By Oliver Price, news staff
As DJ Mesgo grinned in anticipation and punched a button on his soundboard, a heavy hip-hop track echoed through the room, reverberating through the bodies of the dancers and manifesting in dance.
The Northeastern University (NU) Breakers, a breakdance club, hosted the fourth annual Mock Jam at the Fenway Center, where dancers from all over Boston gathered to share their passion for dance.
“The purpose of a mock jam is to bring out people who may be nervous or intimidated to go to a larger event,” Alejandro Ramon, member of the NU Breakers, event judge and senior electrical engineering major, said.
A mock jam is influenced by larger, more competitive dance events called jams. Participants compete in battles that allow them to showcase a dance to a song in the first stage called the preliminary round, or prelims. From the initial cohort, 16 dancers are chosen to dance-battle one-on-one, with the winners going against each other until a champion is determined.
The dancers brought together a wide range of street dance styles, from krumping, an aggressive energetic style, to popping, a more robotic and choppy style.
According to Ramon, the judges looked above all for dancers who were able to respond to the music. The crowd exploded in excitement whenever the dancers were able to execute a move on beat, demonstrating control and awareness.
“Battles are an exchange of expression,” Ramon said. “One person’s interpretation of dance compared to another.”
Wil Hsie, 24, NU computer science graduate student, competed in the battles and became one of the top 16 dancers.
“I see the mock jam as a place I could experiment,” Hsie said. “I’m going to focus on one point of energy and see where that takes me.”
As a variety of electronic music and rap filled the venue, the dancers amicably high-fived each other after dancing in the center of a formed circle.
“Everyone was vibing together,” Kyung Baek, president of NU Breakers and junior computer science and cognitive psychology major, said.
Dancers lined up for prelims, each taking their turn in a 45-second showcase.
“A mock jam is in a way a scrimmage, but in a way, you get that experience as there are still legitimate dancers,” Baek said. “It’s a nice way to experience what we are about, what battling is about.”
Hsie said that NU Breakers’ goal is to act as a resource for interested people to come by and get a feel for what it is like to perform.
“The whole time, the energy was there, which is the most important thing in a jam,” Ramon said. “The point of any event is the vibe, [and] this jam caught that exactly.”
Photo by Sharon Chan