After practicing 18 hours in a week and staying up till 2 a.m. to perfect formations the night before, the day of Indulgence’s spring show had arrived. The costumes, lighting, and guest performers were ready. Indulgence — even if its dancers didn’t feel like it — was ready.
The show’s theme was the movie “Mean Girls.” The team would embody the rise against the perils of cliques and bullies. But hours before the show’s start, sophomore Jerrod Obiya and junior Michaela Pratt, the captains, received an email and found themselves facing perils of their own.
“Your worst fear is something happening on the day of the show,” Obiya said later, “but the worst thing we could have expected was losing the entire venue.”
The email explained that the building had structural issues that needed to be addressed, and until they were, the venue could not be used for performances.
“The biggest challenge we faced was deciding what to do,” Obiya said.
The dancers wrestled over whether to cancel the show or change the venue. Their new location, they were told, would be determined by whatever Event and Classroom Management could set up for them. They would have to redo their formations and lighting directions to suit the new space. They would no longer have an erected stage.
Would people still come?
Indulgence decided the show would go on. The dancers would perform and trust the rest to follow.
Their new venue, Feldman Ballroom, seats a maximum of 300. Attendees filled all 300 chairs and kept coming, finding seats on the floor and standing room in the back. Sophomore and show host Andre Hodges thanked everyone. “Thank God y’all are still here, give it up for yourselves,” he said, drawing applause, cheers, and whoops. On that note, the show began.
The “Mean Girls” theme was developed through video clips showing members of different dance groups on campus, like Xclusive and Bhangra, making snarky comments about Indulgence members.
Between these videos were the dance performances, which transitioned quickly from one to the next, outfit changes and all. The chatter never fell below an excited buzz, and rose to a cacophony as needed to support the performers.
“The audience was amazing,” Obiya said. “The biggest relief was knowing people still showed out and did everything in their power to give us their love and their energy.”
Obiya also heaped praise on the show’s guest performers: Velocity (a hip-hop dance team from Rochester Institute of Technology) and evolutionX (a Rochester dance team for youths under 18). The show’s last-minute troubles inconvenienced them as well, as there was no time for them to become acquainted with the new stage’s conditions.
“They were so flexible,” Obiya said. “Everybody was like, ‘whatever we have to bend, we’ll bend.’” Both groups brought the audience to its feet, in particular one little boy — the youngest of evolutionX — who moonwalked straight into the hearts of everyone in the room.
For their part, the groups appreciated the audience’s generosity. “The audience was so supportive,” said Prince Diaby, choreographer and director of evolutionX. “As soon as we finished [the kids] were like ‘Can we do it again?’”
For the finale, Indulgence members formed a half circle where everyone could strut their stuff. Here, the team’s diversity — in both race and style — became evident.
“Everybody brings their own spin on hip-hop,” junior and Indulgence member Omolemo Matloga told the Campus Times. She choreographed a South African-style number for the group. She thinks Indulgence defies stereotypes on who likes or can dance to hip-hop. “It wasn’t a white thing, it wasn’t a black thing. We literally have every demographic in our group,” she continued. “Everybody sees themselves represented in our team.”
Indulgence fosters this type of diversity by focusing on a variety of things in the recruitment process. For them it’s not about expertise — Obiya had no dance experience when he joined Indulgence in his freshman year.
“We look for energy, willingness to learn, and people who have a passion for dance,” Obiya said. “Everybody brings something.”