By Dana Foley:
For the last 17 years, dance and step teams from all around Massachusetts have come to Assumption College to participate in the annual Step and Dance Competition. Each spring, the teams compete in the Laska Gymnasium where the top three from each category (the step team category and the dance team category) are selected. The Assumption ALANA (African, Latino/Hispanic, Asian, Native-American) Network hosts this event, one of the biggest on campus, serving food, giving away raffles, involving the audience in dance competitions and having Assumption clubs perform during the intermissions. Hound Sound performed a song, then the Latin and African Dance clubs perform.
On Sunday, March 31st, Assumption hosted the 17th annual Step and Dance Competition where their own culture teams performed.
First to perform was the Latin Dance team, founded in 2011. Co-captains Brianna Caputo and Jamielya Shaw gathered in the art hall outside of the gym to prepare the team and finalize their dance. Caputo, a senior of Italian and Irish descent, explained why she wanted to join the team.
“I have a lot of Dominican and Puerto Rican friends who always made fun of me because I didn’t know how to dance, so now they can’t say anything.”
Originally just a member of the club, Caputo learned about and fell in love with the culture and eventually became a captain.
They made their way to the gym’s entrance, and in a single line, each with one hand on their hip, they took the stage. The silence in the room was broken with their salsa dance to “Brujeria”, followed by a bachata to Aventura’s “El Malo” and finished with a merengue to “Se Encendio el Beeper” as they threw their club’s shirts to the crowd. The audience was singing along, even dancing along with them.
The first intermission ended and the competitions continued, so now the African Dance Club prepared in the art hall after the slight hiccup of being locked out. Once the team was able to get to where they’d stored all their belongings for the dance, they quickly touched up their make-up and practiced with one another.
The club was founded in 2016 by Amara Ugwumba, also the current president.
“I love dancing and I especially love how diverse African dance is. It draws moves from a whole continent! I wanted to create a place where I felt comfortable, dance and have a good time with great people. So, I thought, why not make one?”
Though she’s performed the last two years, she decided not to this year, instead she watched the team she’s been training for the past seven months. The members lined up and waited for their introduction before walking in front of the packed gymnasium. They first danced to the Afro B’s song “Melanin” and then brought in a Caribbean dance to “Time Travel” by Damian Marley, finishing with two songs that vocalized and energized the audience: “Eggplant Afrobeat” and “Iskaba.”
After both the dances, the members trotted off stage and into the lobby, smiling ear to ear. When asked what they’ll do now that their biggest and last performance is over, the responses were “start practicing for next year.”