Day in the life of De La Cru: practice to performance

Michelle Rolf, staff reporter

Dancing  in baggy jeans and Nike kicks, they stomp the floor to the beat of a blaring hip-hop remix. Flailing their arms and flipping their hair back and forth, they moved in sync with the rhythm, creating a sophisticated combination of hip-hop and krumping, the highly-energetic, up-tempo street dance.

Performing at various events throughout the year, De La Cru features an expressive style of dance. Much collaboration and practice goes into each routine to get to the final product.

Senior captains Melissa Flaxman and Sierra Smith, along with coaches Kimberly Kiraly and Patricia Moulakelis, lead De La Cru.

“We have the chance to make the dance what we want,” Smith said. “We have a lot more control over what we want to present to the school.”

De La Cru starts the dance process with music. It’s a group effort to choose the songs, with members bringing in music to which they want to choreograph. Then the group votes on the music they most want to hear, but according Smith, the captains and the coaches are the ones who make the final decisions regarding the music.

Based on the style of the song and what each member is capable of, the captains choose who will choreograph the dances.

“Upperclassmen typically step up and make up some of the dance,” junior Melanie McNulty said. “[But] choreographing is also open to underclassmen.”

De La Cru practices after school every day in the West Cafeteria, and according to McNulty, being in the group is a major time commitment.

In order for the whole group to learn the dance, the choreographers first have to teach the basic movements and then move onto details like facial expressions. According to Flaxman, the majority of their practices are spent either teaching or working out the “kinks.”

“Dancing is a sport, and it needs practice like any other athletic team to improve and work well as a unit,” Flaxman said. “[…] The key thing about hip hop is that individual dancers do nothing if they can’t come together as a group and perform strongly together.”

In the last two years, De La Cru began a process of auditions before each show to ensure that the group is well represented.

“If they don’t know the dance, [then] they’re not in the performance,” Smith explained.

According to Flaxman, this change has helped the overall dynamic of the group.

“What is different with De La Cru is that we give everyone the chance to show what they’re capable of and then get put into spots,” Flaxman said.

With 14 new members this year, Moulakelis believes that they have the ability to overcome the lack of experience.

“[It’s] a very young, very inexperienced team but they’re very hard working [and] it seems to pull together,” Moulakelis explained.