Bates’s dance program — specifically, the Bates Dance Festival — is well-known and respected among its peers. But, like many college dance programs, while it offers classes in a variety of styles, it centers around modern and contemporary dance. People who enjoy the Studio: Hip-Hop course, taught this semester by Allie James and Carol Dilley, might be looking for a place to do all hip-hop all the time.
That’s where 2B.E.A.T.S. comes in.
2B.E.A.T.S. is one of Bates’s many dance clubs. The group, which is specifically dedicated to hip-hop, is open to everyone, regardless of experience. All of their performances are choreographed entirely by students. A cappella groups tend to have an inherited repertoire that they make cuts or additions to every year; 2B.E.A.T.S., on the other hand, choreographs new work every year, and routines do not get passed down.
The club was founded in 2014 as 2B.E.A.T.S., or “To Be Empowered Artists Through Song.” Current Co-President Stella Santucci ‘22 described the club as “advertised as hip-hop, but really we welcome all types of dancing. There is no need to know how to dance, it’s really just an opportunity for students to get together and dance.”
Co-President Hailey Stephens ‘23 agreed, adding that “everyone in [2B.E.A.T.S.] has a passion for dance and I think that’s what makes it so special … a lot of passion is all that’s required.”
The club’s origins are in American hip-hop as it emerged from the Bronx in the 1970s; however, Santucci noted that with members “being from different places in the world, hip-hop looks different” depending on where each individual is from. It’s one of the reasons why it’s so important that the choreography changes every year to reflect the group’s current composition.
Stephens choreographed a piece for the club as a first year to be performed at Melting Pot, an annual tradition hosted by the Caribbean Students Association and a staple of the 2B.E.A.T.S. event calendar. During the 2019 to 2020 school year, Melting Pot happened to fall during March — meaning that it was one of the last events to go on before everyone was sent home for COVID-19.
Due to event capacity limits, the performance happened with four performers instead of the planned 15-16. “It was a lot of stress, but it taught me a lot about my capabilities as a choreographer,” Stephens said. “And hopefully I will get to choreograph again for Gala.”
Gala is another performance staple of the club. As we haven’t had Gala since 2019, let me explain for all the underclassmen: Gala is a big semi-formal dance held typically in March or April (and rumor has it that it’s being planned for this year).
Why is a hip-hop club performing at a semi-formal, you may ask? Gala traditionally features performances from other dance clubs, such as the Ballroom Team. Thus, it’s not only an opportunity to dress up and eat fancy food, but it’s also a chance to support Bates dancers as they celebrate with the community.
Plus, it’s typically the longest performance time 2B.E.A.T.S. gets, so it’s really the centerpiece of their season, which also typically includes (in non-COVID-19 years) Back to Bates, Sangai Asia and the Winter Arts Festival. Performing at Gala would be a sharp turn from last year, when Stephens said the club was “on Garcelon learning TikTok dances” in order to stay connected and dancing.
Just because the dances themselves aren’t passed down, though, doesn’t mean that the spirit of the club’s alumni doesn’t live on. Stephens shared that carrying on the lessons she learned from the upperclassmen is one of her favorite parts of the club. After all, she got into the club by way of upperclassmen encouraging her to come out.
If you want to give hip-hop a try but you either can’t get into James’ and Dilley’s class (it tends to fill up) or if you’re intimidated by taking a class in the dance department, Santucci and Stephens want you to come to 2B.E.A.T.S. practice, which are usually held on Wednesdays and/or Sundays. Santucci doesn’t want you to worry about perfection: “Be proud of yourself for trying it! Enjoy it!”
The club plans to submit a video for this year’s upcoming Winter Arts Festival on Feb. 11 and hope to perform at Gala and Melting Pot, COVID-19 permitting. You can reach out to Santucci and Stephens if you have specific questions.