Laughter Emmanuel: Nowhere But Up

Participating in Trxbe, and being in the Suffolk University performing arts community in general, has given me the amazing opportunity to meet people who are just utterly and completely in love with, and passionate about their art. Laughter Emmanuel (yes her name is Laughter), is without a doubt one of them. Standing at 5’9, the laid-back Nigerian baddie, sports a unique style, and has a way of moving that one can only chalk up to one word: astounding. The 18 year old started out dancing with her siblings in a dance group in her church, and has since, two-stepped, trotted, and rocked her way across dance genres like jazz, African, Hip hop, and step.

I had the privilege of dancing with Laughter, during her time with Trxbe, and learned through her instagram (which you all should go follow: @asap.laughter21), that she’d been performing throughout the community. I quickly contacted her, to see if I could schedule in some time to chat with her about the projects she’d been working on, she of course, enthusiastically invited me to come watch them all perform.

I hopped on the T (or what people outside of Boston refer to as the ‘subway’), and headed to the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (‘MassArt’ for short). Laughter and her older sister Emmanuella Emmanuel, had pulled together a team of dancers to display some Afro fusion dance, at the 10th annual Colleges of the Fenway Dance Project’s showcase. Shortly after I got off the train, I spotted a girl dressed in a dashiki, and quickly caught her attention, knowing she had to be apart of the team, having seen Laughter and a few members sporting the traditional West African gear. She was apart of the team of course, and led me to where Laughter and the other members of the team were. After conversing with Laughter for a little bit, she led me to the theater where I was blown away by several groups that performed, including tap groups that sported blush pink blouses (and later polka dots), a hip hop group that got crunk to Missy Elliot’s new single Pep Rally, a liturgical group whose formations were nothing short of breathtaking, and a cultural African dance group that jigged energetically to a live drum. Emmanuella, who is a senior, had actually been in six of the dances performed that night.

“I’ve always wanted to choreograph a piece but I never had the time, and then my sister who is on the step team was like yo! We could do this together!” squealed Emmanuella. And let me tell you, they did more than just “do” it, they killed it, slayed it, etc. etc.

This obviously being a new venture, I wanted to chat with the people who were willing to go along for the ride with the sisters.

“Well, I think that it’s something really different, and something that you don’t really see in dance recitals you know? It’s usually the traditional Hip Hop, ballet, jazz, tap, and when I heard that there was going to be afro fusion so that’s why I got into it” said Jasmine Benitez a junior, who had been in four dances that night.
For Tanya Rivera, a senior she was just excited to join in and participate, “Not only did my friend Emmanuella choreograph it, but I love African dance!”

“Just keep trying! Like just keep dancing! My goal in life is to be dancer…Dancing is my plan A, B, C, you know what I’m saying…just don’t give up!” said Laughter, and in that moment, I realized why Laughter is one of the people I label as one who is utterly and completely in love with, and passionate about their art.

Please guys keep up with her, you’ll see her somewhere someday. I have no doubt in my mind:

Once again, check out her Instagram page, she’s started posting dance videos!

@asap.laughter21
@asap.laughter21
@asap.laughter21

watch the video of their performance here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P28BWcpVef8

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We All Belong To a TRXBE

Of all of the words that end up in these blog entries, “Trxbe” is probably one that you all see the most. Trxbe is (as I’ve mentioned in my other posts…and if you haven’t seen those you should go check them out) Suffolk University’s African Hip Hop dance team. Usually Trxbe is introduced as the newest addition to Suffolk’s performing arts groups…because, well, it is. The team was pulled together during the spring semester of 2014, by Bethany Osamede Ogbeifun—Osa for short— a junior from Nigeria, West Africa enrolled in Suffolk University’s Sawyer Business School. Ogbeifun, says that she was in search of a dance team that she could call home, but none of them were really a perfect fit.

“I created the team because I couldn’t abandon this whole part of my life, just because I’m away at college.” So off Trxbe went, performing at various Suffolk University events, where someone never failed to either pronounce the team’s name wrong, or get Trxbe confused with another team. I remember joining, having felt the way Ogbeifun did, but unsure of how I’d do at auditions because I’d maybe done an African dance once when I was 11, but still was unsure of what African Hip Hop looked like. I asked a friend that I had made at orientation for some advice and she instructed me to search “azonto”. I learned what I could from the videos, but still felt that I looked like I had two left feet. I remember getting to the audition, seeing the team do the azonto once, and thinking to myself that I was screwed. I did the best I could with the choreography, and then freestyled to what I knew how to do best. Dancehall. Turned out it worked. That Monday, I nervously approached the white piece of paper that read: “TRXBE African Hip-Hop Dance Team 2015-2016” and let out an earsplitting shriek when I read my name somewhere towards the bottom of the list.

On April 3, 2016, Trxbe performed their very first off campus gig, at University of Massachusetts Boston’s African Night. The weeks leading up to it were quite laid back, but as soon as the week of the performance came, it was evident that crunch time was upon us, and we practiced every night until 10:00 pm. I even had the privilege of choreographing one of the pieces. Decked in the costume made sweatshirts we had ordered that week however, we completely slayed. Dancing to a mix that started with Panda by Desiigner we brought the heat, and kept the energy going up until the very end, when we concluded the performance with Wande Coal’s Baby Hello.

I came to Suffolk University, hoping to find that one club or group that i could be passionate about participating in, and found a home with Trxbe. In spite of the ups and downs the team experienced throughout this year, I can honestly say that the opportunity to dance was worth it all.

Suffolk University’s W!cked presents: “Boston’s Best Dance Crew”

So Suffolk University’s一I know, I know, you guys are probably like: “We get it! Suffolk’s dance community’s super alive”一But what can I say? This place has been down with dance fever for weeks now, and I’ve caught up with it! So as I was saying, Suffolk University’s longest running and (let’s be real here), most popular dance group, W!cked hip-hop dance crew, created their own Bostoninan-esque take on a popular tv dance show. This time last year, “Boston’s Best Dance Crew” (based off of the popular MTV competitive dance television series America’s Best Dance Crew) was born, and just a few weeks ago, the competition proved to have already gotten bigger and better. Last year, members of the team had split up and assembled themselves into small crews and competed against each other. This year, the program was riddled with exhibition teams and teams from local schools and colleges like Massachusetts’s Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) and Northeastern University.

On March 4, one of my teammates and I rushed across Suffolk University’s spread out campus after one of our Trxbe performances. It was already 7:15, and we had bought tickets for the show, which had started at 7:00. We quickly and quietly shuffled into a hot, dark, and incredibly crowded C. Walsh theater, seating ourselves in the tiny front seats of the auditorium’s balcony. One of the competing crews had just performed their final steps when we walked in, and shortly after the evening’s hosts W!cked alumni and last year’s captains, Teonna Anderson and Emyline Lumasag enthusiastically pranced onto the black wooden stage, in their W!cked jerseys from the previous year. The two hosts kept the crowd amped up the entire evening, never once missing an opportunity for jokes, freestyle dance moves, or crowd participation. Current members of W!cked took to the stage in in between acts, to parade some of their newest choreography, as well as some of their fresh new W!cked merch.

The teams were hands down some of the most amazing hip-hop teams I had ever witnessed in person. I have to admit though, my personal favorite of the evening were indeed the dancers who leapt for joy with the huge first place check in their hands, screaming “Mocha! Mocha! Mocha! Moooves!” That’s right, the Mocha Moves hip-hop team hailing from M.I.T. was the crew to win it all. I might have snapchatted almost every single sixteen-count of their performance, and whoever watched those snaps could definetly tell that my heart was doing somersaults in my throat while I was watching these dancers, probably because screamed “MY HEART” in every single one of those snaps. Believe me, the experience…Gave. Me. Life.

Suffolk University’s: “Dancing with the Stahs!”

In my previous post (one you should definitely check out if you haven’t yet!), I wrote about Suffolk University and its placing emphasis on dance’s ability to promote diversity. Turns out the University has (since last year) been placing emphasis on dance’s ability to not only bring awareness to serious issues plaguing our community, but on dance’s ability to lend a helping hand to organizations that are dedicated to reducing these issues. On March 3, dozens of people gathered in Suffolk’s C. Walsh Theater for “Dancing with the Stahs,” a competitive yet friendly Bostonian parody of the popular Dancing with the Stars television series. Pairs made up of staff members, grad, and undergrad students (one consisting of longtime lovers who performed a tear jerking waltz to Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud), bounced and jived to selections ranging from hip-hop, to pop, to Traditional Swiss Folklore; these contestants competed for a fraction of the cash raised at the event to be donated to a non-profit organization of their choice. A few organizations chosen were the American Diabetes Association, the Make a Wish Foundation, and Boston’s Children Hospital.
When I asked Competitor Phyliss St-Hubert, a Suffolk University Senior majoring in Government and minoring in Black Studies, what encouraged her to participate she responded: “I think it’s a great way for students to build a non professional relationship with staff members. Also the money raised goes to charity so why not do it for a great cause?”
The program proved to be true to its name, following a very Dancing with the Stars-esque approach, with there being behind the scenes video footage of each pair struggling to get their moves right during rehearsal. Much to the student body’s surprise, Suffolk University’s president, President Margaret A. Mackenna (who teamed up with Sean Walsh, Suffolk’s student Body President), sashayed onto the stage in a black moto jacket to show everyone how it’s done! There were several other appearances, including a large yellow chick, and a Taylor Swift impersonator who was so amped into the routine that he ripped his leather pants. The winners were decided via text message, when audience members were encouraged to send in the number that correlated with their favorite pair.
Several of Suffolk’s other performing arts groups also showed up and showed out, including: Suffolk University’s Step Team, Pasión Latina (Suffolk’s only Latin performing arts dance group), and Trxbe Suffolk’s African Hip Hop dance team.