At Oasis Night on Friday, January 10th, the spirited dance of the Step Team electrified the bleachers and revitalized players with their energizing performances and was unaffected by the controversy that surrounded the Dance Team and their music.
The dance team, led by captains and seniors Chase Behar and Brittany Jones, danced to hip-hop pieces “Dior,” “Momma I Hit a Lick,” and “Krippy Kush.” However, the day of their performance, administrators and two people from the Athletic Department had concerns that these songs couldn’t be used in its current iteration because of their content: sexual connotations and references to drugs.
After hearing from her colleagues, Dean of Student Life, Alexandra Davis asked the Dance Team if they could edit their music. “I asked Dr. Gittens If we could take out the lines or mute over them then they should be fine,” Davis said. “I know it was very last minute.”
However, with such little time, the dance team could not relearn a performance reliant on the timing of their music. “It would be very uncomfortable and involve way more time that we didn’t have. All hip hop music is interpretational and includes messages that have never been issues in the past,” Behar said.
With the help of Head of Upper School Sarah Bates and Assistant Head of School for Academics Michal Hershkovitz, Behar and Jones compromised to edit out the parts of the music that were inappropriate.
“It’s not their fault for what happened, by any means,” Davis said. “I felt terrible for them. I completely understand: once you’ve choreographed, you can’t take out a verse.”
However, even when the dance team performed at Oasis Night, both Behar and Jones expressed disappointment regarding the volume of their music.
Jones said, “Chase, and I weren’t pleased with the turnout of our performance specifically because the music was extremely low. As dancers, it is extremely awkward and discouraging when the music isn’t loud because we can hear our own movements and a lot of commentary from the crowd. The music not only influences the crowd’s energy, but it is a critical part of the performers’ energy.”
While performers felt that low music impacted the excitement of the crowd, many spectators didn’t seem to notice.
Sophomore Mary Kinnane said, “The dance team did an amazing job! They were super coordinated and you could tell they worked really hard. It was a great addition to the basketball game and night.”
“This year the Dance Team brought a different vibe to Oasis Night,” said Junior Natalie Nocella. “They pulled off an equally incredible performance, as usual.”
Behar said, “our energy compensated,” and it surely reflected on the court. Following the halftime show, Boys’ Basketball re-surged from a 29 to 36 score at halftime, beating Riverdale 74 to 69 after a close and intense battle in overtime.
Epiphany, the Step Team, performed during the Girls’ Basketball halftime show, led by captain and senior Kayla White. The team added music to their performance for the first time, stepping to “Never Recover,” “Sin,” and “Push It.”
Senior Rebeka Cabrera said, “Kayla shines as captain, with her creative and intricate choreography. We have a great mix of both longtime and new steppers. I think all of these things contributed to this being one of my favorite performances during my four years on the team, and I’m beyond satisfied with this being my last Oasis performance.”
After meeting with the captains of both the Dance and Step Team, the administration hopes to support them whether by getting the team’s rehearsal times set in the spaces they need, or to have a system in place, in which captains know who and how to bring and clear their songs.
Davis reiterated, “It’s hard being the messenger for some of these things, but I get it, music is personal, cultural, and there are a lot of pieces I think the school has to contend with.”