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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Tuesday, March 5, 2024

WEEKENDER: Arts editors by day, Tufts Dance Collective choreographers by night

On Jan. 4, we had the pleasure of attending the advance screening of “M3GAN” (2022) at the AMC Boston Common 19. Our infatuation with M3GAN began long before this premiere, as we were first introduced to her by RaiAnn in a late-night viewing of everyone’s favorite YouTube videos. Watching M3GAN eat up her choreography and the horror genre simultaneously, we were wonderstruck. How could we best pay homage to the living legend herself other than in the spirit of dance? From the moment we saw the promotional dancers for the movie looking like random women pulled from the street wearing Party City honey-blond wigs given five minutes to learn the choreography, we had our inspiration. In came Tufts Dance Collective, affectionately known as TDC.

The catch? Most themes for TDC dances incorporate a combination of two elements that mesh well together — see: SigMAs, aka Sigma males meets “Ma” (2019) with Octavia Spencer. Who could better maximize the power of M3GAN than her other Meg sisters, that is legends such as Megan Thee Stallion and Meghan Markle? From there, we actualized our vision into a dance titled M3GAN Thee Stallion. We laboriously spent time hunched over RaiAnn’s laptop on GarageBand, better known as “cooking in the stu,” curating the most immaculate soundtrack to accompany our spirited dance. Incorporating the promotional song for the movie — “It’s Nice To Have A Friend” (2019) by Taylor Swift — as our opening song, we were sure to have a killer performance.

As pop culture enthusiasts, we wanted to do justice to the dance by pulling in references from our iconic Megs while keeping the audience wanting more. This blended songs and pop culture sound bites including the iconic Oprah Winfrey interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry asking, “Were you silent or were you silenced?” Or the flawless interlude of Jennifer Coolidge’s performance in season one of “The White Lotus” (2021–) into “Her” (2022) by Megan Thee Stallion: “Oh, mother mother mother. My moth-HER.” High-energy moments came from the choreography of Megan Thee Stallion’s hits “Savage” (2020) and “Body” (2020) along with personal favorites such as “Megatron" (2019) by Nicki Minaj. Taking inspiration from the Vogue style of dancing, “Her” was turned into Jack’s favorite moments of the choreography. M3GAN’s signature sways and twirls were incorporated into the dance by including her cover of David Guetta’s “Titanium” (2011) while sprinkling in TDC’s quintessential crawl with a wink of irony.

In coordination with our dance, we were tasked with creating memorable and iconic costumes for 20 people under $80. The traditional route often includes bulk buying T-shirts and decorating with markers and fabric scissors to maximize our budget. However, given RaiAnn’s disdain for free T-shirts and adherence to sustainable fashion, another idea came into mind. The inspiration for the dance came from a trend predicted in RaiAnn’s “Fall/winter fashion 2021 revives old trends, looks to the future,” a play on balletcore. Thus came to be crop tops and short shorts adorned with bows in order to convey a dolly yet hot girl summer experience. The bows were certainly strategically placed in order to enhance certain aspects of our dancers and bring a playfulness to the stage.

As two unprofessional dancers with certainly no choreography experience, turning over a three-minute dance in six weeks felt like an enormous challenge. But the premise of TDC is a sense of student-led creativity without judgment. The dance could be essentially whatever we wanted such as doing the worm for one-fifth of the dance. TDC offered a free space to undertake a new creative medium for both of us with the support of our dancers and fellow club members. With each rehearsal, we felt more and more confident in our dancing ability to turn out a semi-coordinated performance. Tickets for the TDC showcase sold out in minutes and when the time for performance came, we made only a moderate number of minor mistakes. After we were all done, each dance was met with thunderous applause.

Tufts prides itself on interdisciplinary curricula and activities, and TDC most definitely checks the boxes as a dance-based group catering to those with little or no dance experience. We’re grateful to have had the opportunity to watch our piece come to life on stage and end Jack’s last semester of college with a stanky leg and split twerk. When you come to Tufts, don’t be afraid to try something new. As the old adage goes: Well-behaved Megs seldom make history.