So you think you can dance?

One January evening in Mandel Hall, students pulled off their coats as they settled in to watch performances from Rhythmic Bodies in Motion, the campus's largest dance RSO. Part of the second annual Winter Arts Festival—sponsored by student literary mag Sliced Bread—RBIM members presented two back-to-back routines. The first, “Broken,” was a lyrical piece choreographed by Cassandra Harrison, AB’09. Think ballet sans pointe shoes. Nine barefoot performers donned black button-down shirts and matching shorts. Gliding onstage to Sia’s ethereal ballad “Breathe Me,” their eyes peering into the distance, they spun on relevé, floated through split leaps, eased through cat-like floor movements, and slipped offstage as the music faded. Seven new performers immediately took the spotlight, striking a hands-on-hips pose before launching into "Get Right," an energetic hip-hop number complete with stomping feet, undulating hips, and staccato break-dancing moves. The routine was choreographed by third-year Barbra Kim and second-year Kevin Lee.

A study in contrast, the two routines reflect RBIM’s commitment to practicing and performing different dance techniques. Founded in 2003, the group also promotes what they call “diversity in dance skill.” Any undergraduate or graduate student who wants to bust a move can do so; evaluative auditions are held in the fall, but no cuts are made. The company has a whopping 208 members, all of whom will perform in RBIM’s annual on-campus spring show in May. “We had 94 company members in last year’s show,” says third-year Nadja Otikor. “The audience must have enjoyed it, because this fall we had double the number of people auditioning.”

The 2010 show will feature approximately 15 student-choreographed performances, each representing a different dance style: lyrical, street jazz, belly dance/hip-hop fusion, flamenco, tap, Jamaican dancehall, African, Irish, and more. Fourth-year Katie Bailey, choreographer of the Irish piece, encourages all students, faculty, and staff to check it out, even if you're not an avowed dance aficionado: “All of our members put in a lot of effort and share their excitement with the crowd. And each year, the audience feeds off that excitement.”

Count us in.

Katherine E. Muhlenkamp

February 15, 2010