Redefined Dance Company keeps hip-hop alive

Vanessa Sliva

Not far removed from the buffet lines of J2, a group of UT students learn the refined techniques of robotic dancing. The members of Redefined Dance Company work to keep hip-hop dancing alive by participating in team competitions with routines inspired by traditional hip-hop styles.  

Redefined Dance Company was founded in 2007 to reestablish hip-hop dancing in Texas. Since then, the group has expanded and won the nationwide dance competition World of Dance two times in a row. In this competition, dance groups of all ages compete against each other by performing a combination of street dancing and new-age choreography.

The group holds auditions each semester, making no spot permanent. Fifth-year nutrition senior, Crystal De La Rosa, tried out for the group during her freshman year and has been dancing with the team since.

“When I auditioned, there were three freshman, and everyone else was an upperclassmen,” De La Rosa said. “There was a lot of pressure, and I didn’t know anyone at all. It was scary.”

Redefined gave De La Rosa the opportunity to make friends and network with other dancers around the nation. Sharon Melnikov, international relations and global studies junior, said the team chemistry was one of the greatest aspects of joining the team.

“I was expecting to join a team and dance — that’s it,” Melnikov said. “Obviously, you make friends at practice, but these are people you hang out with, you go out with and you randomly have lunch with.”

Melnikov said the dance routines tell a story and revolve around a central theme. In order to successfully convey the story, the dances must be exact.

“A lot of Texas hip-hop is very swag [and] hard-hitting,” Melnikov said. “Redefined takes the foundations of hip-hop and incorporates that into our routine. That’s really our drive — bringing back foundation.”

Dance teams are especially popular in Houston and Dallas, according to Melnikov. In these cities, there are official and unofficial dance communities taught by
professional instructors.

Redefined puts students in charge. Fifth-year mathematics senior Ramon Catindig is one of the group leaders who mentors the newer members.

“Dance is kind of like the perfect art style to bond with somebody,” Catindig said. “You’re not only moving to music people may enjoy, but you’re moving together. You’re getting in synced with your bodies as well. Dance is something we love.”

In order to encourage more participation, Redefined offers free bi-weekly classes. These classes are open to anyone interested in dancing, not just
UT students. 

“We want to redefine how people see hip-hop around Texas,” De La Rosa said. “Yes, there’s locking and popping, but it’s not just the hip-hop you see in videos. It’s more.”