Hip Hop Dance: EQHO – a taster session
Welcome Week is one of the most exciting weeks of university life. You meet loads of new people, move into your new home, and get involved with loads of activities across campus. It’s all about trying new things and stepping out of your comfort zone.
I am the secretary of Hip Hop Dance: EQHO, a dance society with one of the friendliest, most engaging and supportive community of dancers from all different backgrounds and abilities.
When I stepped into my first EQHO class this time last year, it was a moment that changed my life. I had never experienced anything quite like it. I used to socially dance Ballroom and Latin styles with my dad as my partner in a local community hall where the average age of people in class was 60. Nothing could prepare me for the energy and vibrancy of a group of young people dedicated to enjoying their craft and supporting others in their growth as dancers. The execs who ran EQHO in my first year of university mean a lot to me. They were the ones who taught me to dance. They created an environment in which I quickly turned from an awkward, clumsy and shy novice into someone full of self-confidence who can go out there and give it my all, even when I still forget the steps. I chose to stand as an exec this year because I want the new intake of freshers to feel that energy too. The society also won Best Society at the SU’s Society Awards last academic year, which goes to show just how amazing the community at EQHO is.
Going to that first class is the scariest step. My biggest fear is uncertainty. Not knowing how something works or how an event is going to go terrifies me. I imagine many people also feel the same, especially if you’ve never attended a dance class. So I’m going to explain now what a typical EQHO dance is like:
Classes will begin with about 10-15 minutes for you to settle into the studio and chat with the other members. We leave our bags at the side of the room. If you’ve come straight from lectures this is a good time to run to the bathroom and get changed into something more comfortable. We don’t have a dress code, but we recommend you wear comfortable clothing that you can easily move and stretch in e.g. joggers, leggings, loose-fitting t-shirt, trainers. Be aware that the dance studio will often get hot and sweaty, and bring plenty of water. Literally no one cares what you look like. The sweatier you are, the harder you’re working and we love that. I didn’t see any of my EQHO friends in smart clothes until our formal banquet in term 2.
Next, the teacher will lead a warm up. This will often involve some cardio exercises to help get your heart pumping, some basic movements, isolations and grooves, as well as a lot of stretching. This is incredibly important to help prevent injury, as well as to loosen you up for the class ahead. The warming up process is pretty tiring, so is followed by a water break before we gather back to begin the choreography.
The main body of each EQHO class is an original choreography created the teacher. A different choreo is taught each class, and our teachers are mostly exec members. About once or twice a term we also have professional choreographers come to visit, where they will teach classes in a manner similar to that of the big London dance studios. Our regular weekly classes vary in difficulty, with intermediate classes being taught on Mondays and all level classes (which are better suited to beginners) being taught on Thursdays. The teacher will progress through the choreo at a pace suitable to the demands of the class. It is normal for beginners to struggle remembering choreography and that only comes with practise, but if you are struggling with a particular step or move, be sure to ask questions. We are here to help you improve.
Near the end of class, you will be split off into smaller groups to give you more space to dance. You will get to drill the choreo a few times with and without the teacher. Then, if you want to be professionally filmed, we will call for volunteers and you can come out and dance in a small group. Also feel free to ask another student or exec to film you on your own phone at any point when in smaller groups. Having a video is good to help you pinpoint mistakes in your dancing, and also so that you can look back and see your progress over time. I used to be really camera shy before joining EQHO, but now I don’t even notice it’s there. There is absolutely no pressure though, and if you don’t want to be filmed we will respect that.
At the end of class the teacher will do a solo performance, which will be followed by any announcements from the execs, and then that’s the end of class. Also, fun side note, if anyone throws their shoes when the teacher is performing, it’s not rude, but a strange way of showing support (I had to have someone explain it to me when I first joined).
And that’s it, my guide to EQHO classes. Generally this format will apply to any dance class you attend.
I can only emphasise how much I have adored my time with EQHO so far. My friends can testify that it’s all I ever talk about.
Still, I am my own worst critic. Sometimes I stand in front of the mirror in the studio and struggle to look at myself, but never do I look at anyone else in class and see any fault in them, regardless of their ability. Dancing takes bravery, to overcome your own self-judgements and insecurities. In an EQHO class you will find nothing but support. We will scream for you and cheer and give you all the energy because anyone who can stand in a studio and perform deserves it.
If you’re interested in coming to an EQHO class, please check our social medias for more information (Instagram @hiphopdanceeqho is where we post most often), and/or buy membership through the Student Union to be signed up for our weekly email with details of our upcoming schedules.
Hope to see you in class!