The Washington University Hip Hop Union (WUHHU) formed not long ago as an outlet for students who enjoyed hip-hop and wanted to learn more.
Then something changed.
The team got really good. In 2019, the team placed third in the Prelude Dance Competition in Boston, wowing judges with its sharp moves and creative choreography.
“We had never placed before. Competitions had always been just a learning experience,” said Renée Austin, a member of the WUHHU executive board and a senior majoring in dance in Arts & Sciences. “That competition showed us what we are capable of.”
The Washington University in St. Louis community can see the team’s newest pieces at its annual fall showcase at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, in Tisch Commons at the Danforth University Center. Admission is free. WUHHU specializes in commercial dance — the high-energy style that backup dancers typically perform at concerts and in music videos — and will be performing heels dancing (you guessed it – dancing in heels), waacking, a cousin of voguing, as well as other forms of hip-hop.
Saturday’s showcase also will feature performances by five other student groups: WU Fuego, a Latin dance team; WU Sauce, a salsa dance team; WU Cypher, a freestyle dance group; PL4Y, a K-pop dance group, and K.A.R.L. Improv, a comedy troupe.
“There are studies that show that when you are watching someone dance, your body will actually fire the neurons that you would use if you tried those moves,” explained Austin, who also is studying psychology in Arts & Sciences. “Even if you think you don’t understand what it’s like to dance, your brain does. I love that.”
Austin did not come to Washington University to study dance, but she found a community of amazing dancers both in and outside of the classroom. Austin plans to pursue a dance career after graduating and ultimately hopes to study physical therapy to help injured dancers and athletes.
“The first time I saw WUHHU, I was like, ‘Wow! I want to be part of that,’” Austin said. “WashU may not be known for dance, but the truth is we have an incredibly vibrant and inclusive dance community here on campus.”