Stuy Legacy Places First at Illusion Dance Competition

Stuy Legacy won the first place title at the Illusion Dance Competition at Stony Brook University on November 16.

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Stuy Legacy, an urban dance team at Stuyvesant, came in first place at the Illusion Dance Competition, at Stony Brook University, on November 16. They placed third several days before at the Reign or Shine Dance Competition, hosted by the New Jersey Institute of Technology on November 10.

Stuy Legacy was established in 2015 and has since grown to become a competitive team, consistently bringing home victories from different dance competitions in the New York metropolitan area.

This year, Legacy directors, seniors Jeff Lin and Crystal Liu and junior Min Sun Yu, and choreographers, seniors Zuwei Li and Andy Li, decided to diverge from Legacy’s tradition of creating a medley set, or a piece choreographed to a series of loosely connected songs, to develop a choreography following a narrative. Specifically, their goal was to create a piece about the idea that “no matter how alone you may feel, there will always be someone there to help [you] find your way,” Lin said in an e-mail interview.

The diverse music choice for the dance set reflects a progression of someone stuck in a state of hopelessness, and his or her recovery. Their choreography begins with “Lovely,” by Billie Eilish, a song with a somber mood, transitions into “Devil’s Work,” by Joyner Lucas, a heavy rap song representing anger, and ends with “Flashlight” by Jessie J, a song symbolizing unity. “It’s like a storyline with no real character but more with emotions. In the beginning, there’s the feeling of being confused and isolated. The second song is all rap, and it highlights the anger that comes [after the confusion and isolation]. [...] After that, [...] we all reconvene. It ends on a happy note with the concept of unity and how you’re not alone,” Yu said.

In preparation for the competition, Legacy members faced several challenges, since a dance set with a story arc was something they had never done before. For directors and choreographers, these challenges included communicating with each other in order to stay on the same page and figuring out how they could tell the story through dance. For the team as a whole, a primary obstacle was being able to effectively convey their message through the set. “This set, in particular, required a lot of performance to execute, which meant we had to take dance from simply moving our arms and legs to really embodying the emotions,” Lin said.

Legacy members did not expect to place high in the competition because they were not only competing against other high school teams but college dance teams as well. Despite not expecting to win, the team practiced diligently and worked to improve, which eventually contributed to their success. “Ultimately, the most important team we should be beating is ourselves, and placing should just be a byproduct of continual improvement,” Lin said.

Younger Legacy members also acknowledge their growth despite having only been on the team for one season. “I think I grew dancing-wise, and I’m able to look at myself more easily instead of cringing when watching myself [dance],” freshman and Legacy member Caleb Song said. “I’m more comfortable and confident in myself. I’m able to build on criticism and give myself feedback.”

Legacy is a place for members to not only cultivate their passion for dance, but also to grow and make long-lasting friendships. “Legacy has given me identity, confidence, and so much love. They’ve gotten me through rough patches in my life, and they are [whom] I experience my highest moments with,” Lin said.

Yu and Lin both voiced their hopes of making Legacy more inclusive for anyone interested in dancing. “Many people think Legacy is ‘too good’ and that they can’t try out [for the team], but Legacy was actually originally created for people who just wanted to dance,” Yu said.

Expressing similar sentiments, Lin encourages anyone to pursue their passion for dancing, regardless of their current skill level. “I want everyone to know that anyone can be a dancer and anyone can be a part of this family,” he said. “Many of us started from rock bottom, including myself. Never give up on yourself!”

Looking ahead, Lin aspires for the team to push past their creative boundaries, now knowing that they can reach their limits. “We’ve learned what our strengths, weaknesses, and capabilities are this season. Spring is our time to capitalize on our potential,” he said.