Introducing StuySquad 2023-2024

StuySquad holds their annual dance for the 2023-2024 school year with performances from 11 crews, including the new crew, Afrobeat.

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By Ryan Radwan

StuySquad 2023-2024, the annual showcase of Stuyvesant’s dance crews, was hosted on January 19 in the Murray Khan Theater. The showcase consisted of nine different styles of dance: Girls’ Hip Hop, Boys’ Hip Hop, Co-ed K-pop, Girls’ K-pop, C-pop, Bollywood, Modern, Latin, and Step. Each crew included members from across all grades. Additionally, a new dance crew was introduced this year: Afrobeat.

Afrobeat is based on traditional African dance consisting of percussion movements and elements of hip-hop. The founding of an Afrobeat crew has been in the works since last year, and it came to life with this year’s showcase. “In my freshman year, I saw that it was a possibility, but it didn't have enough interest in it. I am happy we did it this year; thankfully, [senior] Elma Lamany decided to direct,” sophomore and Afrobeat member Tahlia Jamir said. 

In preparation for the showcase, Afrobeat members were able to easily rehearse due to their shared passion for dance. “All of us were really in love with the dance experience, so because of that, we were able to run through choreos easily and all in one day, like each segment in a day, which was really fun and challenging,” Jamir said.

However, Afrobeat faced challenges due to their crew’s relatively small size. This meant that each member had to put in more work and needed to show up for every practice, which was not always possible. “It was sometimes harder to schedule things because we all had different commitments, and some of us were in the theater, some of us were in other crews like myself, but I think we pulled it together in the end,” Jamir said.

In the end, the Afrobeat crew was satisfied with their performance on the day of the showcase. Afrobeat received immense praise after its StuySquad debut and will be performing again at the Black History Month Dinner on February 15. “[Afrobeat] got a lot of compliments […] so I think that might bring it more to the main stage,” Jamir said. 

Communication was vital to ensuring all StuySquad members stayed on track. “There’s a lot of [organizational work] on Google Sheets [...]. For example, we had to compile a crew roster list, which took a lot of work because there were several people in multiple crews, and it took a lot of time to figure out exactly how many members there were in StuySquad,” senior and StuySquad Co-President Melody Wang said. 

Despite their stalwart organization, the board members faced setbacks during the production of StuySquad. “In terms of communication between admins, different directors of crews and members, and between board members as well, because everyone has their own things, there were issues with the deadline sometimes,” senior and StuySquad Co-President Talia Cheng said. 

Organizers were required to collaborate by listening to the participants’ ideas and combining them to fit everyone’s best interests. “We had to consider crew members and crew overlaps between the performance times. So we had to focus on that while creating the most engaging order of the show as possible to keep our audience entertained,” Wang said. 

On the day of the StuySquad dress rehearsal, there was a scheduling issue. “Our biggest problem was for dress rehearsal, we needed the stage, but Arsenic and Old Lace, [the Winter Drama presented by STC], still had their set, [...] So we had to wait for them to [clear the stage],” senior and StuySquad Co-Director of Logistics Tsehai Dennis said. 

StuySquad’s board members were also worried about the pacing of the show. “I think in terms of our time management with the show, we had to finish it by 6:30 [p.m], which has never happened before, so there was a lot of pressure that came with that. We had to cut out intermission and shorten our speeches, so [that required] a lot of quick thinking,” Cheng said.

As one of the MCs for StuySquad 2023-2024, Dennis expressed her own experience with challenges during the showcase day. “Another issue we ran into is our lights and sound guy was in Brooklyn when our show was supposed to start at 5:00 [P.M.] [...]. We couldn’t start performing [so Kyle Hon Chan and I], had to go up there and [distract the audience] for a bit,” said Dennis.

After the pressure on Dennis lifted as the show began, she expressed that she was able to enjoy the show. “That was my first time MCing, and the spotlight was on me. I was sweating, but I think it was really fun announcing the crews,” Dennis said.

Though there were setbacks with the organization of StuySquad, the showcase provided a sense of relief for audience members, as it took place after finals week. “I enjoyed how at ease the show made me and my friends. There was a sense of liveliness and excitement for the first time in a while, since it was after the finals,” sophomore and audience member Eric Chen said. 

Along with the performances from the crews, the MCs added to the excitement viewers experienced during the show. “Like previous performances that I’ve seen at Stuy, the MCs always do a great job of setting a welcoming atmosphere for the audience. I always found it funny when the MC’s friends say they love the MC,” Chen said. 

The board members also expressed their gratitude toward all of StuySquad’s crews. “I feel like with a lot of members, most of them were very dedicated and very excited because [...] everyone was enthusiastic with the song choices. There’s always issues with people not coming to practice and things like that, but then again, [on] the last week, everyone was really dedicated, and we put our all into our performance that day,” Cheng said.

For the senior board members and directors, StuySquad was an experience to build relationships with people from all grades. “I feel like a big part of StuySquad is everyone clutches up on the last week before the performance, so like there is a sense of community that comes along the way,” Cheng said.