The air was electric with anticipation for the fifth annual Hyper Xpressions showcase “Body Language” Thursday at the Cooler. The theme for this year was “fearless” because it has been a growing year for Hyper Xpressions, according to Executive Director Noellie Nemeto.
“I feel like it was very relatable to dance and very much what dancing is. It’s basically, we’re expressing with our bodies and telling different stories with them. It’s perfect,” Nemeto said.
Emcees Dakota Chisholm (senior) and Dana Rust (senior), former Hyper Xpressions members, hosted the annual showcase for the Occidental community. They asked the audience trivia questions on the dance company and interviewed the dancers between performances. At one point, Chisholm and Rust performed an improvised salsa routine.
“Body Language” opened with the contemporary dance “Vanguardian,” performed by the entire dance company and choreographed by Hyper Xpressions founder TJ Menz ’13. Three solos from the first half of the night were created by students: “Behind Closed Doors” by Nemoto, “Human” by Eloise Wukmir (first year) and “Medicine” by Jenna Brown (senior).
“Behind Closed Doors” played songs “Sure Thing” by Miguel and “Don’t Hold the Wall” by Justin Timberlake. The audience showed their appreciation for the sexy hip-hop piece with screams and loud encouragement.
“That intro beat [of ‘Don’t Hold The Wall’ by Justin Timberlake] was something I had to use. It’s an old song, but for year I’ve been dreaming of choreographing to it,” Nemoto said. “I’ve never choreographed hip-hop before.”
Jessica Lee (first year) said she felt honored to perform a solo during the showcase.
“Being so vulnerable on the stage and really showing others who I am as a dancer and as a person is something that I will never forget and will be grateful to Hyper forever,” Lee said via email.
As the dancers swiftly changed outfits during intermission, Chisholm and Rust asked for six audience members to come to the stage and play a game. In the spirit of Hyper Xpressions’ infamous photoshoots, the game was about which group could strike the best Hyper Xpressions pose. The final poses both groups chose made the room ring with laughter; one person ended up being hoisted in the air on their group member’s shoulders and the other had a person positioned in between their legs. Lencia Kebede (senior) sang “At Last” by Etta James to wrap up the intermission.
The second portion consisted of more guest and student choreography as opposed to choreography by Menz. Brown and Dina Abdelaal (junior) choreographed a dance fueled by a love of Beyonce called “Like Like Liquor.” Departing from hip-hop, Abdelaal performed her own solo called “What Kind of Man,” owning the stage with powerful movements. Abdelaal also choreographed a piece with Nemeto called “Give Me Love” for six dancers. Lee said the choreography in “Give Me Love” was not only intricately executed, but it produced raw emotion that brought her to tears. The contemporary number called for the dancers to perform graceful movements. They leapt and twirled across the stage, light on their feet.
Hyper Xpressions performs at various Occidental events throughout the year, but nothing compares to their annual showcase, which illustrates all their hours of hard work and practice. They put in most hours during “Hell Week,” the week before the annual showcase that totals up to 12 hours of rehearsal, according to Nemeto.
“Bonding through suffering — that’s the best way to do it,” Nemeto said.