“Started From the Bottom, Now They’re Here”: West Ranch Hip Hop

Jaeeun Park, Staff Writer

   Cheers and yells ring through the school gymnasium. It’s the morning of a football game day, and the West Ranch Hip-Hop team is performing at the rally to increase school spirit. Music pounds through the speakers as the team dances and showcases their skills.

   Until this year, the student dancers were only a part of a school club. Though the group was started as a club in 2012, it has recently become an official athletic team and class at West Ranch. Currently advised by Coach Garcia and headed by President Samantha Serrano, the team has performed at rallies and football games and soon will even perform at basketball games. 

   They’ve been met with positive responses from students and faculty. Their routines bring the crowd’s energy up and have them cheering at spirit events.

   Vice President Emmanuel Lewis thinks the club was made into a team by the administration because they “saw how much effort was being put into rallies and practices. [The members] were practicing like it was a sport, which one day it would be at the school”.

   The team is made up of a variety of students. Seniors and freshmen come together, with different backgrounds in dance: some with years of hip-hop experience under their belt and some who have never stepped foot in a dance studio outside of the class. 

   Members help each other work on perfecting rhythm and flow as well as forge friendships in the process. Everyone is present to improve themselves, no matter where they are in terms of ability.

   Lewis has been dancing since he was five years old. He recalled, “I remember my dad and mom showing me dance videos and movies. I just wanted to do what I saw and I ended up just falling in love with dance.” He used to participate in competitions and now teaches workshops at dance studios from time to time. 

   Senior Bryce Blackwell has been dancing in fourth grade and has been in the club since sophomore year. He joined the club initially out of curiosity but found an unexpected family of devoted students that shared a common interest in dance. 

   All the students have their love of hip-hop in common, and the positive atmosphere contributes to how tight-knit the group became soon after its creation. Everyone tries to bring others up and help them out of whatever shell they may have when it comes to performing.

   Blackwell emphasizes that there is “So much love and support. The bonding is definitely a lot stronger this year. Everyone is devoted to the team and dance and wants to do every piece possible. [The members] love to be [themselves] in this class.”

   When not preparing for rallies, the team works on team-building exercises and helps the members out of their comfort zones by freestyling, where dancers improvise their moves on the spot with no set choreography. The team cheers for every person to improve the confidence they should have in front of a crowd. The more of it there is, the better performances are. 

   Officers of the club will come up with new choreography every rally and possibly choose a member’s original dance to feature as well. They then teach the choreography to the rest of the team over the course of a class and hold auditions to pick the best dancers to eventually perform the piece in a rally. The team then contributes to brainstorming formations to further enhance the quality of a performance. The classes leading to rally day are spent “cleaning” and trying to make moves as accurate and fluid as possible while adding some personal flairs.

   When asked how she felt about the team, spectator and West Ranch student Veronika Pirog commented, “The hip-hop team motivates me to go to school rallies, and I love watching my friends perform! You can really see the hours of practice paying off as well as all the fun they’re having.”

   With all the effort that is poured into a rally, it makes sense why the school would recognize the team as official. Watch them perform at the next rally on Feb. 28!