Presenting StuySquad 2021-2022

StuySquad 2021-2022 is back this year in a pre recorded and live streamed format with performances from 11 crews.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Stuyvesant’s largest annual dance showcase, StuySquad, was shifted to a prerecorded format and broadcast on February 18. The showcase consists of dancers from all grades who join crews specializing in specific dance styles: Contemporary, Boys Hip-Hop, Girls Hip-Hop, Girls K-Pop, Co-ed K-Pop, Flow, Latin, Step, Tap, C-Pop, and Bollywood. COVID-19 guidelines and additional restrictions caused by the Omicron variant affected StuySquad’s timeline and practices, but the show was successfully prerecorded on February 11.

In pre-pandemic years, practices were typically held in-person immediately after school from October up to the showcase, which was usually a week before winter break. “Our freshman year, there were practices after school. We were able to use school spaces, [and] they were usually [from] 3:45 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.,” junior and StuySquad President-in-Training Suki Ferguson said.

However, the cancellation of after school activities in December due to Omicron case surges forced StuySquad to find new methods to conduct practices and postpone the showcase date by a month. “Practice spaces were limited this year because they restricted us to certain areas only,” senior and StuySquad Co-Director of Logistics Flora Au said.

StuySquad struggled with a consistent practice schedule given the after school restrictions enforced by the administration. “We didn’t get [as] much help with the administration as we wanted. We really tried to work things out with them, really tried to schedule meetings, schedule the show, schedule practices, but we were really restricted, given that we’re in a pandemic,” Ferguson said.

Using school spaces was convenient and ensured reasonable costs for StuySquad preparation. To accommodate for the changes, directors moved practices to various places such as at a park or under the bridge. Some directors had to pay out of pocket for studio practices. “We only had our studio practices to work on our sets, which was a problem, since there were limited studios to begin with. We had to pay for these [six] studios ourselves, which could amount to $50 to $60 [for] each studio,” junior and director of co-ed K-pop Kaylie Huang said in an e-mail interview. Studio practices were also sometimes challenged by a lack of attendance.

The effects of COVID-19 were more disruptive in some crews than others, such as Flow, due to the rise of positive cases.“Speaking of Flow, our practices have been kind of weird because people had COVID or people were uncomfortable coming to practices because of COVID, so we had some issues making people come to practices this year,” senior and StuySquad Co-Director of Logistics Aaron Hsu said said.

Because StuySquad directors and crew members held both practices and the final showcase virtually last year, there was a generally smooth transition into virtual practices. “The transition wasn’t that big, since I had experienced something similar last year, when StuySquad was entirely online,” sophomore and Bollywood crewmember Lorraine Li said in an e-mail interview. “Practicing online freed up the time I spent [toward] StuySquad, since I no longer had to take in mind the time I would get home, and there were less practices. I was also able to catch up on [choreography] I missed through individual Zoom calls.”

For those who contracted COVID-19, virtual practices were essential, yet they made it difficult to communicate within teams. “I had so much pressure from school for missing so many weeks, but I’d still take one or two hours every day to practice the choreo by myself,” junior and Bollywood crew member Elahi said. “Every other day, I’m hearing I’m not part of something which I originally was, and instead, I’m getting added to something else.”

Some crew members also noted some instances of miscommunication within the StuySquad community. “No one knows what's happening sometimes. Everyone hears it through rumors and I don't know if it's through the board or the school in general. I feel like they're kind of like whatever and just let it pass,” anonymous junior A said.

However, the current Presidents-in-Training hope to work on reducing the level of miscommunication and dedicating more time to planning for next year’s performance. “Our vision for next year would be trying to make this a little bit less [messy] and just a little bit more planned out,” junior and StuySquad President-in-Training Caleb Song said.

In particular, StuySquad leadership is optimistic about increasing crewmember engagement next year. “We’re definitely going to push for more interaction. I feel like there was a lack of participation throughout so many extracurriculars this year. In SING!, StuySquad, [and] clubs in general, there’s not as [many] people really wanting to do it, so I hope next year, we can really promote [StuySquad],” Ferguson said.

Another virtual aspect of this year’s performance is the prerecorded format, which requires less editing than last year’s video and not as many modifications to choreography. The StuySquad Board hopes that the showcase’s medium can help it reach a wider audience. “I actually feel like there’s an opportunity for more people to see the show, [since] we’re not restricted to just the capacity of the auditorium,” Ferguson said.

However, some dancers were disappointed with the lack of a live audience. “The confidence that you get on the stage is from the audience, so I think that without the people being able to cheer you on or watching kind of makes it hard for you to realize that it’s a real performance,” Au said.

Despite the lack of spectators, cheers from crew members helped to lighten the atmosphere. “This was my first time performing with StuySquad on stage. The performance had so much excitement throughout. Since students weren’t allowed to watch, the only cheers we heard were from other crews,” junior and Girls Hip-Hop crewmember Cynthia Chang said.

Aside from some issues that arose during the performance, the recording of the showcase went smoothly. “Of course, there were slight issues within the show, including slight delays and technical issues, but overall I would say it was a huge success,” junior and Boys Hip-Hop and Co-ed K-Pop crew member Roy Park said.

Though this year’s crews faced the unanticipated cancellation of in-person after school practices and a prerecorded format, the StuySquad Board is proud of the community the dancers have built to support each other. “Being able to do the show is an accomplishment in and of itself, especially after last year,” Ferguson said. “Transitioning back to in-person was very difficult for a lot of people, but we were able to find directors, a crew, a bunch of people who still want to dance and still want to put on a really good show.”