When you think of Penn State, the first thing that comes to mind probably isn’t b-boys and b-girls, but Penn State’s own Raw Aesthetic Movement (RAM Squad) is trying to change that. RAM Squad will host its 11th annual Rhythm Spotlight this Saturday from 3-11 p.m in Heritage Hall. But the event is far more than the dance recital you were probably in/forced to watch at the age of eight. Instead, it will bring together dancers from around the country to celebrate street styles of dance which have revolutionized dance over the past 50 years.
Heritage Hall will be like you have never seen before — no stage, no seats, just a spotlight and dancing that originated off the stage in the streets. Rhythm Spotlight began in 2003 as a Bollywood style competition that brought together other Bollywood style groups to compete, but it was the hip hops acts that performed during intermission that stole the show. After that first year, the event was handed over to the newly formed RAM Squad. This is the first year that it will take place in Heritage Hall, and it is not just because Alumni Hall was booked.
“We moved the event to Heritage Hall because we wanted a more circular atmosphere. When we dance, we like to dance in circles, called cyphers, like you normally see at a club, on TV or in a movie,” said RAM Squad president, Derek Mon. “We are having the dancers compete on the floor because we want everyone to feel connected to each other. If you are standing right next to a guy that has been dancing for years, you can just shake his hand and say hi. The intimidation isn’t there.”
Another stand out feature of the competition will be the judges, emcee, and DJ, some of whom are internationally known throughout the dance community and are being flown in specifically for the event. The events during the spotlight will feature a 1v1 (one versus one) all styles competition, where basically anything goes, as well as a 2v2 (two versus two) Bboy/Bgirl competition — the traditional head spinning boombox dancing style your probably thinking of when you hear RAM Squad. It certainly doesn’t take an expert to appreciate the level of dance expected to be showcased at the competition, but you can check out the judges to get and idea of the level of dancing; b-boy Omen, b-boy Napalm, b-boy Moy, Hurrikane, Ziyin, Riceball, MC Voltron, and DJ Fleg.
Competitors are expected to be coming from all over the East coast, from Connecticut to Maryland, and especially dance hot spots like New York City, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.
“We hare having the event free for all Penn State University Park students and staff because we are really doing this for the Penn State community. A lot of us in RAM Squad come from different backgrounds — we have had experience with dance cultures in different areas and we want to bring that together,” said Mon. “When you come to RAM you see so many diverse people. We are trying to encourage as many people as possible to come to see what dancing is like outside of Penn State.”