Dancing with the ‘Birds: hip hop to ballet and beyond

In the newest edition of Dancing with the 'Birds, take a look at the hip hop of Unlimited Dance Club, Dance Horizons, a cross-disciplinary dance club and the UBC Ballet Club — a 100 per cent student run club for ballet enthusiasts.

Unlimited Dance Club

Do you have a passion, or even a slight curiosity, for hip hop? Do movies like Step Up 2: The Streets, or shows like America’s Best Dance Crew make you want to get up and move? Then Unlimited Dance Club (UDC) — UBC’s street dance club — might just be the place for you.  

After six years as a UBC club, UDC currently sits with a membership of about 130 dancers. Their primary focus is the street styles — particularly free styling. This term, they are offering exclusively beginner level classes, club President Carson Shi said, for students to try out popping, locking, breaking and K-pop whether they are experienced dancers or not. 

Although the club offers choreography classes for the street styles — which are some of their most popular classes —  they put a lot of emphasis on free style dancing and creating your own style as a dancer.

“You will see a lot of our members practicing, developing their own skills and style with respect to street style dance,” Shi said. 

UDC also offers open practices where members from the dance community come to campus and practice without an instructor. Dancers come from all over Vancouver, including dancers from SFU, general community members from outside of UBC and "Robson people," as Shi called them, who dance on Robson Street.

Outside of classes, Shi said that a big feature of UDC is the opportunity to put your moves to the test in dance battles around town.

“One of the big things about our club [is that], since we are freestyle based ... we have members who go out to these battles and represent us,” Shi said. “We also do, of course, practice on Robson — especially in the summer when there are no clubs here at UBC, Robson is the place to go.”

UDC also runs a competitive choreography team that has rebranded this year under the name Project U&G. Auditions for this team, Shi said, will probably run again next fall. 

“One of their goals is to break into the Vancouver competition scene which is already really talented,” Shi said of the team. 

“We’re trying to grow the dance community here at UBC,” Shi said. “We know that there are talented dancers out there and we are trying to bring them all into just one big dance community where we can all develop ourselves and practice together.”

UBC Ballet Club

The UBC Ballet Club
The UBC Ballet Club Photo courtesy Justin Lee

One of the latest additions to UBC’s dance community, the UBC Ballet Club offers students a chance to plié, pirouette and let out their inner ballerina. 

Founded two years ago by two of their senior students, the UBC Ballet Club currently boasts a tight-knit group of 30 students — half of which found out about the club just this year. 

A unique feature of the club is that they are entirely run by students. 

“We take pride in the fact that we are 100 per cent student run and we don’t take outside teachers,” club President Asako Takigawa said. “Club members are helping out with the teaching and some of the choreography.” 

“A lot of the clubs, even the yoga club, bring in instructors from outside of school. So we really provide opportunities for students who may have not had the opportunity to grow their careers in the dance community to do that with the club,” Vice-President Sara Nussle continued.

Ballet Club also accepts all levels of dancers — their members range from ballet beginners to students who have been a part of professional ballet companies. From this, they also offer the unique chance for ballet dancers to teach classes if they feel so inclined.

“Everyone works really well together,” Nussle said. “People who may be more experienced are always willing to help and guide students who are just learning.” 

For those more experienced dancers willing to audition, Ballet Club offers a competition team. Some other club highlights this year include the production of a Ballet Club calendar and a club flash mob — though this idea is still in the works. 

For registration, Takigawa and Nussle said they are not encouraging students to sign up until next term as the teams have already been solidified. But for those interested in getting involved, there are performances to attend, calendars to buy and practices to come watch until sign-up runs again in January! 

Dance Horizons

Potentially UBC’s most diverse dance club, Dance Horizons prides itself on being open to new ideas and new dance styles as well as offering all levels of classes from beginner to experienced. 

“We do different classes, various styles, various difficulties, which gives us a wider range,” Dance Horizons President Jasmine Koh said. “Most other dance clubs focus on particular styles.... We have a wide range of classes and that’s what makes us different.” 

If you want to take the next step up from classes, Dance Horizons offers three dance teams which audition again next term and vary in ability level and style for members to try. The only difference in comparison to classes is that they are commitment based, Koh explained. Students are asked to commit to practice every week instead of on a drop-in basis. 

First, there is the Dance Horizons Crew (DHC) — a hip hop training program set up to introduce students to hip hop and the idea of dancing in a crew. 

Similarly, Dance Horizons Company acts as an introduction to dancing with a group in this case a dance company, but more so for students committed to contemporary and jazz. 

“They focus on teaching people how to do contemporary and jazz, [as well as] the basic techniques of it. Again, it is not as intensive, but is really there for someone’s first experience in a company or group,” Koh said. 

There is also the option to audition for the DHX dance team — a cross genre dance team. 

“We do hip hop, jazz [and] pretty much anything we can think of. It’s new and we’re still kind of figuring it out,” Koh said. “But they’re the ones representing us when we have performances or shows outside of campus.”

Going forward this year, Koh said that — although they are still figuring out the logistics of being in their new location, the Nest — the club’s main goal is to keep expanding. 

“We’re always trying to reach out to people, that’s always been our thing,” she said. “We are trying to reach out to everyone ... expand our classes and get more people to dance.”

A previous version of this article stated a photo was of Dance Horizons. It has been corrected to Project U&G. The Ubyssey regrets this error.