Breaking Ground: A dance party for everyone — or at least those who got tickets

I was in awe of the passion and inclusivity in the air last Friday at the highly-anticipated Breaking Ground dance exhibition. The show represented the best of the Stanford experience: try everything, and cheer on others doing the same.

This inclusive spirit was not a coincidence. At least four of the 16 dance teams who performed were non-audition groups — including the show’s host Common Origins — Breaking Ground was a space for dancers of a range of experience levels.

With the event selling out within hours, Dinkelspiel Auditorium was packed with audience members coming to support their friends and acquaintances — and support they sure did. Applause came in waves so thunderous and continuous that it appeared to blend into the song beats. It was as if I was watching a live concert happening in parallel.

Dv8, XTRM, Legacy and Alliance were crowd favorites with fast, hype numbers and flashy moves, keeping the audience on the edges of their seats. 

Dv8’s opening choreography to Beyonce’s “Bow Down” impressed with in-sync hip-hop moves presented with just the right amount of sass. The group brushed off technical difficulties before the performance — which saw no black-out and an ill-timed entrance of the music — a fact that only made the audience scream louder.

Common Origins, Stanford’s largest non-audition dance team, delivered two dance numbers at the end of both acts. Unified by a superhero theme, the group wowed the audience with their formidable size and well-synchronized formations to “Runaway Baby,” “AMERICA HAS A PROBLEM” and more.

Still, I was glad to see this excitement mirrored for non-hip-hop dance styles as well, from Bhangra’s animated kick-jumps to Mua Lac Hong’s adorable parasol dance in couples. Swingtime dancers’ lively Lindy Hop spins and partner lifts likewise enthused the crowd.

I realize that to point out where particular performances fell short would be missing the point. The value of Breaking Ground was its nature as a campus-wide celebration of student artistic endeavors, especially of those probing into new dance forms.

No other number better embodied this spirit than the performance of Stanford JumpRope, which stole the show to the beat of MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This.” 

Seven students lined up on stage, each with a rope in their hands. They slapped the colorful ropes to their left and right before jumping singles and doubles in time with the music.

The performance quickly escalated as members jumped two ropes at once while doing backflips or handstands. Each performer had their time in center stage with acrobatics and unthinkable rope tricks, and the performance was the only act to earn a standing ovation. 

Some of their jumps did not turn out as anticipated — their ropes got tangled, and they had to take a few seconds to catch up with the others. But the occasional flaws did not take away from their overall feat, and the audience cheered them on.

One of the most memorable moments of the night occurred during intermission, when performers and audience members alike were invited to come up to the stage and freestyle to the music. Three dancers hopped across the stage in Bhangra moves to electronic pop beats in Donkeyboy’s “Silver Moon.” Another did a death drop to the delight of the crowd. 

Breaking Ground felt like a party in which everyone was welcomed, included and supported. It was a space where everyone could try and fail free of judgment; attendees and performers simply had fun and celebrated one another.

Editor’s Note: This article is a review and includes subjective thoughts, opinions and critiques.