At the youthful age, the thirst to explore and have fun is overwhelming. Personally, nothing stops me before I get the best of entertainment and relaxation after any tiresome day in the class or at the end of a semester. My love for hip-hop music and dance has caught many by surprise. I am not good at dancing, but I find immeasurable pleasure when I observe dancing queens and kings take the skillfully calculated moves on the dance flow. I hardly afford to contain myself from being carried away to the extent that I find myself subconsciously aping the dancers. My visit to the Arizona State University (ASU) was solely conditioned by the desire to have a feel of the live hip-hop dance. It is because the university has an outstanding hip-hop club that has shown excellent performance in entertainment through its dances. Hip-hop is a cultural movement whose origin is linked to the African American and Hispanic communities. My obsession with dance results from a personal perception of it as a perfectly developed complex of performing and visual arts. In my opinion, dance helps to better the core disciplines of DJing (music), MCing (poetry) and breaking (dance).
ASU’s Hip-Hop Dance
The moment I arrived at the university, I met a stout hospitable student who offered to show me to the Small Gym D at the Sun Devil Fitness Complex. It is the place where the hip-hop dancers hold their practices on a daily basis. I was interested in knowing how the university’s hip-hop coalition operates and in understanding of its management credited for the excellent organization and performance. The level of determination that the club was associated with justified the fact that the dance club had a strong vision. It was a unique experience and I had to get into the interview with one of the dancers, Kathy Magana, to know just how it all happened (for the questions of the interview see Appendix).
From the interview, I learned that the administration was less involved in the dance club’s activities. She explained, “ASU’s Hip-Hop club is a student-run organization that promotes the positive aspects of the Hip-Hop culture and dance.” As we got into the large complex, she said that it was a musical tone known to have nurtured many talents in hip-hop dancing. I asked her about the membership requirements for the club. She replied, “Our club is open to all students irrespective of culture, gender, age, sexuality, and religion.” I confirmed the statements when I got to the fitness complex where dancers were displaying their talents in pairs. Two slender dancers took the front stage of the complex as they demonstrated different dance styles to the dance crew.
At the time, I struggled to listen to the dancer as she went ahead, giving details of their hip-hop dance club. It was because of the music that was playing at that moment with the dancers changing their moves according to the tunes. As we were nearing those who were taking part in dancing, Magana explained that the institution promoted the clubs’ activities understood to facilitate the advocacy for the unity of the students’ body. Dancers of different skin colors and body physics were busy taking instructions from their trainers in a bid to perfect their skills in hip-hop dancing. There was the large number of members whom I saw in the complex, therefore, I asked about club’s activities control and coordination. Magana started explaining, “We host tryouts for the team during the fall semester and we cannot take additional members until the next year.” She went ahead to explain that the hip-hop dance club was one of the most popular clubs in the institution that attracted a large number of entrants every year. I asked her about the events in which they took part. She explained that they had actively been involved in internal competitions as well as national and international ones. “Whenever we have events within the university, we are invited to entertain guests. We also take part in national and international events”, she said. In response to my question about the sources of finance for the club, Magana stated, “To run its activities, the club charges some little membership and training fee at the beginning of every semester”. Magana made it clear that the club offered free training opportunities at the onset of every semester to give interested students a chance to have a feel of hip-hop dancing before they make choices of their preferred clubs.
I realized that the ASU’s Sun Devil Fitness Complex was so spacious. It had different sections that were fitted with particular equipment meant for a specific use. As she took me round, Magana responded to my concern over a variety of equipment that was available in different sections of the complex. She told me that the complex offered a wide range of high-quality convenient services for students as well as members of staff and faculty. She explained, “This complex is a vital asset of the institution that caters to people’s need for relaxation and leisure.” Then she continued, “The services offered here range from massage therapy, locker rentals, Bike Co-op and many more.” She stated that the programs in the ASU’s Sun Devil Fitness were created to fit everyone’s fitness needs as every program was designed with the Sun Devils in mind. On the kinds of trainings one could choose, she stated, “We have cardiovascular workouts, stress-reducing yoga, and strength training.” When I asked her about students balancing their academic program with the extracurricular activities, the dancer responded by stating that the facility helped promote healthy minds and active bodies besides upholding unity among students. She mentioned that the facility plays a significant role in the student’s success. As we moved back to the hip-hop training section, Magana stated, “After a tight academic schedule, we rush to this complex for our hip-hop dance practices as other students also join their clubs. It helps us to remain focused because we have no time to think about other detrimental activities.”
Magana informed me that the dance club, as other clubs in the institution, was registered with the student’s organization resource center, the Sun Devil Fitness. In other words, it was part of the Sun Devil’s sports clubs. To my surprise, she said, “You have only seen a section of dancers here. The dancing crew is made up of about 400 members from full and part time Arizona State University students on any of our campuses who have registered and settled their sports club fee.”
Magana insisted that I join the dancers on the dance floor so that she could show me some dance styles. I was hesitant to accept the offer owing to the frustration that I anticipated. I only enjoyed the music as I witnessed well-practiced dance styles demonstrated by the dancers. It was not an easy task to take the bold step of joining the unfamiliar dance crew since I knew that they would be keen to see me dance. When Magana had realized that I was reluctant to join the crew, she insisted, “Come along… Let us dance with you.” It took me close to ten minutes pleading with her to excuse me while claiming that I had some stomach upset that would cause me discomfort if I dared dance.
I also asked Magana if it was acceptable for me to record dances before leaving the fitness complex. She answered, “You are free to take as many clips as you wish. You can even practice the dance styles on your own so that the next time you visit you can comfortably join the crew and perfect your skills.” I took out my camera from the small bag and removed my still and motion photographs to document the fabulous moment I had with Magana and the hip-hop dance crew in the fitness complex.
The Interview. Questions
1. How is the Hip-Hop dance at Arizona State University managed?
2. What are the membership requirements for the hip-hop dance crew?
3. In which competitions do you take part and where are the events held?
4. How does the hip -op dance club manage to control and coordinate its activities despite the large number of members?
5. How does your club raise finances required to facilitate its activities?
6. How are the hip-hop dancers managing to balance between academics and dancing as an extracurricular activity?