What Does it Take to be on Haluan?

Dancers audition for UCSC hip-hop team

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Dancers mirrored one another’s fluid torso twists or moved with eyes closed and headphones on, whipping out sharp movements at the Haluan Hip-Hop Dance Troupe auditions. When hip-hop music began blasting, students organized themselves into formations for the moment they had been practicing for.

The team’s three co-coordinators, third-years Kennedy Bagnol, Stacy Orellana and Sabrina Baños conducted auditions on Oct. 14 after leading three evenings of workshops from Oct. 10-12. By the evening of the auditions, the coordinators had made their new team, composed of 50 to 55 members.

Dancers perform in front of a panel of three Haluan co-coordinators during the second round of Haluan tryouts. The Haluan team has excelled in competitions across the Bay Area. During competition season, the team practices almost every day.

Bayanihan, previously known as the Filipino Student Association, formed Haluan, the UC Santa Cruz urban hip-hop team, in 1992. The team aims to promote diversity and unite the Pilipinx population on campus. Haluan primarily competes in the Bay Area, however this year’s team hopes to compete in Southern California. Last year, the group won the crowd favorite award at the Collaboration NorCal Urban Dance Competition.

The dance group’s name, Haluan, is Tagalog for being of mixed nature, a principle which drives the team’s spirit.

“It’s such a diverse group of people,” Orellana said. “We’re all finding common ground in our passion for dance. It’s really great to relate to people that are so different than you, but still find something that you both love. It really brings the community together and it helps create strong feelings of friendship.”

Each coordinator choreographed an original dance to teach at the workshop, which students learned for the actual auditions. Haluan organizes tryouts in this way to allow for improvement, similar to the way professional dance tryouts are organized.

Groups of six performed the three-piece mix before a brief opportunity to freestyle, totaling a 10-minute tryout. Orellana’s upbeat movements to Yo Gotti’s “Rake It Up” flowed into Baños’ lyrical motions to Alina Baraz’s “Electric,” which then shifted to Bagnol’s controlled steps to Daniel Caesar’s “Japanese Denim.”

“We choreographed our pieces in certain ways so that each showcases a certain skill that a dancer may have,” Bagnol said. “We tried to be as diverse as possible choreographically so that way we could have a full view of the dancer.”

Bagnol, Baños and Orellana judged the dancers the same way Haluan is judged at competitions.

They rated dancers on a scale of one to five in two main categories. The first, execution, is based on body control, placement and dynamics. The second, showmanship, is based on characteristics like confidence and style.

The coordinators watched for these specific elements while also keeping a holistic perspective as they admitted dancers who showed a significant amount of determination and ability to grow.

Fourth-year Kianna Mark joined Haluan her freshman year. She said being a Haluan team member requires attention to detail and focus, especially during the end of winter quarter when Haluan begins competition season.

“[We have] two to three practices a week when we’re not in competition season, from 8-11 p.m.,” Mark said. “When [we] near competition season, we practice almost every day of the week. ”

Mark trained in ballet from an early age and feels other members of Haluan broadened her understanding of hip-hop in terms of dynamic footwork and textures of overall movement.Through consistent practices, team members heighten their understanding of hip- hop technique.

Haluan’s primary goal is to elevate the individual abilities of each team member to tie their movement all together. Pilipinx cultural values bleed into the dance troupe’s dynamic, Bagnol said. One of the primary ways this occurs is through the importance of family, a concept that holds the team together and drives its selection of new members.

“I believe that everyone in Haluan is first and foremost on because they love to dance,” Bagnol said. “Throughout the year, our goal is for Haluan to become a family. So you come for the dance but you stay for the family.”

Haluan will hold tryouts again at the beginning of winter quarter. Visit Haluan’s website at haluan.org for more information.