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So You Think You Can Dance?

So You Think You Can Dance?Tufts' dance crews battle it out to see who reigns supreme, all while raising money for countries in need.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [02.09.09] On Feb. 6, Tufts' top dance troupes went head-to-head in Cohen Auditorium for the title of Tufts' Best Dance Crew. The event marked the final roundofa three-week competition that has featured groups including TURBO, Spirit of Color, Tap, Burlesque, Garba, Envy, La Salsa and Sarabande. Proceeds from the dance-offwill benefit the student organization PANGEA, which promotes global awareness and action.

Tufts E-News chatted with the coordinators of this event -- Rebekah Holtz (A'11), Ken Lee (A'11), Hisham Bedri (E'11) and Rishikesh Bhandary (A'09) -- to learn more about this community effort that has brought together a number of Tufts organizations including TCU Senate, the programming board and the dance department.

So, who is Tufts Best Dance Crew? Find out at the end of the story.

How did you come up with this idea?

Lee: Well, funny story. I was in the shower, and I thought, "I want to help North Korea. What's the best way to do that? What do kids at Tufts like to do?" All the dance groups at Tufts have a great following. People always go to the shows. So I thought, "Let's do a dance show."

I contacted Hisham [over the summer] and I asked him what he thought, and he said, "Let's do it." He's from Sudan, I'm from Korea, and so I guess we have our own conflicts that we want to help resolve. For him it's obviously Darfur. For me it's starvation in North Korea. So we thought, "We can't do this ourselves. Let's go to a really big club that has a lot of members that is worldwide [and] charity-based." So that's why we contacted Rishikesh and Rebekah.

Holtz: PANGEA usually does a spring event, so we thought it would be a great idea to bring two parts of the campus together, our group for a global awareness and advocacy and all the dance groups.

For PANGEA, our spring events in the past have mainly been just our group members, but this is [for] the entire Tufts community. It's really an opportunity for us to reach out to more people and to have them hear what we want to share.

How does the event work?

Holtz: Each week we had the judges pick a group to move on, and then the audience picks a group to move on.

Lee: [The judges] critique each dance, and after each bracket they select their favorite. After that, between the remaining ones we had the audience pick [by applause].

We have a decibel reader which was courtesy of [Cohen Auditorium events manager] Mark Sullivan. We also have to say thanks to Phil Bene (A'11). He was a great part of making this show happen. He's been working the applause meter and our lights.

Bedri: Our [official] judges have been Duncan Pickard, TCU President; Carl Onubogu, Neha Garge and Maeghan Oberoi -- they're the captains of the Bhangra team.For the last performance we have alumni Rony Jaques (A'08) and then we had [Tufts President Lawrence S. Bacow's wife] Adele Bacow as one of the judges for the second show, who was amazing.

Watch Turbo's performance at the event:

How did you get the dance troupes involved?

Holtz: We just talked to all of them. Usually they don't like competing against each other, but because all the money raised was going to charity, they were really willing to help out.

Lee: All the dance groups have been really cooperative. We asked them to do things that are completely unheard of. They have met those expectations and exceeded them. Their rehearsals are usually an hour or two max per week. These guys have been rehearsing five or six hours per week.

Bedri: Each week they came back with even more extreme moves, maneuvers, dances, and choreography, and each week is a huge surprise. Each group - even the ones who have been eliminated - have been amazing, incredible.

Closing thoughts?

Hasham: [We wanted] to raise as much money as we could and for everyone to have a good time. It's a really unique event, the first of its kind at Tufts. People will be remembering this long after this is done, and hopefully if we do it next year it's going to be even more tremendous.

Lee: It's been fun, it's been hectic, but we loved every single bit of it. A lot of work went into this and the show's going to be absolutely fantastic.

By Molly Frizzell (A'09).


The winner of the final competition for Tufts' Best Dance Crew was Spirit of Color. Congratulations! The event raised a total of $3000 for PANGEA. Discussion of which overseas organizations will receive the donations is still underway.

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