Culture Shock Dance Troupe is a 17-year-old hip-hop dance team on the SUNY New Paltz campus that competes in the tri-state area and performs for numerous events on the New Paltz campus. We also host a big show in November called Dance Evolution, which is a part of our Homecoming, Blue and Orange Weekend. We are a very diverse group of people with exciting members who can dance hip-hop but are not shy in trying other styles of dance. We select members through a two-part audition process. Once a Culture Shock member, always a Culture Shock member. Though school is our first priority, our members carry the same spirit and notion when it comes to dance. Our motto: “I’d rather be dancing!”
Dance Mogul: What does Hip Hop and Hip Hop dance mean to you?
Culture Shock: Hip Hop is all about self-expression, it’s all about being real and honest. The dance form is all about attitude and character. Hip Hop dance isn’t limited and can be open to various interpretations, especially in this day and age. It’s a way to communicate, a way to share, and it is always evolving. The opportunity for my team and I do something we love and to tell stories through our dancing is so special to me.
Dance Mogul: How did Culture Shock get started and what have been some of your keys to longevity?
Culture Shock: Culture Shock got started in New Paltz in 1996. The founder was interested in having a hip-hop dance team on the campus; it was the first of its kind and it was a chance to diversify and entertain the New Paltz community. Culture Shock is still striving because each year we come across special, unique talent on the New Paltz campus and dancers who demonstrate the dedication and the passion needed to keep our team running successfully.
Dance Mogul: What messages do you hope to portray and get across to your audiences with your dancing?
Culture Shock: Culture Shock’s whole purpose of dancing is to entertain and inspire our audience. We want to show people that even though we come from very different walks of life, dancers of any background can work together and create something dynamic. Our dance style is always changing and we are always looking for the next big thing. What is it that people haven’t seen before? How are we going to stand out and build a fan base?
Dance Mogul: How do you balance striving for your education while maintaining and growing the dancers individually and collectively?
Culture Shock: We recognize that before we are members of this team, we are students first. It takes experience to find an organic place between being dancers and being full-time students. It can be overwhelming at first, but we study together and some of us even have classes together, which always helps. Each member of this team loves performing and realizes the importance of putting on our best work both on the dance floor and educationally, which motivates us to work hard.
Dance Mogul: Do you feel dance makes you a more well-rounded individual in society?
Culture Shock: Absolutely. Dancing is an outlet that harbors diverse benefits such as building confidence in people as well as acting as a reliever of stress. Each member of Culture Shock is much more confident, sociable and open-minded from dancing.
Dance Mogul: Do you think dance needs to be supported more on the collegiate level?
Culture Shock: The arts, in general, should be weighed as more important than they are. It’s very disappointing to see that a lot of arts programs are either getting cut or taken out of schools. Dance in itself serves a great purpose for people. Not only is dance used to entertain but it can also be used for exercise, therapy, and recreational activity. It is also something that has been in our culture since the beginning of humanity.
Dance Mogul: What are your future goals for your organization?
Culture Shock: Culture Shock is always looking to grow and potentially do bigger things on the New Paltz campus and nationwide. We look forward to collaborating with other organizations at school to host more cultural and educational programs. We plan to continue competing and attending dance conventions because they inspire and motivate us to improve as dancers and as artists.
Dance Mogul: Tell us about your dance show, Dance Evolution?
Culture Shock: Dance Evolution is Culture Shock’s big show, our baby! We showcase a variety of pieces performed by other organizations on the New Paltz campus which include dance, singing, and spoken word. We also perform a really big number which theme is based on a movie and each year it is a different movie. In the past, we have done Kill Bill, Alice in Wonderland, The Matrix and most recently this year, Mortal Kombat. (All of these can be found on YouTube as well as our YouTube page with various other Culture Shock performances) We then host a dance competition, where we invite teams from different schools as well as New York City to compete for a grand prize of $1000 and a trophy.
Dance Mogul: What was your approach to winning Khaotik 3?
Culture Shock: We actually competed last year and placed 3rd. While in practice we were fully devoted to our rehearsals, which meant drilling choreography, working on attitude and building up our stamina. This year, we had the goal of winning so we choreographed a highly energetic piece with a variety of dance styles and incorporated a lot of theatrical material to keep the audience excited and wanting more.
Dance Mogul: Is there anyone you would like to thank for helping you thus far?
Culture Shock: We would first like to thank the SUNY New Paltz campus who are our first fan base and our first audience. They always support our performances and without them, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to showcase great pieces. Also, we would like to thank all of our music technicians, contributing choreographers who help us put together our pieces, as well as our alumni who encourage us, and are our toughest critics!
For more on Culture Shock Check out:
Facebook: Culture Shock Dance Troupe (SUNY New Paltz)
Youtube page: cultureshocknp
President: Craig Washington
Vice President: Nicole Pemberton
Treasurer: Isabelle Bonhomme
Public Relations: Jasmine Manning
Secretary: Briana Hamilton
Farris Moustafa, Danit Ianovici, Sheryl Katz, Shadajah Costin, Shakiraye Rookwood, Jennifer Prince, Carlie Dan, Briana Mawad, Taylor Fisher, Bethany Hall
Miwako Ueda, Christina Dominguez, Jalitza Baez, Emily Imbert