After an extremely rigorous and difficult practice season, Synergy Hip Hop Dance Company took the stage at 2018 Showdown. The competition was fierce and the stakes were high, but the group’s long hours and hard work paid off—the 23 person team won the massive competition against the odds.
Synergy is currently celebrating its 15th anniversary and Mariah Davis, Synergy’s Outreach Coordinator and MCAS ’20, attributes the group’s longevity to its strong traditions. Like most groups on campus, Synergy has a strong sense of heritage that gets handed down year after year.
“We are so fortunate that a lot of the things do get passed down [to us],” Davis said. “We have 15 years of alumni working with us.”
About 20 of the alumni made an appearance during Friday night’s All Aboard Syn Express performance, the group’s 15th anniversary show. Alumni from the Boston and New York areas came together to collaborate on a never-before-seen performance, one that was even a surprise to current Synergy members. The group’s founder even traveled all the way from California with her family to see the show.
Alumni involvement is especially important to Synergy. The close-knit family continues to grow and thrive even after graduation, and it really shapes the group’s social dynamic year after year.
“Our alumni love to come and visit us,” Davis said. “They’re always reaching out, they want to meet the new members.”
There’s no doubt that every member of Synergy is giving this season their all. Team members have to set aside time to choose songs and a theme, choreograph the sets, and rehearse. The group practiced every single day this semester, including weekends, to make sure the show turned out perfect.
“Everyone plays a part,” Davis said. “Some people are writing the script, others editing, it’s a group effort. It really takes all 23 of us to be on our top game to get the job done.”
This collaborative spirit that fuels Synergy forward is mirrored in the BC dance community as a whole. Dance Organization of Boston College (DOBC), Boston College Dance Ensemble (BCDE), Females Incorporating Sisterhood Through Step (F.I.S.T.S.), and Fuego Del Corazón all made appearances at Friday night’s show.
“It was cool to meet and work with members of a different team,” said Elena Akins, the social media coordinator of Fuego Del Corazón and MCAS ’19, in a text message. “It was also cool to try out a different style of dance—while definitely challenging, it was really rewarding when it started to come together.”
While the dance community at BC is often extremely competitive, especially around Showdown, it’s important to remember that the dancers are all friends with people from opposing teams and often have something to learn from them as well. Some of the most interesting performances of the show were the collaborations between Synergy and the other groups, which encapsulated the diverse nature of the groups’ abilities. When the various groups performed together, there was a tangible electricity in the air—it was clear everyone onstage was excited to be doing something different, and had fun doing it.
Synergy commands the respect of BC’s dance teams, especially after winning Showdown in 2018.
“Synergy is definitely a big name in the BC dance community,” Akins said. “They put together great sets that are really fun to watch and are so good at what they do.”
The sense of family not only within Synergy but among all the dance teams is an important one. We all gravitate toward those who are relatable, and the dance community is no different.
“It’s nice to be around people who understand what we go through as dancers and learn something from them,” Davis said. “And it’s always interesting seeing our dancers performing in a different style from another team.”
Collaboration and partnership is always important, but winning is too. Showdown is a hallmark event in BC’s arts community, and teams put their blood, sweat, and tears into preparation for the massive competition.
“Every year our goal is to win,” Davis said. “We are always thinking about what people want to see, what they’re not going to be expecting, what’s trendy or what will make a statement, but it’s always something that everyone at BC can relate to.”
One of the most integral parts of a team is its evolution. Every year, a spirited group of new dancers has the opportunity to define the team’s success. As soon as the school year starts, the group works hard to attract BC’s best, targeting freshmen and upperclassmen who have yet to join a dance team. The recruiting process begins over the summer, when Synergy members create an audition video, fliers, and posters. They hang a big banner near the entrance to Upper Campus and try to get the word out at activity fairs. Even though the team is freshman-heavy, it still attracts upperclassmen as well.
“We try to have a balance,” Davis said. “But sometimes we get new juniors, even seniors.”
This all ties back into the group’s uniqueness and diversity. Members try out different dance styles and collaborate with other teams and are always open to trying something new. Even though Synergy is a hip-hop group, some members are lyrical or tap dancers. Some are even first-time dancers. This inclusivity of different skill levels, backgrounds, and experiences is what makes Synergy stand out
“We have a great relationship with other dance groups,” Davis said. “The dance community is so close-knit and tight. It’s a really great network to have, and we get really excited when we get to showcase our work with other teams.”
While the broader community is important to the team, this weekend’s show was a reminder that the members of Synergy are truly a self-described family (they call themselves the “Syn-fam”). Their love for each other and passion for dance shines through in every moment of their performances—it is evident that they enjoy every dance they share. This love of dance does not die after graduation, however, as the alumni looked like they were having an especially great time onstage.
“We spend a lot of time together grinding every day, so we really become a family working and laughing together,” Davis said. “We always have 22 other people on our side—it can be hard to find a big, loving family with no exceptions or exclusions.”
The group is excited about the future and cherishes the time they have together now. They are passionate about dance and performing together.
“This show was more to me than just a performance for the Boston College community,” said Nghi Ho, MCAS ’19. “It felt like something that was truly for us, for my teammates: both present and future.”
A lot can change in 15 years, but then again, a lot can stay the same. When asked what Synergy’s 30 year anniversary will look like, Davis had to think for a second. Definitely some more Showdown wins under their belt, and maybe incorporate more collaborations as BC’s dance community grows closer. But in terms of the bigger picture, Synergy has big plans.
“I hope Synergy continues to blossom,” Davis said. “I hope the 30th anniversary is 30 times as great as this one, and that the alumni community will continue to grow into all the corners of the world. I hope we’ll be united for our love for our Syn-fam and our love for dance.”
Featured image by Celine Lim / Heights Editor