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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Home Sweet Hype

Photo by Ricky Labrada

Aidan Korte, a sophomore in the College of Communication, always knew she wanted to dance in college But after dancing mostly ballet and jazz as a child, she was ready to try something new.

She found that new outlet through HYPE, Marquette’s hip hop dance team.

“My friend from home was on HYPE and told me to try out,” she says. “I was nervous to try out, since I hadn’t ever really done hip hop, but I am minoring in dance and thought it would be good to have another dance outlet, besides just a three-credit class.”

HYPE was created as an official group on campus in 2001 by Marquette alumnus JC Cunningham. Cunningham still choreographs routines for both the Marquette and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee HYPE teams. Now 19 seasons later, the dance team is stronger than ever. With six male dancers, the most HYPE has ever had at one time, this year’s team has a total of 23 members.

Cunningham, who grew up as a dancer, started HYPE with a few other friends after the positive response they received from performing at a university event. They first held auditions in 1999 as an unofficial organization and 75 students auditioned to be on the team.  In 2004, HYPE Marquette expanded to UWM, and in 2006 HYPE Dance Company expanded into its own studio at BEST Fitness in the Third Ward.

“These students can do whatever they want with their time, and the fact that they are choosing to dance and be with each other, and to see them go on and build this great community is something really special to be a part of,” Cunningham says.

“I love everyone on the team,” Sofie Manglano, a sophomore in the College of Nursing and HYPE dancer, says. “It’s such a family-oriented team.”

Korte ended up finding much more than just an additional dance outlet: she found a multitude of unexpected friendships. The community built through HYPE has a positive impact on the way the group dances together.

“The better friends we are outside of HYPE, the better dancers we are inside HYPE,” Korte explains. “And you can see that in the way we perform.”

Manglano, similar to Korte, had been dancing her whole life and knew she wanted to join HYPE after watching YouTube videos of the group’s performances.

“I danced on my (high school) dance team, but some of the dancers on HYPE had no dance experience prior to HYPE, which in my opinion just makes it all that much better,” Manglano says.

It is no surprise the team is so close with two, sometimes three, practices a week that usually end up being two and a half hours, Korte explains. During an average semester, the team learns 12 to 15 routines, choreographed by HYPE dancers, local Milwaukee choreographers and students from the UWM HYPE team.

“Learning from my peers and giving them a platform to teach their own choreography is amazing,” Manglano says.

Each dance, called a set, is a mashup of three to four one-minute songs. Their performances are upbeat, lively and precise.

“One thing I love about HYPE and hip hop is the variation of it all. Everyone brings their own style and technique into it, making every routine different and exciting,” Korte says.

For Korte, the variation of hip hop challenges her as a dancer to grow in the art.

“Having a new and different dance outlet is so exciting,” she says.

Besides having its own showcase, the team opened in the past for Marquette’s all-male a cappella group The Naturals, various Milwaukee community groups and the UWM HYPE team. While most of the dancers do it purely for fun, the hours of training, rehearsals and practice do not come without work.

Korte explains that in one practice, she usually takes 2,500 steps, according to her Fitbit. During their performances, they dance for four to five minutes straight. Manglano agrees that practices and performances are certainly an aerobic workout.

“After our four hours of scheduled practices a week, we motivate each other to work out or practice together to build the stamina and strength we need for our performances,” Manglano says.

Despite the hours of hard work and dedication, the dancers do not lose focus of HYPE’s mission to preserve the art of hip hop dance through education, movement and workshop, Cunningham explains.

The dedication keeps the dancers ready and excited to learn more and push each other to become better dancers.

Cunningham’s one hope for the dancers? To go after their dreams, he says.

“Whatever that may be, dance or otherwise, you only have one life, so go for it,” Cunningham says. “… And if it doesn’t work out, you have a college degree and a great support system, so just do it.”

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