Dancers are known for their talent, passion, endurance, and work ethic. Each of these qualities are necessary for success in this particular field. Not only is it competitive, but it requires hours of training and they often have to experience rejection. While not every dancer grows up to dance professionally, it still becomes an integral part of their being. In fact, Saya Takegami is the embodiment of all this. She’s one of the dancers in McGill University’s incredibly talented hip hop troupe, Urban Groove, and on Saturday they performed at their year-end showcase entitled, “Who Killed the Beat?”. After dealing with rough beginnings at the audition last year, she learned to find her way.
Erica for Her Campus: When did you start dancing and what initially attracted you to dance, particularly hip hop?
Saya: I started dancing in grade seven in Tokyo. I went see a dance showcase performed by a dance club in my school and I was so intrigued by the atmosphere, performance, costumes, lighting, and cheers from the audience that I was compelled to join.
E: Many view dance as an art form and a form of expression. What does dance mean to you personally?
S: Dance is pure joy for me. It brings out different sides of me that I wouldn’t have even known if it weren’t for dance.
E: How did you get involved with Urban Groove? What was the audition process like and what did you feel during it?
S: I signed up for an audition at the street fest in my first year. The audition was a train wreck. I couldn’t remember the choreography at all and was intimidated by everyone in the room. But I got the call back later that night and practiced until 2 AM in my dorm room. The audition the next morning was a lot better, as I knew the dance already and was able to express myself more.
E: Are you involved in choreographing any of the pieces?
S: No, I haven’t choreographed for this showcase and I have so much respect for all the choreographers. There is so much involved in the process like choosing the song, dance routine, costume, lighting, and it takes up so much time to complete.
E: Dancers train for hours every day. How many times do you guys practice every week? What do you do to prepare for shows especially this one?
S: We have practice every Sunday from 2pm to 5pm for all the dancers, and that’s where we practice the introduction and the end. On top of that, we have extra practices throughout the week depending on how many pieces we’re in. Extra practices are usually two hours long and we learn the choreography, formations, and transitions, and most importantly, we clean up our routine by dancing over and over.
E: What’s your favourite piece from the showcase and why?
S: This is a tough one because I absolutely loved all of them. But the most meaningful piece for me was choreography taught by our lovely graduating student, Deanna. Five girls including myself danced to a speech by Malala Yousafzai, a young courageous Pakistani girl who stood up for girls’ education and was targeted by the Taliban.
E: What do you think people underestimate or misunderstand about hip hop the most?
S: Because of the aggressiveness and cursing? I don’t know. But I’d like to think that I look a little more gangster when I’m dancing to hip hop.
E: What is the best thing about Urban Groove?
S: The amount of love we have for each other. We’re a diverse group of people coming from such different backgrounds, but at the end of the day, we’re one big family full of dancing, laughter, and love.