Last Saturday night, hip-hop dance group Nothing But Cuties (NBC) and a cappella group Good Question (GQ) gave a rare joint performance in Greylock Dining Hall. An informal event, the 10:30 p.m. performance felt less like a show at the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance and more like a typical Greylock dance party. The audience packed the space so tightly that it actually limited NBC’s movements. Lighting and costumes were basic, keeping the atmosphere minimal and focused. NBC showed off its signature energetic, narrative style in a short series of dances choreographed to popular hits, while GQ decided to set a mellower tone in between dances. Being early in the semester, NBC chose to showcase a number of classic dances, with the intention of unveiling their latest pieces at their spring performance later this year.
The opening number “Monster” featured a select group of NBC’s more senior members, dancing to a mash-up of “I’m a Monster” by The Ranger$ and “The Zone” by The Weeknd featuring Drake. As with all NBC dances, “Monster” was student-choreographed, in this case by Randall Otis ’15. The moves for “I’m a Monster” were aggressive and dynamic, even combative, while movements during the “The Zone” portion of the piece featured greater subtlety. Variance of rhythm played a much greater role, with extremely fast movements tempered with unexpectedly slower sections. “Monster” ended with macho chest pops, giving that expressive flair that is always to be expected from NBC.
After “Monster,” GQ took to the stage to sing their a cappella rendition of Jackson Browne’s “Doctor My Eyes.” Featuring soloist Daniel Potter ’16, the classic song, though well-executed, felt somewhat anemic when compared so directly to NBC’s high-energy performance. Then, GQ continued the show with soloist Sarah Sanders ’14 singing “Both Sides Now” by Joni Mitchell. The piece fit well with “Doctor My Eyes,” in that they both had a slow, classic 60s groove. Sanders’ soft, soprano voice drove the audience into utter silence and then proceeded to grow in intensity as it filled the silence with the melancholy notes of the classic Mitchell tune.
NBC then returned to the stage with its next dance, “Skin.” It was set to the eponymous song by Rihanna and was choreographed by Alex Ting ’15. Featuring almost exclusively the women of NBC, the piece served as a showcase for their talent. The choreography was nothing short of steamy. This sensual piece was a clear celebration of women’s bodies and sexuality. The dance opened with a burlesque-inspired procession in which the dancers entered the stage slowly from either side, eventually folding into one another like the petals of a flower. In an interesting twist, it also borrowed from contemporary dance, serving as a break from the hip-hop theme of the evening. There were graceful sashays and even the occasional smooth, rounded kick. “Skin” was a definite crowd pleaser, as many students took the opportunity to scream their friends’ names even louder than usual, bringing the energy level in the room even higher.
GQ took the stage once more to sing their final two songs of the night. In a more modern twist, Amir Hay ’15 sang the solo to Modest Mouse’s “Ocean Breathes Salty.” This song certainly had a faster pace than their earlier numbers, yet still possessed an unmistakably somber tone. The use of unique percussive sounds in this piece added interest to what could have otherwise sapped the energy from the crowd. The a cappella group chose the Beatles’ classic “Blackbird” as their closing number. Sanders sang a solo once again, and was joined by Brice Green ’15 and Hannah Wang ’13. A beautiful song to be sure, it continued the theme of solemn music from the group, which was slightly confusing in conjunction with the high energy of NBC. It was certainly an emotional note on which to end.
NBC’s third and final dance, choreographed by Zorelly Cepeda ’14, was set to yet another mash-up. This time, a mixture of Willow Smith’s “Fireball,” Usher and Parrell’s “Twisted” and Lil Jon’s “Outta Your Mind” served as the backdrop for the group’s dance. As befitted the finale, every member of NBC got their chance to dance in this number. The piece was fun and dynamic, with energetic dance moves and plenty of smiles from the performers. By far the longest dance, the choreography varied widely across the three songs. As “Fireball” played, quick, precise movements dominated as the dancers moved across the stage in interesting geometric patterns that dazzled the eye. “Twisted” brought a different feel to the stage, with more rounded movements. In this part, the performers paired up, bringing a modern, club-appropriate version of ballroom to the audience. An impressive amount of body-rolling was also a highlight of this number. But nothing could top the sheer joy that was witnessing NBC’s interpretation of “Outta Your Mind.” With lots of jumping and thrusting, it was the perfect vehicle for the group’s signature sass and attitude. There was a wide range of movement styles, starting out quick and tight and growing increasingly large and individual.
Given the wide range of talents and movement types displayed, it is hard to believe that the entire show lasted barely 35 minutes. With such an informal atmosphere, it was certainly an enjoyable half-hour for the audience. The performance served as an exciting preview for NBC and GQ shows to come, and with spring concerts just around the corner, you won’t have to wait very long to see them in action once again.