Katherine Scott/Pipe Dream Photographer

The Chamber Hall of the Anderson Center was buzzing with anticipation and enthusiasm on Saturday as the Black Dance Repertoire (BDR) presented its event, “Circus: Freak Show,” to a lively crowd.

BDR is a performance group that brings a range of dances to Binghamton University including hip-hop and ballet. Saturday’s event invited dance teams from BU and New York state to compete for a $500 grand prize. The teams, which were judged based on choreography, theme, stage presence and audience reaction, each performed a circus-themed dance, in the hopes of taking home the top prize.

BU’s Hoop Troop opened the event. The entertaining performance used props such as gravity balls, a ball which gives the illusion it is floating, and diabolo, a prop with a string and double-sided top, as well as face paint and, of course, hula hoops. As the audience waited for the competition to begin, a variety of pop hits engaged the audience. The dance teams, who were seated in the crowd, took the chance to flaunt their dexterity by moving along to the music.

BDR was the first act during the competitive portion of the event, although the group was not included in official competition. Its impressive circus-themed number displayed BDR’s varied style, including exciting acrobatics, fast paced step and an awe-inspiring male split.

Indiara Jackson, a sophomore majoring in Africana studies, enjoyed BDR’s unique style.

“It’s mixed, but it’s fast and energetic, but also universal; they incorporate so many different styles,” Jackson said. “They’re a really fun group to watch.”

Following BDR was the International Flag Dancers, a group from BU, who delivered an enthusiastic performance that showcased the group’s ability to dance as one. After the Flag Dancers, Ithaca College’s Pulse Hip Hop team performed, delivering a fast and energetic routine that inspired a level of crowd interaction that other teams failed to illicit.

Next up was the SUNY Oswego African Student Organization, whose dance presented a sinister, enthralling narrative that chronicled the lives of circus workers, while incorporating many impressive acrobatic feats. Also hailing from Ithaca College was Island Fusion, an all-girl group adorned in sparkly, red ringmasters’ coats.

The SUNY Plattsburgh Dance Corps also came to compete and utilized ballet styles to deliver an emotionally poignant dance exploring the stages of love and lust.

Finally, John Jay’s Universal Image Dance Team closed out the competitive portion of the event with a high-energy and engaging performance while disguised in masks.
During the deliberation period, BDR performed the finale of the night, a girl-centric performance, emulating the spirit and energy they had achieved with their first performance. Third place was awarded to the team from SUNY Plattsburgh while Universal Image from John Jay captured second. First place, and the $500 grand prize, was awarded to the SUNY Oswego African Student Organization team.

Regardless of places and prizes, participants including Ilana Winter, a senior majoring in psychology and a member of the International Flag Dancers, were proud of what they had accomplished.

“It was so much fun on stage; it was great to get up there,” Winter said. “It’s the first time in awhile that we have been in a BDR event. It’s great to have been invited and get the chance to dance with different groups. It’s a good way to get new inspiration.”