Elem3nt, University hip-hop dance group, performs, grows on campus

Elem3nt+hip-hop+group+practices+routine+in+Union+for+upcoming+performance+on+March+24+in+Olscamp+117+at+7+p.m.

Elem3nt hip-hop group practices routine in Union for upcoming performance on March 24 in Olscamp 117 at 7 p.m.

Pulse Reporter and Pulse Reporter

Freshman Yai-Jahnee Lawler couldn’t imagine college without dancing.

When she found out about Elem3nt, the University’s hip-hop dance crew, it seemed like a perfect fit.

“I went to a performing arts high school, so dance is all I know,” she said.

Lawler, who is trained mainly in ballet, said at first she was hesitant with trying hip-hop dancing.

“Hip-hop is so free, it’s different from the strictness [of ballet],” she said.

After joining, Lawler became more comfortable with dancing with a new group of people.

Elem3nt, which was formed in 2008 under the name Eccentricity, started off rough. After parting ways from the group’s original president, a meeting was held to decide the fate of the group, Tony DeBerry, senior and choreographer for Elem3nt said.

The group decided to change their name to Elem3nt because of the diversity of the group.

“When we started it was a bunch of girls and me,” he said.

Elem3nt has danced for different events and organizations around campus.

“We danced for the MLK day, Saint Baldrick’s, Dance Marathon and Sibs ‘n Kids weekend,” said sophomore and co-Vice President Kezia Reynolds, who started dancing with the group last year. “We try to give back to the community.”

“When I was a freshman there was a dance contest at the Rec and I competed because I was with my friends and I was comfortable,” Reynolds said. “The president actually spotted me the next day, and told me I should go to an informational.”

Reynolds attended an information session not intending to join, but after seeing how dedicated the group was, she auditioned.

“We have try-outs in the spring and fall,” she said.

Sophomore Jessica Miles said at a typical practice there are a mix of people that attend.

“There is a lot of diverse people from all walks of life coming together to make a nice group of people,” she said.

The stress that happens when preparing for performances only makes the group better, Miles said.

“You have to have pressure to make a diamond,” she said.

Finding time for Elem3nt isn’t hard for Miles.

“Once you are a part of Elem3nt you will want to make it your number one priority,” she said.

Sophomore Christian Sims has danced with Elem3nt for almost two years now.

“I love it,” he said. “It can be stressful, but at the end of the day we are all here for the same reason; our love of dance.”

Sims said he hopes to someday become a company dancer. Eventually, he wants open his own dance company for underprivileged children who cannot afford lessons.

Freshman Amarea Swanson said when she first joined, she had to learn to take orders to make the group better.

“We were used to not talking to the choreographer; you watched and you danced,” she said.

Swanson soon learned to adjust and said she likes that dance keeps her active.

“It’s another way to get out of the [residence hall], you can just be like ‘sorry I have to go dance,’” she said.

DeBerry said Elem3nt is currently growing, and will continue.

“For any new member I ask, be patient with the growth, we are a family and just like any family we have kinks that need to be worked out,” he said.

Elem3nt’s first showcase will be held March 24 at 7 p.m. in Olscamp 117.