCP junior varsity team and the BDCP seniors. Together these groups put together an amazing show, encompassing different elements of the theme through their song choices and choreography. Every element of their performances, down to the facial expressions of the dancers, was perfectly coordinated and executed.
One of the highlights of the night was the two performances by both the BDCP junior varsity team and the BDCP seniors which occurred toward the end of the show. This performance, the largest one so far for the junior varsity team, had the entire crowd of both Hopkins students and other members of the local community cheering loudly.
Polly Ma, president of SLAM, was also enthusiastic about the results of the night’s performances.
“The show went very smoothly and the support from Hopkins students and the performers was amazing. I had a great time dancing and watching the other groups, and it was worth every second we spent planning the show,” she wrote in an email to The News-Letter.
The show closed with a performance by SLAM that, in light of the national anti-discrimination protests at college campuses, was dedicated to all those who have the courage to be different and those who are strong enough to stand with them. The moving performance also included a moment of silence for the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.
Overall the showcase combined creative, powerful dance with a strong message in support of the local and global community.