Things you only know if you’re on a Stanford dance team

Smize at the ready

As a curious ProFro wandering around during Admit Weekend, I remember being wowed at Stanford’s Dance Expo. As someone with zero experience with hip-hop, I thought joining a dance team was far out of my reach.

However, when I arrived at Stanford in freshman fall, I decided to go to a dance workshop… and I wound up joining not just one dance team, but two (Common Origins aka CO and XTRM).

Close fam and incredible people

Over countless practices, I was able to meet and become friends with a multitude of different people ranging from freshmen to graduate students, many who I may not have met if I hadn’t joined the dance team.

Upperclassmen were invaluable resources, imparting advice on how to juggle schoolwork and extracurriculars to where to get boba (and the means to get you there; i.e. dance fam with cars- thank you, y’all are life-savers).


After a CO dance practice, crowding around the fan because we were just too hot ???

Boredom and loneliness begone

Dance group chats are full of awesomeness and entertainment. Once you’re in one, your phone will be constantly buzzing with endless notifications unless you muster up the will to mute it (I never could). No matter what time it is, someone is always up for a chat. Oftentimes, these chats take on a complete life of their own.

Furthermore, I can always spot members rocking dance swag everywhere on campus. The unity and community of dance kept me grounded during rough times so I didn’t get swept away in the hustle and bustle of college life.


We are not a cult, I swear. Featuring XTRM, pre-performance @ Parents’ Weekend Entertainment Extravaganza (PWEE) 2016

Close-knit SibFams

Within the overall dance group, in Common Origins’ case, we had SibFams made of upperclassmen mentors (aka Bigs) who were paired with freshmen/underclassmen mentees (aka Littles) by matching interests.

I have endless love for my Bigs and co-Little, having grown close from all the bonding over group lunches/dinners, boba runs, and study groups amidst exam stress.

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Long Live the Penguin SibFam ?  (All SibFams had spirit animals, don’t ask why)

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No more couch potato-ing

Dance is breather from all the psetting (abbreviation of doing problem sets) I had to do all the time, either sitting in front of the computer or scribbling formulas away on piles of looseleaf.

Having to bike across campus & attend 2 hr practices kept me active and prevented me from becoming a blob undergoing a constant cycle of eating, sleeping, potato-ing, and psetting (when I couldn’t procrastinate anymore).


De-stressing after a long day, fountain-hopping with dance peeps @The Claw

The skillz

Dancer’s growth is so real. I went from being a completely uncoordinated mess to performance ready in a few weeks. How? Student choreographers in my dance teams often devote a lot of time and effort to provide guidance and feedback, often offering re-teaching sessions and extra help. Their efforts helped me improve a lot as well as the collaborative atmosphere where everyone helped each other practice the pieces.

For all the time effort, the feeling of nailing that particularly difficult piece that seemed impossible during the first practice is always super rewarding. Plus, if you are super creative, you can show off some of your own choreo during CO’s Choreo Days and later audition to become a choreographer yourself.


Float like a butterfly… XTRM @ PWEE 2016

Also, it’s a plus that these skills come in handy on the dance floor at parties usually plagued with awkward dancing. Just adapt the move to the beat of the song and have fun. Sometimes, when a song comes on, you may see a bunch of dancers busting out a unified routine.

You know then that you got yourself a previous performance song. So join in and dance along!


CO @Breaking Ground 2015

What’s stage fright?

I also gained a lot of confidence from my experience. Dance taught me to trust muscle memory and just go for it during performances. It’s always amazing to see the performance videos and reflect on all the hard work (and maybe some panic) that goes into making everyone move cleanly and as unified as can be (not an easy feat for a 40+ people group like CO).


End of CO’s Breaking Ground 2015, Autumn Hip Hop Showcase

Talk the talk

Along with dance skills, one learns the jargon. From tutting to cleaning, dance vocabulary will change how you think about common terms. You may even start counting in 8s (ok, I’m exaggerating).

There’s also specific jargon and references unique to each dance team that you can only pick up by being part of it.


XTRM @ EnCounter Culture 2016

Work that smize

Promoting performances comes with the perks of high-quality photos and photo shoots. Talented student photographers are present at every major showcase and take pictures that are definitely prof pic/insta quality. Also, it’s also a lot of fun to coordinating dance outfits, figuring out the hassles of makeup (some guys have tried guyliner), and bond over the struggles of transitions’ outfit changes.

I always fangirl over how awesome everyone looks in performance photos and try to spot the wackiest, funkiest, craziest facial expressions.

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Prof pic & cover photo for CO’s 2015 Autumn Hip Hop Showcase as well as the struggles with eyeliner during XTRM PWEE 2016 performance prep

Through dance, I have made numerous invaluable friendships, joined a community that I can trust for support, and gained precious skills & knowledge. I have also been able to interact with countless other members of Stanford’s whole dance community, from other hip hop groups to swing dancing. So, join CO and/or XTRM (or any of the many wonderful dance teams available at Stanford) & catch our performances on youtube if you have any interest in dance and wanna know those dancers-only secrets.

#shamelessplug #co_xtrm #orcaninjas #underwatersquad #talkthetalk



Stanford University