Jumpin’ with the Cuties

As I walked into the first floor of Spencer to watch the dance group Nuthin’ But Cuties (NBC) rehearse, I expected to see a group of dancers who worked on perfecting their routines with lots of concentration but not much discussion. What I saw instead was a lively group of individuals, each of whom had something to contribute to the choreography and the overall spirit of the routine. I felt almost guilty for pulling three of the group’s members to the side in order to learn more about how they make it all work.

“We use everyone’s input when we decide on the music and the choreography,” said Natalie Stevens ’03, the president of the group. “Having a president and a vice president is just a matter of structure, but we all decide on things together,” added vice president Nikiya Asamoah ’03.

Then, as I saw them fill every beat of the music with rhythmic movement, I could tell that each of them was excited about what they were doing. NBC started off as a group of seven women that could not even come up with a name. Then, someone just threw in the name NBC, and after the group’s first performance at the Black Student Union convocation last year, the name stuck with them. Now the group has grown to 20 members, taking in many students with no previous dance experience. NBC is happy to have several men joining the troupe, proving that dance is not an exclusively female art form.

“We are surprised that what started as so small can turn out so big,” Stevens said with a smile. Billy Green ’03, who does most of the choreographing for the group, added that NBC wants to reach out to everyone by incorporating rap, break dance, salsa and merengue to the general hip-hop style of the group. The dancers also aim to show in movement the history of hip hop as it developed throughout the years.

To pursue these goals, the NBC members meet three times a week for two hours and rehearse daily when a show is coming up. “Dancing for NBC is also a serious work-out,” Asamoah said, and I am more than convinced that this is so after seeing what Green called “a very short warm-up.”

“Sometimes I just tell them ‘Do one split! And if you can’t, just push!’” Green admitted. But the group seems to be enjoying the hard work. As I watch them move with the rhythm, I keep thinking that Destiny’s Child would be happily surprised to see their song “Jumpin’ Jumpin” being interpreted by these dancers.

The troupe is together not just during practice or on stage. Its members take a lot of classes together, have their own parties, and rely on each other a lot. “We really do a lot of fun stuff together and we support each other like a family,” said Stevens as Green and Asamoah nodded in synchronization.

The group is also entirely funded by the students themselves, so this year, in addition to performing a lot both on and off campus, it will be on the look out for some sponsorship.

As the three dancers go back into the room to continue rehearsing, I slid in with them, watching and taking pictures. They moved through a new salsa routine with lots of smiles and spirit.

Watch NBC perform at the VISTA convocation this Friday and I’m sure you’ll feel the same.