Excited crowd members filled the seats in the Education Building’s Presentation Theater around 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 22, but the buzz they created was nothing compared to the energy that was about to be unleashed. The eruption came about 30 minutes later, when the VarCity SF dancers found their spots and ignited a flurry of music and movement. As Sean Paul’s “Get Busy” blared through the speakers to kick off the Homecoming Hip-Hop Dance Showcase on an upbeat note, USF’s official hip-hop dance club effortlessly eased into its rhythmic zone.
“I really try to focus on how I feel on stage,” said junior Margret Valdes, the president of VarCity SF. “I want to ultimately enjoy myself in the moment through my love of dance.”
Even though VarCity SF was founded just three years ago, the dance club has wasted no time making its presence felt at USF. Since its inception, this group of groovy student dancers have won first place at USF’s Got Talent 2012, performed at Krewella’s Don-A-Roo show, and held the annual Homecoming event for two years in a row. This year’s Homecoming Hip-Hop Dance Showcase featured not only dances from VarCity, but also appearances from other Bay Area hip-hop teams.
After VarCity started Homecoming 2014 off with “Get Busy,” their next dance was led by sophomore Chaia Ramsey, a Chicago native and new VarCity member.
Ramsey’s segment began with a dubstep-influenced piece before evolving into a smooth dance with Beyoncé and Drake’s “Mine” playing in the background.
This was followed by performances from dance teams LiveSF and Feel Projection Rascals, a youth group that performed at World of Dance Bay Area in 2013.
After a 15-minute intermission, participants from all of the dance groups formed a semi-circle and then began a freestyle session. By bringing dancers from the different groups onstage together, VarCity made clear how much they value the unifying aspects of hip-hop and dance.
“Homecoming is less about showcasing our skills and more about engaging with our community,” Valdes said.
Guest showings from Feel Projection, a Bay Area dance company, and the San Jose-based Hungry Bumz rounded out the show, as well as a VarCity piece backed by Ariana Grande’s “The Way,” and a special performance by the VarCity SF ladies.
The students in VarCity may have exuded confidence under the spotlight, but they got to that point through extensive preparation that involved forming a unique style and feel for each piece.
“The choreography is definitely a team effort,” Valdes said. “Each member of VarCity is expected to work on choreography projects throughout the year, and at the start of spring semester we hold a showing where we all vote on the pieces for our show.”
VarCity is currently transitioning from a Student Leadership and Engagement (SLE) Club to a Koret Sports Club. With this change, VarCity hoped to secure more space to practice and perform, and they have achieved that thus far.
“With SLE, it was hard to book a room suitable for dancing,” said senior Edwin Sanchez, VarCity’s artistic director. “Under Koret, we have a reserved practice space two times a week fully equipped with mirrors and a sound system, which a dance team obviously needs.”
Since 2011, VarCity has increased from five to 11 members, and has also held auditions that attracted approximately 30 student dancers. Although the club is growing and becoming more competitive, the group has remained close and has emphasized the importance of treating each other as family.
“We’re not here just to dance,” said junior Mia Macaspac, the vice president of operations for VarCity. “We’re here to spend time together and get to know each other. I think chemistry on a team is really important.”
Also, students in the group come from different dancing backgrounds, but the importance of dance in their lives is something they have in common.
“I have been dancing for over 10 years now, and I cannot imagine my life without it,” Valdes said. “I have not only met some of my best friends through dance, but dance has provided so many windows of opportunity for me. Most importantly, it has been my safe haven in expressing myself.
Sanchez, who has been dancing since he was a high school sophomore, values dance for a variety of reasons.
“Dancing keeps me in shape, it helps me meet new people, it helps me grow as a person, and has helped me see things in new perspectives,” Sanchez said.