Colorful lights and a booming sound system filled the Tsai Performance Center Saturday night, encouraging dancers and the audience alike to bring out all their energy for the Boston-based dance group Unofficial Project’s annual “OVRDRV” hip hop showcase.
Olivia Sun, a Boston University alum and former treasurer of Unofficial Project — also known as UPRO — said the show was “energetic” and “crazy,” making her shout so much she started losing her voice.
“The facials, the passion,” Sun said. “I think the execution of dance is less of my concern, but how their emotion is touching me.”
UPRO is made up of members from BU, Northeastern University, Harvard University, Boston College and the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.
Nat Makjumroen, the PR chair of UPRO, said OVRDRV, which is always held at BU, is one of the biggest dance shows in Boston. This year, they sold out all 330 seats on the ground floor. A list of the participating dance teams can be found on this year’s event program.
“We host the collegiate teams from schools like BC, Northeastern, MIT and so on,” said Makjumroen, a BU senior in the College of Engineering. “Throughout the season, we travel to other schools where they hold their own competitions and shows.”
OVRDRV featured 13 dance teams and more than 230 performers across various Boston schools and the Boston community. Headlining acts included Lil Phunk and Phunk Phenomenon, which both raise awareness for the fatal disease Sanfilippo Syndrome — a rare metabolism disorder — and decorated dancers Bo Park, Eric Delgado and Nick Kim.
UPRO co-director Juliana Choo said the original plan for a freestyle competition, which they have done in the past, as well as their traditional full-day schedule were scrapped due to funding issues.
“Initially, it was a full day event where we would have it in the daytime,” said Choo, a BU sophomore in the College of Communication. “But … there’s a lot of funding and money that goes around [the showcase] like getting help from another group and booking other spaces. There was a lot going on.”
This year, OVRDRV only had a night show. However, Choo said, UPRO will experiment with schedules in the future and work on bringing back the freestyle component.
Because of this scheduling change, the showcase seemed shorter than past OVRDRV shows, Sun said.
“I didn’t realize how time flew so fast,” Sun said. “But I definitely enjoyed every moment of it.”
Victor Zheng, a Northeastern sophomore, performed with UPRO and his newer Northeastern dance team called Goldies, which he founded as a “passion project.”
“I was really grateful to have Goldies have the opportunity to perform at OVRDRV because OVRDRV is a pretty big event for dancers,” Zheng said. “A lot of the audience are dancers so the standards are pretty high.”
Eliza Asante, of BU’s all-female dance group Vibes, said rehearsals leading up to the showcase were thorough but enjoyable at the same time.
“We like to be very clean, so we do it until we look sharp, but it’s been great,” said Asante, a BU freshman in the Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. “We have a fun time. We laugh at each other if we look weird, but then we fix it.”
Kelsey Hanle, a member of Northeastern’s dance group Revolve, said she enjoyed the elaborate setup of this year’s OVRDRV, noting the lighting and lineup.
“This is such a cool event, just a combination of really everybody in the Boston dance community, not really just limited by one set theme, one specific school or anything,” Hanle said. “It’s not even just schools. It’s people just in the area, which is awesome.”
Bela Ahumada, the fashion coordinator and choreographer for the Boston non-collegiate team INC, said her group has “good vibes” and a passion for sharing dance with the community.
Ahumada said she loved all the other groups and thought they were “amazing.”
“I feel like everybody is on the same team, so it’s like you can just support all of your friends,” she said.
After the performances concluded, many dancers said they were sad it all had to end.
“It’s so sad because I love this mix and to just throw it away,” Asante said. “But it’s also fun because you move on, you slay, you kill it and then you’re like, ‘We’re gonna do better next time.’”
The showcase is UPRO’s last event for the fall, ending the semester with a bang for the dance community before next spring’s friends and family show.
“Dance showcases are always an entire community getting together, friends, family and dancers, so I always enjoy the vibes,” Zheng said.