Trxbe takes University of Massachusetts Boston (Again!)

This past Thursday, Trxbe ended the school year with a bang. I talked a little bit about our last performance in front of the Suffolk University student body and faculty (yes it’s the one in which I made a complete fool of myself, but it’s okay because I promise that I’m somewhat, sort of over it), our very last performance ever was at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Now, for those of you who have been keeping up (and if you haven’t been go check out other posts), Trxbe’s first performance infront of an off campus crowd, was just last month at the University of Massachusetts Boston, for the African Student Association. During our last practice of the year, our team leader announced to us that we were being invited back, to perform at an event that was being hosted by the Cape Verdean Student Association. Unfortunately, two of our members had to pass, because they had other engagements. Now, we’re currently a team of six people, meaning that only four of us would be bringing the energy and hype, to what after just the second piece feels like an hour long routine. All I could think to myslef, was “lord, help us all.”

When we all got to UMB, it was discernible that all of us were drained, and probable that the four of us weren’t going to be able to deliver as much energy as we had hoped. We had to adjust several spots in our routines, because the others were missing, and we were a bit apprehensive because of it. Warning: I’m going to throw in a first world problem here. I had actually attempted to shave before the event, accidentally drove my razor into my skin, so I had my own little issues going on. We were there because we promised to be there, but we were all just not in the mood. For that three hours before the show, we experienced something that all performers and artists deal with at least 50% of the time. Apathy. We were being lazy, and we didn’t care. But when I tell you that the “5-minutes-’till-showtime” rush is the only cure, believe me, it’s the only cure. When we got out on that stage, we nailed every move, we were in sync, and we most definitely brought the energy, from the beginning to end when we hopped off stage.

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Take Five: A Reflection

Last Thursday, exhausted and drowning final assignments, I lay in bed and rolled over unto my stomach, only to face a text message that read: “You know pictures are at 6:00 right?” It was our Trxbe secretary, and the pictures she was referring to were the pictures that the Suffolk Performing Arts Office (PAO) takes of its performing arts groups before each performing arts show at the end of each semester. It was 6:04, and I knew better to answer back with a snappy “no, I didn’t know..” because clearly the question was rhetorical. So I rolled out of bed, irritated, and quickly scrambled for my cropped team sweatshirt, and had to settle for a pair of crappy leggings, that I knew would leave my entire mid-section exposed for the entire duration of the dance, because they never stayed up. I ran to the school theater (boy, I sure do a lot of running to places in these blogs), where I had been told that I missed the team picture, but that we could take another. I hadn’t practiced since that Sunday at the dance studio with the team, and I had a gut feeling that told me that I was going mess up in some way, shape, or form, because of it. Well, very rarely does my gut lie to me honestly.

It all started when our music began while the crowd was still cheering, preventing us from hitting our introduction, and forcing us to have to start the track again after the song had been going for at least 45 seconds. Then, my nerves began to take control, drove me right out of our six person triangular formation about 15 seconds too early. After that, my mess ups kept coming, one after the other, after the other. After we danced off stage and headed up to the balcony, grabbed my stuff and left. We were the second act.

I remember my Literary Citizenship class having a conversation about how toxic it can be to be a perfectionist and an artist at the same time. I feel that this was one of those scenarios in which toxicity is evident. In my mind, I had humiliated my whole team, and might as well have been tossed off of the edge of the earth at that point. The performance ended up on facebook, and not too long after, Youtube. It took several phone calls from my mother before I actually began believing that dance didn’t end here for me. Point is, as a dancer, as an actor, a singer, a musician, anything…recognizing the importance of making mistakes will probably be what causes you to prosper in the long run.

Another Suffolk University Dance Event: Kizomba Workshop

       

I had heard that it was Caribbean week here at Suffolk, and the April 20th event just happened be a ‘zouk’ workshop. I sprinted to Donahue, right after my 4:00 – 5:15 class. I was technically late, but I know Caribbean folk (because I am one), and there are only a handful of them that are actually on time (I’m typically not one). When I got to the place where the event was originally supposed to be, I saw a different group, and all I could really think was that either one of two things had happened: Either the event had been moved, or I’ve been wrong about Caribbean folk all of my life, I was the only one who was always late to things that I probably shouldn’t be late to, and the workshop had already ended. I decided to head to the fourth floor, the only other place that I could think of that the workshop could possibly be at.

Luckily, when I got there I saw a dj setting up some equipment in the corner of the room, and three unfamiliar faces. I quickly inquired if this was where the dance workshop would be, just to be on the safe side, and was told that it was. I approached one of the unfamiliar faces, a professional looking woman wearing black dance heels, and asked the only question that was on my brain at the moment: “what is zouk?” to which she quickly answered that there had been a mistake, and that today we would actually be learning kizomba. I of course, had heard of kizomba, but I didn’t exactly know what it was either, which was perfect. She pointed me in the direction of the actual overseer of the program, who was a man that looked like he was in either his very late twenties or mid thirties. So I did as I was told, and asked a few questions about what kizomba was all about. Evens Joseph, owner of Ej dance studios, greeted me with a handshake and a charming smile. “Kizomba is a dance from Angola” Joseph said, “it’s a beautiful dance, it’s pretty easy, and smooth and sexy.”

When we got into the dancing, I understood exactly what he had been saying. We ultimately learned a series of foot and hip movements, and when we were paired up with our partners, we were repeatedly told that we needed to be closer to them. When we finally got the steps down, it actually turned out to not be as difficult as I thought it would be. At the end, we were all rewarded with $70.00 worth of lessons at Ej dance studios!

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

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.

Suffolk University: Dance Workshop Galore

For the past couple of weeks, Suffolk University’s Diversity Service offices have been acknowledging the important role that the diverse dance groups on campus, play in unifying the diverse student body. As a part of the University’s Black Student Union’s month-long Black History Month celebration, an African dance workshop was held on February 24. The hour and a half workshop was taught by Suffolk University student, Congo native, and Up-and-coming choreographer Havel Krishna Kombo (‘HK’ for short). Participants laughed nervously after watching Kombo aggressively twist, swiftly sway his way through the first few steps of the routine. I laughed and shook my head, remembering how Kombo’s choreography had the same effect on my “Trxbe” teammates and I when he first began choreographing our routines.

Sure enough, after several attempts the group started to get the hang of it. Having only known Kombo for several weeks, and having only seen him during Trxbe rehearsals, I’d never really heard him say much more than “let’s try it” or “1-2-3-4.” After the session ended, I walked up to Kombo, using my usual “Hi, I’m writing a blog about dance” approach to squeeze a few words out of him. When asked how and when he started dancing, he answered just as I’d expected him to (Kombo’s movements are an indication that he’d been doing this for a long time): “I can’t really tell you how I started to dance because I’ve always loved dancing, ever since my childhood.” Kombo later tells me that friend of his is to thank for getting him started with choreography, and that he has all of his friends to thank for their support: “Every time I have a show, they’re always there to support me.”

The following week was appropriately dubbed “Unity Week.” Trxbe African Hip-hop dance group kicked off the festivities with their own workshop on Monday, February 29. The team actually promoted the event a week prior, when they conducted a flash mob in the middle of Suffolk University’s Somerset Cafe. Staff members dropped by the workshop to show some support as a few members of Suffolk University’s “Pasion Latina” dance group dropped by to try their hand (or should I say their feet, haha) at some African Hip-hop. Pasion Latina conducted a dance workshop the following day, an event hosted by Suffolk’s Caribbean Student Network. A cultural fair (which featured performances by the Suffolk University Step Team as well as Pasion latina) fell somewhere in between.