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A selfie of the Uji members

In 1985, Ujima Dance Troupe took the world (Dartmouth College) by storm.

At least I think it did, anyways. I wasn't alive to see it.

Ujima, known as "Uji" for short, is Dartmouth's oldest dance troupe on campus. Ujima - meaning collective work and responsibility - is the third of seven principles of Kwanzaa. The group originally combined styles such as modern dance, jazz, African dance, ballet, and hip-hop, but today, the focus is primarily on hip-hop (though new styles are always encouraged and celebrated).

Dancers in Uji come from all sorts of backgrounds. Some of us have never danced before, some - like me - come from a more contemporary/jazz background, and some have been well-versed in hip-hop for years! No matter where we come from and which styles of dance we know best, in Uji we are celebrated for our differences and diversity.

I auditioned during my freshman fall. Students in their first year are required to audition for all four audition-based groups (Ujima, Sheba, Fusion, and Sugarplum) to maximize their opportunities and try something new! I came into auditions with a contemporary and jazz background, unsure if I wanted to continue these styles in college. I ended up in Uji, and I couldn't be happier.

Uji members outside of Lou's
Every fall, new members are accepted into Uji! Here is a photo of the team from last fall, when I was accepted.

One of my favorite things about Uji is that it is student-run, and any member of Uji can choreograph for the group - even as a new member. This past winter, I made my very first choreography, which was a beautiful mix of exciting and terrifying. I hope to make some more soon, maybe for one of our fall shows!

On average, Uji performs twice a term. My first show - and one of my favorites - was the Halloween Show, which we performed with Sheba (another amazing dance group!). I was riddled with nerves, but after dancing and being cheered on by fellow dancers and audience members alike, I had a fantastic time. I'm incredibly excited for our upcoming Halloween Show that will take place later on during fall term!

Uji members before the Halloween Show
A team photo of us taken right before Halloween Show!

Our other big show is called Saussy, taking place in the spring. The weather has finally warmed up a little bit - so much so that we can perform outside! Saussy includes Uji as well as tons of other dance groups on campus. We dance on a flat stage area central to campus, so that anyone interested can come and watch!

Uji dancing at Saussy
One of my favorite photos: Uji dancing during Saussy!

I could probably write a 10-page essay on how much I love Uji, Dartmouth dance, and dance/movement in general - but I'm sure neither of us will want to read (or write) all of that. I'll close this out by expressing my utmost appreciation to Uji for helping me come out of my shell and feel more confident in myself. I have always found joy in dance and movement because of how it allows me to express myself, but exploring a new genre of dance has pushed me to new limits! 

I'd encourage anyone interested in dance to audition here at Dartmouth. Uji isn't just a team - it's a community! I have made some of my closest friends here in Uji, and I'm excited to journey through Dartmouth alongside them.

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