Editor’s note: A Daily staffer performed in this dance show, but they were not involved in the creation, production or publication of this piece.
A few nights a year, Necto’s dance floor transforms into a stage, as the University of Michigan’s top dance teams meet to perform their finest choreographed routines. These teams only amplify the club’s electric energy with a jolt of talent and creativity. On Nov. 5, EnCore, a University performance-based hip-hop “family” held their annual “Bar Night” collaborative dance show. Every fall and winter, EnCore and fellow campus hip-hop crew Dance2XS host “Bar Night” events, inviting local dance teams to show their best work for over 500 local dance lovers on Necto’s iconic dance floor.
This year, EnCore’s Bar Night showcased only U-M groups, turning Necto’s floor into a meeting point for the University’s young, diverse and ever-innovative dance scene. Each dance number, while highly distinct, felt like a part of a larger story of the University’s creativity and connection to music. Every group had a unique flair, and each step and dance move kept the audience on their toes. Tap, hip-hop, K-Pop, jazz and contemporary and light performance groups took the floor, hitting every beat in the intoxicating, eclectic playlist.
The fenced-off dance floor felt like a stage. In the two-level club, people hung over the dance floor border and the second-level railings to feel like a part of the performance.
As hundreds of fans swarmed the club, energetic announcers Maggie Eisenberg, a Kinesiology sophomore, and Business sophomore Maddie Canter prepared the hushed audience for the opening act. EnCore opened the night with infectious energy.
EnCore, wearing individualized trendy white and forest green outfits, moved rapidly through an upbeat hip-hop and pop playlist. With their signature style, the team held a constant effortless flow through every note. Their routine clearly showed their collaborative approach to choreography, in which every dancer shines in their own right to form a cohesive, stunning routine that engages every audience member. Each dancer had their moment as they completed individualized yet cohesive choreography. Every move entertained, incorporating footwork, rhythm, team collaboration, floorwork and hip and arm movements while entrancing the audience. Their identity as a family radiated through every song.
Starting with “Comic Sans” and “Hot Shit,” EnCore hyped the crowd up for the peak of their inaugural Bar Night performance. Members of the crowd had to hold themselves back from storming the dance floor during Sam Smith’s “Unholy.” The number, choreographed by group directors and Bar Night coordinators LSA seniors Gracie Sclamberg and Eliza Feinberg, Ross sophomore Megan Hwang and LSA sophomore Maya Contorer, was explosive: the perfect start to their event. With every dancer dropping into the splits at the beat drop, the night was off to a roaring start.
As the DJ turned out the lights, the crowd prepared for Photonix, a glow stick performance troupe. The troupe brought the audience into a world of moving lights and stunning rhythms, with their motions and colors fitting each tempo and feel of the music. Every performance included different light types: handheld floating lights, small LEDs, long twirling sticks and wearable lights. Their moving performance in pink and white to “In the Name of Love,” choreographed by LSA juniors Jeanne Yang and Wesley Liao, and closing fast-paced light show of “Smoke Filled Room,” choreographed by Engineering sophomore Derek Hwang, wowed the audience. Regardless of the vibe, Photonix set it.
Next up was RhythM tap ensemble, led by directors Engineering senior Gabi Tibbenham and Art & Design senior Alyssa Huang. Their loudly tapping feet enhanced their eclectic playlist as they transformed tap dancing into something new and exciting. While their feet kept a precise rhythm, they were never stoic, adding fun, smooth hip-hop moves into the tap footwork. Opening with a standout performance of “Pump It” by The Black Eyed Peas choreographed by LSA senior Jackie Hillman, RhythM stayed true to their title as they hit every beat with perfect accuracy. As they closed the set with “Time of Our Lives” by Ne-Yo and Pitbull, they had everyone on their feet, attempting to imitate their perfect taps and emulate their smooth sense of rhythm.
Flowdom, a team that the announcers said “lets originality thrive,” lived up to their introduction. Each crew member stunned the audience as they moved through an exceedingly diverse playlist, setting the mood with every song. Their moves were original and fit each song, from the smooth R&B hit “Hrs & Hrs,” with slow and smooth choreography by LSA sophomore Jaa Chaichanawanich, to Bia’s “Besito” with a hopping routine from LSA senior Lillian Ku. The team’s floorwork and footwork showed their flexibility and skill as they lit up the dance floor. Their choreography turned every song into a story, and they brought the audience with them in every move.
Dance 2XS’s catchphrase, “don’t mess,” ran true throughout their intense performance. The U-M chapter of the international hip-hop team came on strong in a precise yet flowing routine with almost geometric formations. They rushed out with Babushka Boi, choreographed by artistic directors Music, Theatre & Dance sophomore Mya Waple and senior Bella Payne, and led by Music, Theatre & Dance senior Rileigh Goldsmith. In their A$AP Mob medley, they opened each song with a perfect lyrical dance and lip sync imitation of the “Mob Member.” Their cohesive choreography was athletic and skillful, and their partner moves almost seemed like an allusively impossible handshake. The team was meticulously choreographed, moving as a single unit in stunning patterns and manipulating their individual and collective bodies with every beat. Yet they still seemed to have the best time as they lit up the stage with lip-syncing and powerful moves. As “Plain Jane” blared from the speakers, the audience blared even louder.
Female Gayo, the Korean-American Student Association’s official K-pop dance team, felt like a live girl group performance. With eight members led by Engineering senior Debbie Dong and Music, Theatre & Dance sophomore Irene Kim, each dancer owned the stage as they performed combinations of popular choreography and music videos for upbeat K-pop anthems “Hype Boy” and “Pink Venom.” They brought energy across the stage with their unique moves, ending their performance in a classic power pose. The performance was like a concert, and the audience was their new loyal fanbase.
Impact, the night’s only jazz and contemporary group, took the floor next. The team transformed current pop and hip-hop hits into stunning contemporary performances choreographed by LSA sophomores Leila Ilkhanoff and junior Brooke Tazzia, and led by LSA senior Emily Nagy. They went from minutes-long ballerina twirls and pirouettes to sharp floorwork and footwork. They brought a modern yet classic flair to every song, with hip-hop interspersed subtly throughout the performance as they kept a stunning rhythm. After a stunning minutes-long twirl, the group bounded onto the stage with powerful energy to “Sissy That Walk.” Their creativity shocked and inspired with every step and turn.
When Funktion took the stage in Bieber-purple sweatpants, the crowd was ready for the all-male brotherhood to own the stage. They immediately endeared the crowd with a perfect dance rendition of Big Time Rush’s “Boyfriend,” choreographed by LSA senior Luca Kato. They had perfect swagger and flow that defined the boy band era. In a precise routine to Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble,” choreographed by LSA sophomore Omar Fan and LSA junior Amer FK, Funktion returned to a more serious tone, showing off their skill, sense of rhythm and team cohesion. The crowd roared for “Betty (Get Money)” by Yung Gravy, choreographed dramatically by Engineering senior Darren Wang, a perfectly fitting song showing that goofy can still mean incredibly musical.
The Bar Night hosts, donning all-white sweat suits, returned to close out the night. The crowd roared. They performed a complex and stunning routine to Doja Cat’s “Vegas” by Contorer, Sclamberg, Music, Theatre & Dance freshman Matthew Zide and LSA freshman Abigail Winner that wowed at every powerful step. They started their performance to Nicki Minaj’s “Super Freaky Girl,” with a pole solo by LSA junior Daphne Matter and LSA senior and Daily staffer Swara Ramaswamy. As they jumped into the center of the floor, they joined an electric team with a stunning and high-paced routine for the show’s final minutes. EnCore, with distinct confidence and a dominant team identity, owned the dance floor to end the night.
At the end of the night, the crowds flooded the stage, and the club turned into a full-blown dance party with the University’s top dancers and dance fanatics. And, yes, we were all asking for an EnCore.
Daily Arts Writer Kaya Ginsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.