Music is blaring from the speakers and shoes are squeaking as dancers glide across the floor in the M building dance studio.
Trey Irby III is pop locking, his body flowing into each new move fluidly. Jamal Hargrove is break dancing on the floor, spinning and supporting his body with his hands as his legs twirl around then under him and over his head. Anthony Nguyen flips onto his head and spins, his legs resembling the blades of a helicopter.
The moves look difficult, but the dancers practice them effortlessly. They don’t even break a sweat. They watch themselves in the mirror to ensure that every move is in sync. At this moment it’s just them, the mirror and their music.
This is a typical practice for The Dance Tank, a new club whose main goal is to share their love of dance with other students and to learn different types of dance and dance techniques.
The club was a dream for co-founder Noel Mathew. He discovered he had a passion for dancing in high school but there wasn’t a formal dance crew.
When he arrived at Eastfield he met Hargrove and discovered he had a knack for dancing as well. They decided to start a club and eventually merged with the Eastfield Dance Club to form The Dance Tank, which is more hip-hop oriented than the original Eastfield Dance Club.
The name Dance Tank was derived from the concept of a think tank, a collaboration of thinkers. Similarly, the club is a collaboration of dancers.
Each member has knowledge of different dance styles and techniques. Break dancing, popping and contemporary dance are a few.
“I think [the name] is appropriate,” dance instructor Danielle Georgiou said. “It’s people coming together from different places and with different ideas and trying to find a common spread. It’s learning how to work and cooperate with each other.”
Members are looking forward to producing a hip-hop oriented video performance at the beginning of November to showcase their skills. They would like to show the video on campus so they can gain exposure and recruit more dancers.
Hargrove said this first video performance is extremely important for the club.
“The video represents our dedication,” he said. “Without dedication, we won’t be ready to compete as a team. It’s an opportunity to form something bigger than what we can do individually.”
Club members are planning other events on and off campus to help promote and fund the club. One possibility is a dance performance in the Pit which they hope will inspire others to dance.
They also want to host a car wash on campus and a haunted house off campus to raise money. The club is promoting these activities through its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.
New members are accepted at any time. However, there are auditions for the club’s elite dance group. The elite team members will perform in the video and in future competitions like the World of Dance.
World of Dance is the largest international urban dance competition and also the largest touring dance competition. Participants from across the country will compete to win the most prestigious awards in dance. It will be held in Dallas next spring.
“It is essential to have a unified goal as a team,” Mathew said. “It motivates us and makes us progress. That is why [World of Dance] is an essential part of our club.”
Georgiou said the competition will give the club some exposure and will also let the members experience dance at a different level.
“World of Dance is a specialty niche type of dance, so when they go for the first time it will be an eye-opening experience for them,” she said. “It will expose their name and their ideas to a larger group of people.”
The club holds practice sessions Monday through Friday at different locations on campus. Each day is designed to learn something different. Think tank Mondays are used to come together and work on new moves.
“We meet to discuss what we are going to be doing, and we do team-building exercises to create that flow in interpreting words or sentences into movement,” Hargrove said.
Tuesday through Thursday meetings are normal practice days for choreography. Fridays have been coined “Freestyle Friday.” This is when new members are taught new moves. Club members also use this time to practice as individuals and see what skills and dance moves they can incorporate into a routine.
“We all have different styles of dancing, and it’s not like something we can actually see on a regular basis or during regular practices,” Mathew said. “So we set a date aside so we can experience what styles we bring to the table.”
Hargrove said he wants the club to be fun and hopes other students will feel free to ask questions and learn new things.
“It’s about enjoying yourself and not being afraid to try something new,” he said. “If you come in and see us free-styling, don’t hesitate to ask us, ‘Hey how do you do that move? What kind of style do you do?’ We would be happy to teach you.”