Twelve post-secondary schools gathered at the Mclntyre Preforming Art Center at Mohawk College, for the 13th annual Ontario Universities Competition (OUCH). It is an annual, non-profit hip-hop dance competition that is open to universities and colleges across Ontario. Raymond Mendoza, a student from the University of Waterloo, founded the competition in 2003 with the purpose of establishing a friendly event among post-secondary students and to promote the exciting, growing and influential culture of hip-hop. The competition allows students from across the province to showcase their skills while still maintaining and prioritizing their post-secondary education, as most are not pursuing a career in dance. All the proceeds from the November 19 event went to the Unity Charity. Unity is an organization that helps schools and communities across Canada.
“I’ve been dancing for almost 18 years of my life, and hip hop for me was that outlet,” Explained Michael Prosserman, the founder and executive director of Unity. “It was that thing when I had nothing to describe the words and the things that were going on in my life and the stress that was building up inside of me to get that out of my body I could just beat up the floor and let it out of my body. Then I could just reset my life and focus on what I needed to focus on.”
The organization teaches young people to express their stress and develop skills for success, by getting rid of their anger through art, dance and music.
The competitors at O.U.C.H. consisted of York’s IE Dance Crew, George Brown’s Legacy, Queen’s Flow Performance Crew, Western’s Nine Dance Crew, Ryerson’s Urban Hip Hop Union, Guelph’s Atcha Crew, Waterloo’s Generations, St George U of T’s 4Y, Wilfrid Laurier’s A.L.I.A.S., Scarborough U of T, Twelve65, McMaster’s VIE Division and Brock’s Hunni Badgers. Judges Ade Willis, Aj Velasco, Amanda-May Wilson, Lineen Doung, and Leah Totten deliberated the schools performances. The event was hosted by the charming Rachel Hunter, a former dancer and OUCH competitor. Her spunky, sarcastic humour helped highlight and direct the crowd’s energy and enthusiasm. Each team had a chance to showcase their choreography and musical mix.
Brock Dance’s spicy, high-energy performance brought the crowd to their feet. Thanks to a fan bus that departed from Brock, many supporters were able to attend the Hamilton event and helped cheer on the Hunni Badgers. This was their third year competing at O.U.C.H.
“Competing at O.U.C.H. is a truly unique and humbling experience,” stated Bianca Milosavljevic, a fourth year student in medical sciences. “Being able to see how other schools express their love of hip hop, as well as [bringing] our own passion and fire to the competition is amazing.”
“Our all-girl team had an outstanding amount of support from friends and family, and it’s hard not to feel the crowd’s immense energy while performing on stage. Personally, hearing the audience cheer us on throughout the entire performance was what made my experience unforgettable. I am honoured to be a part of this fierce and powerful hip hop group, and I am even more excited to continue to compete with them throughout the season.”
Ashley Hainer, President of Brock Dance described it as a crazy experience.
“Everyone is so supportive of each other. You are there to learn and grow as a dancer and an individual rather than to compete,” said Hainer. “It is so nice knowing that there is a team of people who are in the same position as you are. We truly are in this together in all aspects of our university lives, and probably help each other without even knowing it! We all share the same love and passion of dance and being in each other’s company is all it really takes to get over difficult times. We can use dance as an outlet for our stress, and that helps us out tremendously.”
After an incredible night of music embodiment, the judges revealed their top 3 teams. Waterloo’s Generation took home the first prize, followed by last year’s winners McMaster’s VIE division, and Wilfrid Laurier’s ALIAS. The overall rankings are to be released later next week. Last year the Hunni Badgers placed fourth overall and are hoping for the same results this time around. When asked about the overall performance Hainer commented, “We felt good, we put it all out there and we had a lot of fun.”
Looking forward, The Brock Dance club is hosting a benefit show on January 22. The show consists of performances from the Brock Dance Competitive Team as well as other studios, crews and companies within Ontario. All of the proceeds from the show will go to support The RAFT, a local organization that contributes to the welfare of the community by helping at risk youth, families and neighbourhoods become independent and self-sufficient. Tickets for the benefit will go on sale early next semester.
-Chloe Charbonneau, Photographer