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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Evolution Dance Crew’s Saturday (R)Evolution

Photo of the Evo crew.
Photo of the Evo crew.

Evolution Dance Crew (Evo) presented their Spring 2023 show, “Step-Up (R)Evolution,” which included dance elements from Afro-Beats, Dancehall, Soca and Bachata styles, on Saturday, April 22 in Wilson Hall. 

The night began with an homage to the street-dance film franchise “Step-Up” in the form of a short 7-minute documentary featuring the crew’s current members. The opening screen read “Born from a Boombox,” which for some represents a lifelong love for dance and for others learning to dance for the first time with Evo. For most, though, it is about building a community that is welcoming of different bodies and finds joy in exchanging culture and learning from others. 

As the lights dimmed, co-presidents Amina Matavia ’23 and John Bermudez ’24 introduced the origins of Evo. Evo was founded in 2014 by a group of students of color who felt excluded by the dance scene at Middlebury. They created their own troupe welcoming all bodies and backgrounds, a mission that the group maintains today. Matavia and Bermudez explained that they were “stepping-up” to their roots this year, not only in technique but also in diversity and numbers. 

“As a crew [we] grow and get better but also stay true to our roots which is to be welcoming to dancers of all backgrounds,” Matavia said.

This spring, the group had 54 active members and choreographed 29 pieces in the hour and half long show. This included 12 main pieces, 14 transitions, one piece starring only new dancers, one senior piece and one group piece. 

The growing size of Evo has changed the atmosphere of the troupe for its members and audiences. Building the size of the group has allowed the troupe to further embody its mission of inclusivity and diversity. Casandra Dormeus ’25, a  dancer who became part of the crew two months ago, recognized this inclusivity and wanted to join because she thought the Evo performance last year proved that the organization is for all bodies and diasporas. 

Borrowing from the theme of the show, many pieces incorporated complex foot-work, and a couple of pieces featured dance battles. The cross-cultural exchange of music and dance styles was a testament to the tight-knit community that they built when Evo was created.

Dormeaus said her favorite piece to perform was one of the dance-battle pieces “Soca vs. Dancehall.” This dance battle-inspired piece was choreographed by Leigha Francis ’25 and Ashley Townsend ’25. Francis drew inspiration for her choreography from her own Jamaican culture. “I'm trying to bring a piece of home here and share that with people. Whenever I need to de-stress or miss home I just throw on some Jamaican music,” she said.

Before the finale, Evo seniors performed a piece titled “We Are All In This Together.” The show concluded with a heartfelt goodbye, as 17 graduating seniors were a part of the spring show. As the lights slowly turned back on, many audience members rushed to congratulate their friends on stage, flowers in hand. The night ended with laughter, tears, gratitude and Evo love.