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Photo courtesy of Synergy Hip Hop Dance Company / Facebook

The Essence of Synergy

I’m no dance extraordinaire, but I know a good show when I see one. I can feel it in the screams of the audience, in the precision and synchronicity of the moves, and especially in that pre-show moment of excitement as the entire room holds its breath, eyes fixed on a darkened stage.

But a Synergy show? That takes things to a whole new level.

Founded in 2004 as Boston College’s first hip hop dance team, the Synergy Hip Hop Dance Company has been bringing its own distinct, contagious style to the on-campus performing arts scene ever since its creation. All week before their most recent show, They Don’t Do It Like My Clique, I overheard conversations in the dining halls, in the Plex, you name it—all eagerly anticipating what Synergy would come up with next.

“In my freshman year, my Courage to Know TA was on Synergy, and he convinced me to go to a couple of shows,” says the team’s current treasurer, Faizan Javed, CSOM ‘17. “The dancing was incredible, but the culture of the team just seemed really close-knit and diverse. That culture was what really inspired me to join and I completely fell in love with dance after that.”

As one of the most diverse groups on campus—whether that be racially, culturally, socioeconomically, or otherwise—Synergy aims to unify students through a common love of dance in an environment that “[encourages] a fusion of creativity and collaboration,” according to the group’s event program.

“It’s a very hype group of people,” Javed laughs, “but I think that stems from the fact that everyone is so different.”

Of course, these differences never impede Synergy from consistently putting on strong, unified performances. The team presented their highly-anticipated and sold out show, They Don’t Do It Like My Clique, this past Friday, successfully packing Robsham full of cheering fans and a very palpable energy.

“We were approved for the show late last semester, so we began thinking about potential themes for it,” says Javed. “We wanted it to be a little more creative, so we thought, why don’t we have a show that everybody at BC can relate to? Why don’t we collaborate with other dance teams and do something that we’ve never done before?”

The team decided on a show with a clear storyline that brought in teams with styles distinctly different from their own: Presenting Africa to You (PATU), Females Incorporating Sisterhood Through Step (FISTS), Boston College Dance Ensemble, and Dance Organization of Boston College (DOBC). The show walked through the BC freshman experience, highlighting different “cliques” that can be found along the way, whether it be the nerds, the CSOM kids, the stoners, the RAs, or the mean girls.

“I think this is one of the first types of these kinds of shows that’s ever been done at BC,” Javed tells me. “Through this performance, we’re trying to unite as much of the student body as we can. It’s really blurring the lines between a holistic artwork experience and a dance performance.”

On Friday evening, Synergy and the other featured dance teams didn’t fail to floor their audience with such a fresh, new kind of performance. The entire room was held in a magnetic trance as flashing lights and clean, crisp moves took over the Robsham stage. Students shouted for their friends who were performing—some even brought handmade signs—but there’s no doubt that all those in attendance felt they were truly a part of the show.

“We all come from different places and get to know each other so well, and at the end of the day it’s all about getting to dance with each other and the beautiful piece of art that we can create together,” says Synergy team member Nghi Ho, MCAS ‘19. “We always try to connect with the music and connect with what we’re doing and, of course, with each other.”

Ask any member of Synergy and they will undoubtedly tell you that it’s less of a team and more of a family. Besides spending hours upon hours in practice together, team members share a special bond when they’re not dancing, as well. Through a yearly retreat, coffee dates, spaghetti dinners, and other team bonding activities, the team embodies its #SynFam mentality both on and off the stage.

“For me, what makes Synergy stand out from the rest is the fact that we do it because we love to dance and because we love each other,” says Ho. “Synergy is a support system that translates outside of the dance studio, and that’s something I’ve always treasured and appreciated.”

Javed, in telling me about his favorite moments in his time on Synergy, recalls little moments from backstage—quietly holding hands in the anxious moments before a show, doing breathing exercises together, even giving “honey bun hugs”—that only reiterate this feeling of family within the team. While there is certainly an aspect of competition (after all, only seven out of 115 people made it through this year’s round of auditions), there’s an even more undeniable aspect of family that is reinforced upon experiencing a Synergy show.

“I remember performing [at last year’s Showdown event] and just leaving everything on that stage after working so hard with these people throughout the semester,” Ho tells me. “The moment I remember the most is during our last song, ‘Firestone,’ when everyone started clapping along to the music, and I just remember, like tears.” She laughs. “The connection that we felt as a team after working so hard and having people enjoy our performance actually moved me to tears. That was definitely unforgettable.”

While the essence of SynFam leaves no room for cliquey-ness, it’s true that nobody does it quite like their clique.

“On the stage, I don’t think anyone is cheering as loud for us as we are for each other,” laughs Javed. “I think most Synergy members would say that this family they can always turn to is their favorite part of BC—and that’s really what we aim for.”

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My parents live in Mississippi, but I live in the moment. Texting in all lowercase letters is my aesthetic. I probably eat too many mozz sticks and listen to too much Drake.