In the wake of its Thriller flash mob Friday at the Memorial Art Gallery’s Museum of the Dead: Alive Again social, the Indulgence Dance Crew brought the spirit of Halloween to campus Saturday by hosting a Thriller dance workshop.
Students learned the moves to the dance of Michael Jackson’s iconic song, considered the best-selling album of all time in the U.S. by the Recording Industry Association of America.
After a series of brief warmups, Indulgence member and freshman Jerrod O’Baya and sophomore Jordan Leonard taught attendees how to move and groove like the zombies in Jackson’s music video. By the end of the two-hour workshop, those present were dancing it out undead-style, at the end taking a new, creative twist to the traditional dance from the music video.
“We’re trying to be more open and invite people on-campus and off-campus” Indulgence advisor and UR sophomore Elana Antoine said. “Part of that involves the workshops and having high school students come into our practices and learn the dances with us and get inspired.”
The workshop was not simply a learning experience; Indulgence plans on another Thriller flash mob in the coming days, this time involving workshop participants in addition to members of the dance crew.
Indulgence was founded in 2001 as part of the Black Students’ Union (BSU) to represent the interests of involved students. Members choreograph their own hip-hop and hip-hop fusion dances and perform throughout the semester.
While doing its own choreography is a critical part to the success of Indulgence, it has also let to past disagreements between members on what choreography should be included.
“Since we are so diverse and we have diverse dance moves, sometimes a lot of people don’t feel comfortable doing certain dances,” Indulgence co-captain and junior Kavon Holley said. “A lot of people on the team don’t always feel comfortable doing certain choreo. Some people would bring forward choreo and other people wouldn’t want to do it.”
Holley noted, however, that due to the wide diversity of the group, experimentation with new moves and techniques was common.
“It’s our diversity, not just our ethnicity, but also our dance styles,” Indulgence adviser and sophomore Elana Antoine said. “All our dance styles are unique and you can see that in our performances, in our choreos. We can learn from each other and grow.”
While Indulgence does not currently participate in any competitions, it strives to be active on campus. This year, it plans to hold another workshop during the spring semester.
In the past, Indulgence has held an annual spring show, which it plans to continue holding. Last February, it also sold dance-o-grams for Valentine’s Day.
Indulgence also performs at the BSU Stepshow, a competition where “hardcore” teams from the Rochester area compete in their stepdance routines. The show is a clear favorite of the Indulgence leadership.
“We love seeing them perform,” Holley said, “And they love seeing us perform.”
While its primary focus is on performances at UR, Indulgence has taken its groove to a variety of off-campus locations. In 2014, the group participated in a flash mob marriage proposal at Eastview Mall with the YouTube’s Breaking Normal Productions, bringing its own original choreography to a special day. The video of the occasion has over 250,000 views on YouTube.
Additionally, Indulgence recently held a practice with youth from the Teen Health and Success Partnership to help bring a little bit of the UR to local youth. On Oct. 1, Indulgence performed at the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Stand Strong and United event.
Looking to the future, Indulgence plans to expand its on and off-campus presence by getting both UR students and youth from the Rochester community coming together through dance.
“I definitely think first of all that we are the best at what we’re doing on campus,” co-captain and senior Jie Deng said. “[We are] the best at promoting hip-hop culture. What we are trying to be involved with, community service, by working with the Boys and Girls Club, [brings] people not officially on the team together.”