One night in the spring of 2016, senior Kirsi Eby casually introduced a few hip-hop dance steps to a few friends in the basement of Simpson Residence. They were hooked, and the three started practicing regularly and spreading the word.
Now a senior, Eby leads Hillsdale’s hip-hop dance club, a weekly practice dedicated to the upbeat environment of hip-hop lessons and choreographed dances.
Eby said she appreciates the opportunity to bring hip-hop to Hillsdale College’s campus, which has outlets for more traditional dancing, such as the swing dance club or the ballroom dance club.
“I like that I’ve seen the college branch out and diversify,” Eby said.
At the end of last year, five students consistently attended the club’s weekly meetings, which consisted of a warmup, a lesson teaching simple steps, and choreographed practice for a longer form piece.
While the club does not currently have any performances, they do videotape their dances, and share them on social media.
Junior Hannah Socolofsky has been with Eby since the beginning, and she said she has enjoyed the weekly classes and finds the environment fun and welcoming.
“We like to do things for their own sake here at Hillsdale,” she said. “It’s good to do things that make you happy.”
Socolofsky had very little dance experience prior to joining the club, but has found herself able to pick up the pieces because of Eby’s teaching style.
“She’s a great teacher; she makes it understandable for those who don’t know how to dance,” Socolofsky said.
Those who attend speak highly of Eby’s instruction, and Eby says they have improved a lot.
Eby choreographs each of the pieces that the club practices. Although it requires a lot of preparation and work, she said her extensive background in dance, which ranges from ballet, to jazz, to hip-hop, makes choreography “almost like writing music.”
Eby’s lessons became such an inspiration for the members of the club that one student even contributed to the final choreography last spring, without having any dance experience prior to joining the hip-hop club.
In addition to the club, Eby’s talents helped her lead her residence hall, Whitley, in last year’s Mock Rock, where she contributed to the choreographed dance.
As the club moves forward, they hope to find more interest.
Those in the club praise Eby’s dedication to the club.
Reuben Blake, a senior and founding member of the club who was also with Eby from that very first night in Simpson, said that she is the “real champ.”
“She does all the planning and choreography; I just happened to convince her that it was important to continue in that passion and share it with others on campus,” Blake said in an email.
“There’s no judgement, just dancing,” Eby said.
Those interested in the hip-hop dance club can contact Kirsi Eby at firstname.lastname@example.org.