By Anya Doshi
Editor’s note: This news story is part of a collaboration between The Herring and AUC’s journalism course. The story was entirely reported, written, edited, and fact checked by members of the journalism course. Some material may have been altered by The Herring’s editors to fit its style guidelines.
–On Saturday, April 22, dancers took center stage at Café Oerknal in Science Park to compete at the annual University College Student Representatives the Netherlands (UCSRN) Tournament. This year’s UCSRN dance competition drew teams of six dancers representing seven university colleges. The pressure was on for SlayUC, the dance team representing host university AUC, which has won the dance competition consecutively since 2015. Four dancers of SlayUC would be competing for the first time and two dancers would have their final opportunity to represent AUC before they graduate.
The SlayUC dancers dressed in black jersey crop tops were the last group to take the stage. They entered from either side of the stage and paused to look at the judges before taking their positions. The room fell silent with the start of a reading by Ruby Dee of ‘Phenomenal Woman’ by Maya Angelou, the first track which began the SlayUC routine.
In 2015, when AUC had no existing dance group to compete at the UCSRN tournament, a request for dancers resulted in the formation of a group that eventually won gold. The following year, however, graduated dancers and a dancer leaving the group created a vacuum and a need for someone to take over. Lance Bosch, a first-year Science major at the time, made a decision to dedicate himself to this project. According to Bosch, the most salient reason why he chose to build up SlayUC was the extent to which he grew from his own dance background. Bosch trained extensively since he was 14 years old, performing for renowned dance companies and at competitions which allowed him to travel to China, Korea, and Japan. “I just wanted to continue that growth for myself whilst also facilitating that growth in others,” said Bosch. Bosch began leading open classes once a week either at CREA or in the common rooms of the dorms, consisting of warm ups, exercises, technique work and choreography.
The preparation for this year’s tournament began in the spring semester with rehearsals taking place twice a week for two hours. The piece was choreographed by Bosch in parts and he asked the other dancers for advice. “It was an organic process,” said Bosch. He commenced the process of forming the team for the competition which allows for only six competitors. By February, he had only finalized five of the dancers. “It’s not about who’s the best dancer, it’s about who has the best chemistry with the group,” said Bosch. By March, the six students who were finalized to compete at the tournament were first year, Humanities major, Martina Minkova, first year, Science major, Marron Loods, first year, Social Science major, Didi Altena, third year, Social Science major, Diana Ghidanac, first year, Humanities major, Angelien Ponsioen and Lance Bosch.
Their final rehearsal the evening before the main event was held in a common room in the dorms. The dancers worked on their entrance and exit from the stage, and then ran through the routine in groups of two, while the others meticulously observed them in order to give their teammates constructive feedback. The dancers said they felt more excited than nervous. “I am more nervous for the other teams than us, we have practiced so much and worked so hard,” said Loods. After watching themselves back in a recording, their final rehearsal ended with a group hug.
On the day of the competition, the final group called to the stage was SlayUC. The audience applauded during ‘Phenomenal Woman’ by Maya Angelou read by Ruby Dee, which turned into cheering during ‘Flawless’ by Beyoncé. SlayUC was the only team to incorporate stunts into their performance, resulting in the audience having to hold their breath before reacting. After their approximately 5-minute-long performance, the dancers held their final positions for longer than anticipated due to the audience chanting ‘SlayUC’ in chorus.
Finally, it was announced that for the third year in a row, SlayUC won first place and retained their title. The dancers were called to the stage to receive their gold medals. AUC second year, Humanities student Sophie Smeets, who worked on the organization team for UCSRN, said: “To see them perform like this in front of every UC and then win is so satisfying.” Bosch, who is graduating this year, hopes that the SlayUC community that has been built will be continued. “I’m most happy about how far we’ve come as a team, much more so than the actual victory,” said Bosch. He continued, “I’m so, so, so proud of them and I could never express how much I truly love my girls.”