Emily Shick puts ‘hip’ in ‘hip-hop’

There is one stage, one spotlight, one crew, but more than one love for hip-hop in the world of dance. Backstage, performers prepare to impress with their breakdancing skills, freestyle battle moves and technical routines all that help make one unique choreographed performance. The goal? A grand applause. 

A once timid Irish dancer today blossoms into a confident, energetic, crewmember thanks to the edgy moves offered by hip-hop music. Meet your fellow SSU hip-hop dance crewmember of Unifying Naturally Inspired Talents (U.N.I.T.), Emily Shick. 

At eight years old she began her passion for dance as she practiced Irish dancing for several years, including jazz and tap. It wasn’t until high school when a group of dancers performed their piece at a basketball game during half time, where she was refreshingly impressed. With no hip-hop dancing experience she was uneasy for the audition. Still, her many years of technical learning paid off. She made the team and by her senior year she became the president of the group. Today she is one of the lead founders of the new yet multitalented hip-hop dance crew on campus. 

U.N.I.T. is less than three years old. Shick says that the name “Unifying Naturally Inspired Talents” came about by the dance instructors, Bernadette Alverio and Joe Gray. Certainly not a one-dimensional group, the team includes members with a variety of skills such as breakers, choreographers, technical dancers, freestylers and more. They all come in different shapes, sizes, abilities and skills, yet they are all able to come together as a family. 

Shick speaks in deeper depth of her undeniable connections with these members. “Dancing is I feel a really vulnerable art. And when you share that with a group of people they become your family,” said Shick.

“Being with that group of people [her dance team], with that crowd and hearing the crowd screaming and chanting your name over and over again just makes you feel like they’re appreciating what we’re giving out to them,” said Shick.

These brilliant artists bring beauty to the rugged street inspired movement. But, success is not achieved overnight. Their daily routine is dictated by a solid workout. They begin their day with a “boot camp” like exercise, ending with a choreographed rehearsal. 

It all pays off with memorable competitions such as the “World of Dance” a competition in San Francisco, plus local competitions here in Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Windsor and the surrounding area. They’ve also showcased at San Francisco’s Dance Mission Center Theater. Displaying themselves to the public isn’t always a contest; they also enjoy dancing for high school rallies and related events. 

Currently they will be traveling to Las Vegas for the “Set It Off” competition on Oct. 19, 2013. In addition, they will be hosting auditions on Sept. 8, 2013 from 5-6:30 p.m. in their studio, The Music Co-op located on 925 Piner Rd. in Santa Rosa. 

Also, watch out for a master class offered by Joe Gray held by Bluebaronz (the hip-hop club outside of Sonoma State University). This class will be open for anyone who has the thirst for learning choreography. 

Emily’s love for hip-hop dance doesn’t rest on stage, for she continues to carry it in her heart. Her future plans involve helping those kids and teenagers with a multitude of disabilities through the use of Dance Therapy. She explains this type of healing by saying she wants to be their therapist through movement.

She proves there is so much more to dance than a mere form of entertainment. She strives to continue her passion to dance intertwined in her desire to help those in need. 

Thinking maybe she would teach her students Irish dancing, she says she no longer practices the movement as hip-hop has taken over her life. Yet she says that Irish dance will always be her first dance love.