NYU kicked off the new semester with Spring Welcome 2016, launching with the second annual “So You Think NYU Can Dance competition. Structured to mirror the hit FOX reality television show, the Student Resource Center got four guest judges — including Season 11 “So You Think You Can Dance” finalist Bridget Whitman — to come in and comment on all nine competitors.
Ranging from a hard hitting hip-hop group to a self taught jazz fusion soloist, all brave competitors were a joy to watch. With more than 450 people in attendance, the night encapsulated some rarely seen talents of NYU students — including abstract under-the-sea interpretations and hip-hop freestyle dancing.
The goal of Spring Welcome is to celebrate the arrival of the new students on campus, as well as to foster community in the students returning from break. “So You Think NYU Can Dance,” created last year by current CAS junior Ashley Holyfield, was created to be an event where anyone interested in dance — casually or professionally — could come and meet others with similar interests.
“We provide something for all students,” said Isabella Villacampa, a Program Administrator in the Student Resource Center. “We had people compete from all years, including a masters student, coming from a variety of schools with all different levels of training.”
During the night, the audience enjoyed a wide variety of dance, from rhythmic hip-hop groups to interpretive, postmodern styles. SPS freshman Junting Mao gave an outstanding jazz-fusion solo performance in red heels, and student MC Shawn Thibault attempted a Swan Lake dance.
Second place went to Tandon freshman student Jed Colman, who is currently studying Integrated Digital Media. Colman came out on stage with stellar confidence, dancing in a smooth robotic freestyle to musical mashups. Colman had a great connection with the audience. His fun-loving, easy-going personality was transparent throughout his performance.
In first place was Steinhardt junior Nasrin Jafari. She performed a heartwarming contemporary solo, which told the story of her journey to rediscover dance. Through dance, she communicated how and why she chose her major in Politics of Education and what extracurricular sacrifices arose out of this decision. Nasrin is currently trying to find a better balance between academics and dancing, especially hip hop.
“So You Think You NYU Can Dance” is one of several marquee events during Spring Welcome Week which includes more than 200 others. The last event will be the Spring Welcome Concert headlined by Betty Who on Feb. 18.
A version of this article appeared in the Feb. 1 print edition. Email Sydney Rappis at [email protected]