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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat



    Regan Norton

    A master class led by Black N’ Blue Hip Hop Crew choreographer and marketing junior Garrett Biselli practices in the Ina E. Gittings building on Tuesday. The team will be performing at the 1 Block 1 Day 24-hour block party on Saturday.

    Being a college student is truly a beautiful thing. Stress, tests and homework may often hide that beauty, but still, its presence is palpable in the air on a college campus — or at least on the UA’s campus. The beauty lies in the freedom to seek out that which inspires and sustains a life of creativity, individuality and fulfillment.

    Starting a club is one way to take advantage of this freedom, and that is exactly what Ali Burnette, founder of the Black N’ Blue Hip Hop Crew at the UA, did. Since 2005, when her passion and commitment to the art led her to create the group, her legacy at the UA has endured.

    Burnette’s legacy has directly impacted Cristina Florez, a nutritional sciences senior and the current president of the Black N’ Blue Hip Hop Crew.

    “[Burnette] really wanted to perform, so she got a group of people together who were friends,” Florez said. “They practiced off campus, and they decided the girls would wear black, the guys would wear blue, and it was just a silly thing they kind of put together.”

    Florez said the group didn’t perform publicly during its first year of existence. As time went on, Black N’ Blue approached many different people in the community to find events and venues to perform at. As of today, Florez said the group has certain annual, staple performances that range from sorority and fraternity gatherings to charity events to Spring Fling. However, every year, there are new places to perform and new people to entertain and spread the joy of dance to. For example, Florez said the crew recently performed for Camp Wildcat, where they also taught the kids the wobble.

    “I mean, for me now, 10 years later, it’s easy for me because I get all the emails of all the performances,” Florez said. “I don’t have to reach really out to anyone. If I did, we’d be way overbooked. We started from the bottom and kind [of] worked our way through. … [The club] was really just a basis for university students who still had this desire to entertain and wanted to still perform, and so we gave them the opportunity.”

    According to Florez, the opportunity to perform and showcase her talents as a dancer makes the club an essential aspect of her college experience. Florez also said the club fosters a friendly and inviting atmosphere and resembles a tight-knit family.

    “I think we have a very family-oriented environment,” Florez said. “I thought, after high school, I was never [going to] perform again, and that made me really sad. I still taught, and I took class, but I [wanted] to perform. … When I came to auditions my sophomore year, everyone was so nice to me and that’s really important to me — to have people who are just genuine and awesome and there for a good time. I just loved every second.”

    Garrett Biselli, a marketing junior and the vice president of the club, said he also found Black N’ Blue to be a special dance refuge. 

    “It’s where I can go to express myself, more so because in class or in passing, I’m more of a reserved person,” Biselli said. “But when I go to dance, I feel like I can really just open up and let go of anything that’s happening and just share who I really am.”

    Similarly to Florez, Biselli stressed the family aspect of the crew.

    “Everyone supports each other even if you’re from different studios,” Biselli said. “It’s all about camaraderie. And it’s just a lot of fun to see what different people bring to the table.”

    By nature, families evolve and grow, and the Black N’ Blue team openly advocates this expansion by holding auditions every fall and $5 master classes every month in the Ina E. Gittings building where the club normally rehearses.

    “I’ve really wanted to offer [master classes] as a monthly thing this year, so that people could come and get to know us and see what we’re about,” Florez said. “I think that dance is such a positive thing for anyone really. It’s a stress reliever. It makes you sweat, and it’s fun. … We have a different member of the team choreograph every single time.”

    To see Black N’ Blue in action, fans can attend the 1 Block 1 Day Festival this Saturday.

    According to its Facebook page, the festival is a “24-hour block party,” hosted by The Human Project in part with other local partnerships.

    “The purpose is to create a space (One Block) where for 24 hours (One Day) our world is a complete utopia, free of crime, gender biases, racial tensions, socioeconomic woes or any other reasons that separate us,” the event page states.

    The Black N’ Blue Hip Hop Crew may not be a conventional family, but dance has brought them together to do what they love, and the rest is easy to ignore. These ideals make the club a pivotal part of Saturday’s festival.


    Follow Madison Scavarda on Twitter.

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