A Lesson in Two Extremes

Break Out
Performed by Sympoh Urban Arts Dance Crew
Thursday (2/14) 9:30pm, Friday (2/15) 9:30pm, Saturday (2/16) 4:30pm and 9:30pm
Frist Film and Performance Theater
$7 for students, $10 for general public

 

April Hu is a former member of the Sympoh Urban Arts Dance Crew.

When putting on their yearly show, Sympoh faces a number of obstacles that are worth mentioning. Firstly, unlike BAC, Disiac, BodyHype, or eXpressions, Sympoh accepts a large number of students with no prior dance experience every year. In a period of roughly six months, they must not only train the newcomers in an entirely new dance form but must also prepare for a full-length show. Secondly, they must create pieces that dancers of varying experience levels are capable of learning. Thirdly, breaking is not particularly easy to choreograph, for reasons that will be discussed later on.

Break Out tries very hard to overcome these barriers, but it manages only to succeed to a very limited extent. Clocking in at roughly 1 hour and 40 minutes, the show seems inordinately long at times. There are moments when the show literally limps along, even as the dancers work desperately to keep the energy levels up. Missed cues, false starts, and severe coordination problems plague a majority of the pieces. At the performance I watched, some unprepared dancers kept staring at the people on the stage with them in an effort to recall the next sequence of moves. What, I wondered many times, is going on? Compounding my confusion were the constant references to the show title and theme of Break Out. Sympoh’s clumsy attempts to incorporate the show theme do nothing to enhance the quality of the dancing; in fact, they actually serve to detract from it by introducing unnecessary gimmicks.

I want to be clear here: this is not all Sympoh’s fault. Breakdancing is unlike other forms of dance in that it isn’t primarily a performance-based activity. The traditional venue for breakdancing is not a stage, but a battle arena. Dancers typically face one another as part of a complex competition that has strong, historical roots in improvisation. Breaking is about adapting to the beats and outdoing the opposing team or dancer, not about putting on a rehearsed show. You can imagine, then, that choreographing would be difficult, especially when the dancers aren’t technically supposed to be looking at the audience. Timing complicated footwork is even more difficult, since breakers are used to competing one on one or two on two. You don’t need to worry about coordination too much when it’s just you and one other person, but coordinating kick-outs and baby freezes with ten people on a stage is a whole different ball game. In this sense, Sympoh is given a greater challenge than dance groups that utilize more traditional, performance-oriented dance forms are.

Yet, when done correctly, choreography and breakdancing combine beautifully. David Wang ’14 presents a stunning, quiet display of precision and art in “All Mankind.” The piece begins with just three people on the stage, all done up to look like mimes. The smoothness of the transitions is a breath of fresh air on the heels of two messy opening performances. For each refrain, the dancers on the stage repeat the same sequence of motions, and you begin to understand a little bit of what David is trying to portray – aren’t we all just mimicking one another? Like mimes, you and I and the dancer without the makeup who spins slowly on the black floor seek to imitate people we’ve seen, people we wish to be.

Some other highlights include Brian Soames’ Snooze, which begins with a hilarious scene of Natasha Phidd ’13 in a bathrobe trying (and failing) to wake up a slumbering David. At one point, the two of them attempt to navigate a “sea” of swimming dancers, which undoubtedly reflects how many of us feel about waking up in the morning for class (as if we’re wading through a river of molasses). Their playfulness on the stage is really fun and doesn’t come off artificial in the way that a lot of the “comedic” moments in other pieces do. Natasha’s own piece, Got that Flava is high energy and aggressive, although there was a lighting issue that unfortunately left a portion of the dance in the dark. Ryan Armstrong’s GS Friends has some seriously impressive stunts and lifts, for those among you who enjoy things that look death-defying.

Ultimately though, Break Out suffers from being uneven in quality. The stellar pieces are clean, crisp, and a joy to watch, but their brilliance only painfully highlights those pieces that fall far short.

For seven dollars, Sympoh offers you the equivalent of Bertie Bott’s Jelly Beans. When it’s good, it’s amazing, and when it’s bad, it’s horrifying.

April Hu

About April Hu

April Hu ("Xiaonan" for those not intimidated by the X) is a junior in the Sociology department. She likes tea with milk and honey, fireplaces, cozy chairs, and people. She can be reached at xahu@princeton.edu.
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60 Responses to A Lesson in Two Extremes

  1. Nassau Literary Review says:

    The Nassau Literary Review would like to clarify some of the details surrounding this review. Our reviewer, April, was given permission to write the review by the president of Sympoh, who knew of her history with the group. Furthermore, we do not feel that April’s history with the group disqualifies the opinions regarding the show expressed in this review and stands fully behind it. We do, however, acknowledge that, given the situation, the opening paragraph could seem unnecessarily confrontational. We have therefore republished the review with edits made to the opening paragraph.

    We want to make clear that this edit does not in any way reflect on the quality of the rest of the review. On the contrary, we want to ensure that the attention focused on this small section, coupled with the connection between April and Sympoh, will distract from the valuable observations about the show contained in it. We hope that the change will allow raise the review above the controversy and allow it to stand on its own.

    • amen! says:

      Thanks nass lit! Enough with the jibber jabber lets go watch the sho- … oh nvm it’s over. Like this conversation?

    • Publication Ethics says:

      …so will you be running a correction stating what the paragraph initially said along with what the edits were? If not, I’m sure someone has a screenshot or a Google Cached version of it somewhere that we can use to compare. I’m not sure how April’s connection with Sympoh can be ignored at all, and I’m not sure how anyone is supposed to read the full body of the review without that first paragraph — or that last sentence — given the fact that you appear to be working so hard to cover both of these mishaps up. Retroactive changes to an article based on negative feedback does not a quality publication make.

    • Sympoh Pres says:

      Thank you for removing the first paragraph. April is surely free to express her opinions of the show as detailed in the rest of the critique and of dance in general.

      April informed us that she would be coming to the review not long before it happened, but it was unclear to us that there was any kind of permission being asked (perhaps an official NLR email would have been more clear and this miscommunication would have been avoided; this was done over a short phone call). With the impression that the NLR had simply sent her, I, like the NLR, hoped that April would be able to write a critical review without letting her own feelings about Sympoh being involved, and thus refocused attention to the duties at the time: spending 10+ hrs a day handling all aspects of the show. I believe the NLR as a publication should be focusing their attention on handling the ethics surrounding these things.

      I am writing to clear up your previous statement and thank you for your cooperation through an unpleasant experience. We have discouraged all our members from continuing to comment on this review.

  2. SympohFan says:

    I love Sympoh (and I’m not a Sympoh member)! As someone who is heavily involved with dance on campus and is a member of one of the “Big Four” dance groups, I am extremely confused by the first sentence of this article. Sympoh IS fully embraced as a dance group on campus and to argue otherwise is simply stupid. In fact, in my opinion, Sympoh is one of the stronger dance groups on campus. I have attended every Sympoh show during my time at Princeton, which is something I cannot say for any other dance group on campus. I don’t attend these shows because someone begged me to but instead, because Sympoh reminds me (again and again) why I love to dance. Though the dancers may not have completely mastered the choreo, they do have energy, passion, and stage presence. Watching people have fun while dancing is much more entertaining than watching people execute choreography perfectly. Sympoh’s shows (and particularly Break Out) embrace individuality. The fact that many of the dancers we watch on stage never danced before Princeton is incredible! Hey, learning choreography and dancing on stage in front of others is hard! So take a look at yourself before hating on others!

    Sympoh reminds us what dance is all about: having fun with family. One of the reasons I return to Sympoh’s shows is because their dancers improve from year to year, which speaks to the dedication and hard work each member invests into the craft of dance and into helping each other become better dancers. This is simply inspiring! Though I may have attended my first Sympoh show because a friend asked me to watch her dance for the first time, it definitely wasn’t just that one friend who turned me into a Sympoh fan. Keep doing what you’re doing Sympoh!

    • but... says:

      I agree that it is really cool that Sympoh gives people the chance to dance, but I don’t think that that means that what the reviewer is doing here is “hating.” She certainly knows that dancing is hard– from the comments, I gather that she’s a dancer herself. She’s simply judging the show based on an established way for judged shows. Are you going to tell me that dance shows aren’t judged based on how well the pieces are executed? What would be the point of saying one show is “good” if we can’t make such comparisons. The point of a review to assess the quality of a show, and I think this reviewer does just that.

      • I think says:

        She? meant only about the first paragraph. I think too that the rest of the review is a legit review but the first paragraph before it was changed was pretty off the walls and wasn’t about the show and made all of us dancers look bad. Didn’t feel right for someone to say that about anyone. Good job nlit.:-D

  3. Anonymous says:

    April, this is one of the most accurate, well-written reviews of any show I have ever seen. The lack of coordination and obvious absence of appropriate preparation were apparent, and your articulation thereof is phenomenal. Moreover, your critique of the show is constructive and sheds a substantial amount of insight on multiple problems Sympoh as an organization–not just a dance group–faces: a deteriorating image on campus, a lack of commitment, poor advertising, an inadequate audition process, and the coordination, choreography, and plot problems pervasive throughout the show. In short, this article perfectly describes the phenomenal degree of frustration I felt as an audience member at the show. Thank you!

    P.S. A bad review sucks, but it also sucks to suck.

    • come to session says:

      And we’ll talk about how “it should be done”, April. Ummm I mean anon.

      • Seriously? says:

        Um… April has responded several times using her own name. What is wrong with you? No wonder the person (whoever they are) put anonymous, who’d want to be subjected to the vicious online hatred of sympoh?

      • anon says:

        The whole point in a review is not to say how it should have been. It’s not to provide tips on how to improve it, but rather be an assessment on the quality of the performance. If she thinks it was subpar, then she should be able to say so without people making personal attacks. It is not her responsibility to provide Sympoh with advice, but rather it is her responsibility to the readers of Nass Lit to give a frank appraisal of the show and whether or not it’s worth seeing. I could care less how Sympoh could have improved. I’m more interested in reading her thoughts on the show so that I know whether I will actually enjoy it or be wasting a Saturday evening.

        Also, it would seem that a majority of the comments are from Sympoh sympathizers/members. Have any of you even bothered to read some of the other content on the website? If not, then it would seem that your comments stem primarily from your shock that this review is not the free publicity for which you were hoping/are used to. It seems almost hypocritical to allow a poorly-written review praising the show to be published, but not allow a review criticizing it. At the end of the day, such hostility towards criticism only makes us wonder if your group is actually talented or merely supported by friends of the performers.

    • right says:

      Sympoh’s image on campus is blowing up!! Did you see them at Aspire? Commitment? You mean only the strong will continue on. Everyone knows breaking is difficult. Advertisement was phenominal as attested by the sold out theaters. It’s nearly impossible to determine the best bboys out of 100 ppl with no experience. You’ll have to be more specific about which choreographers had “problems”. Coordination was phenominal, espescially given the short show production time! Plot problems? When was the last time you saw a dance company put together a show with any plot at all? That’s quite a bit of coordination.

      • Here here says:

        I agree, if you want specific examples: BodyHype doesn’t even have a show title, ever; diSiac has a simple show title that gives a very broad theme to their many varied piece. Those are the only two other companies I’ve seen (other than at Tiger Night) other than Sympoh, and I like both strategies. Sympoh may try a little too hard at trying to create a plot in comparison to those other dance groups, that I’d agree with. I’d prefer unadulterated fun and the pure enjoyment of dance, as do others, but to only mention that Sympoh has those issues is pure ignorance, especially given the fact that they are unique in their situation in accepting many of those with little dance experience. I’d say “Anonymous” ‘s ignorance could easily be interpreted as blind hatred. Also, April lacks an appreciation for breakdancing, is ignorant of international group breakdancing choreography and commandos, and her review suffers from a mindset that these pieces are doomed to fail, calling them “horrifying” before the first show. All this despite her former involvement with Sympoh makes her a less-than-competent writer and researcher.

  4. an alum of sympoh says:

    i agree the first paragraph is…less than tactful, and pretty offensive, especially while you’re sweating and injuring yourself putting on a show. bad reviews hurt, and hurt hard. i can entirely understand being upset by that.

    but the rest of the criticism and praise (yes, there is praise…she praised the pieces that she liked) is entirely valid. instead of flaming her with ad hominem attacks in an embarrassingly unprofessional manner, you should be using the time and energy to drill and make sure your actual show is as awesome as i know it can be.

    you guys are arguing history? the entire raison d’etre of a bboy is respect. to battle and earn respect. to smoke others and earn their respect. these comments are the written equivalent of kicking someone in the balls during a baby freeze…and actually make me lose respect. next time, grow up. keep it real, and prove her wrong, not by attacking her and this article, but by putting on a show that wows everybody.

    • watched the show says:

      Yo alum. Idk if you watched the livestream. They killed it in the show. They smoked it like never before! Many comments came after the show. They’re burners if you please. Dude, Sympoh’s a legit crew. They’ll take criticism and they definently battle back but you bet yourself that as bboys they’ll bring burns! Man can you imagine this chick saying this about five crew? Hell, these kids reactions are rather tame if you ask me!

  5. Someone with Dance Experience (and not an ex-dancer of Sympoh) says:

    I’d like to address the angry commenters from outsiders perspective:
    Most of you seem distressed by primarily the first paragraph (anyone distressed about the rest doesn’t understand the point of a review), and I can get why that would be. Whether it was necessary or not is up to debate, but, I kind of see her point. If I was to pick a dance group to see from a list, I’d see diSiac or BAC because, as an ensemble, they ARE more put together and more talented as a group. Sympoh has a couple incredible dancers, and several mediocre or lesser ones, therefore, as an ensemble they are weaker. I think that’s a fair observation to make, and could be seen as an attempt to excuse the somewhat basic errors such as not knowing choreography. That being said, I think the WAY April phrased it was a little extreme. Saying people only go for their friends was unnecessary, and instead of saying it’s never been embraced as a dance group, is going to far. Perhaps better would be a comment that it is, by nature, not quite as talented of a dance group (for the reasons she listed).
    I think voicing the concerns and disagreements about the first paragraph are fair. Now I’d like to address the members of Sympoh, and the officers in hope that you will help curtail your group’s behavior: your behavior right now is out of line and immature. As I understand it from the comments, she reviewed the show by coming to a run-through? In my experience, aren’t you aware when reviewers come? Did you voice concerns about a conflict of interest then, or only now, in nasty, personal insults over the web only AFTER getting a bad review? Why did you let her review in the first place if you’re so concerned? The answer is you weren’t. You weren’t until you received a negative review, at which point it’s too late. I’m sorry, but the rest of the review was perfectly fair. Don’t insult the writer because of some badly thought-out opening sentences and an honest, negative review you don’t like (that even included positive critique as well, it wasn’t even wholly negative!). I understand your anger but it does not excuse your behavior. Neither anonymity nor anger gives you the right to be nasty. To those commenters who limited themselves to reasonable disagreements this does not go to you, but those who became insulting and vicious, you went too far. I’m very unimpressed and have no desire to support your group in the future. Think about the public image you display. It matters.

    • Bravo! says:

      Nicely said. I couldn’t agree more; anger does not excuse their behavior. Individual members of Sympoh need to seriously consider how their comments reflect their group’s ideals. April clearly wrote a couple of tasteless sentences, but that does not justify the vicious backlash.

      • hi says:

        Before she told them it was a mistake, they thought she was making fun of one of their members for getting injured and I would have been pissed if someone had wrote that about my company. I don’t disagree that some comments are mean but many may easily have been people trying to spit back after such a horrible insult on one of their injured members, at least that’s what I got from reading this. I mean that her mistaken comment was way more vicious than anything anyone else said afterwards.

        • April says:

          Only one poster mentioned the possibility of my line referring to LG’s injury, and that was not among the first comments. Up until that point, I had no idea the sentence could be interpreted in such a way. I immediately clarified that such a vicious attack was not at all a part of my intent. I would like to think that if the earlier reviewers thought that I had been so rude as to laugh at an injury, they would have mentioned it.

          Your comment makes me uncomfortable, because you appear to still be under the assumption that I meant the personal attack, when I absolutely did not. I cannot stress that enough. I would never make light of a person’s injury.

          I have endured a number of personal attacks in the comments section in the past few days, but nothing has cut as deeply as the idea that people think I would be capable of doing something as despicable as laughing at a person’s physical pain. The line was meant to be a figure of expression for my thoughts about the show–they were never meant to be attached to any individual in Sympoh.

          • hi says:

            Nah I know what you mean. Just making sure everyone knew what some of the attacks might have come from. Like those commenters could have easily made mistakes like your semantic mistake, especially if they hadn’t read the comments first. Do you understand that I understand but that other people might not ? Lol

        • ..... No one brought that up until a few nasty comments in says:

          …..

    • standards says:

      Unfortunately, there is much more to the situation than an outsider understands and it would be unfair to all parties involved to reveal the details of April’s relationship with Sympoh.

      The majority of the group was unaware that April was coming for a review. The few officers that were aware were hoping that she would be able to give a critical and objective (or at least an attempt at being objective) review. There was never permission given, we were simply informed she’d be in the audience.

      Also, it is the ultimately NLR’s responsibility to make sure that there is no conflict of interest. As a publication, they should have investigated her past dance experience if they planned to send someone with “dance experience.” If they had done so, they’d have realized that she had some experience in beginner breaking, which would have led to her revealing that she spent a short time with Sympoh.

      • April says:

        Your point about permission is factually inaccurate. I called the president of Sympoh and requested if I could write a review of the show for the Nassau Literary Review. There were six to seven witnesses for this conversation as it took place over the phone. The president’s response was that I was welcome to review and that I should come to the Tuesday night run-through.

        I at no point demanded to be allowed the review the show or implied that I had already received permission from someone other than the president. You can argue there may have been miscommunication or misunderstanding, but stating that I did not obtain permission and rudely inserted myself into the run-through is simply false.

        The NLR will be releasing an official statement on the circumstances of this review soon, but I ask that you please not spread inaccurate information around.

      • Dance Experience Again says:

        I may not understand all of the surrounding situation, but I do understand online bullying and unnecessary rudeness. And you’re saying she can’t be objective as a former member but you can be as a current member, and that it was good, therefore she was clearly being biased by writing a review with negative critique? Can you please see the twisted logic you’re using? I can’t even write it out coherently! My point was that any concerns about conflict of interest should have been raised BEFORE the review was written, not after. Otherwise, the writer is obliged to write only a positive review. By giving her permission to write the review, you give her permission to write as nasty or as nice a review as she wants. End of story. My other point was that online harassment is never excusable, and that still stands.

        • standards again says:

          I agree that some comments were as tactless as the review and as I mentioned, our crew has officially discouraged any member from writing things like that. There have been several people outside the company who were upset about the review as well, and those comments do not represent our views.

          I also never made the claim that a review must be good… as you said, there were positive moments in the review. I also never made the claim that I can be objective as a current member. April did not “obtain permission” as she is publicly saying, nor did she forcibly inject herself into the rehearsal.

          We are giving her permission to write her feelings on the show. We are not, however, giving her permission to write what she thinks the public opinion of the group is (at least not without evidence) and thus were most upset with the first paragraph, which has now been removed.

    • standards cont'd says:

      I’d also like to add that the people who have been confirmed as Sympoh members (one proud sympoh member, sympoh AD etc) have given sound and professional arguments against things written in this article. As a group, we’ve been discouraged from commenting on this article and have agreed that, if it’s really necessary, to simply address points in the article.

      “Did you voice concerns about a conflict of interest then, or only now, in nasty, personal insults over the web only AFTER getting a bad review? Why did you let her review in the first place if you’re so concerned? The answer is you weren’t.”

      Like you said, we’re primarily distressed by the first paragraph. Even if the rest of the review had been positive, overall statements about the group based on April’s personal feelings have no place in journalistic writing. You’re right – we weren’t concerned with her putting up statements like that, and if she hadn’t, there wouldn’t be this kind of frustration with the review.

      • Dance Experience Again says:

        I did mention, in the bottom of my first comment, that my critique was not leveled at those using reasonable disagreements. That’s completely fine (such as this conversation with you, for example, which is completely fair and I respect you for it). The more vitriolic ones were the disturbing and disappointing ones. I’m glad your group has decided to address those issues.
        And again, I do get your distress with the first paragraph, it was clearly tasteless.

        • April says:

          Re: The first paragraph, I apologized for the phrasing in one of my comments (I know, there are quite a few) and have edited the paragraph to more accurately reflect the idea I was trying to convey. I thank everyone who has brought the problem to my attention, since that was absolutely a fair and valid critique.

  6. The Rebellion says:

    The notion of the big four is merely a political artifact of PAC’s influence, a grossly biased empowerment of four groups made possible only through a corrupt constitution. Dismemberment of the tyrannical government, which has spawned these elitist sentiments and numerous other evils soon to be revived from their decade old graves, is our one goal. Soon we will restore harmony and equity, but sooner still we bring overdue ruination upon those corrupt.

    Hu, as with us all, is only a victim of our authority’s bending of perception. Preventing the spread of elitist views is the only cure to our clouded minds.

  7. not buying it. says:

    The fact that you still wont acknowledge that you were an ex-sympoh member in your bio blurb is interesting. I think you just wanted attention, because I honestly do not get what your purpose was in writing the review. Good thing you dont write for the Daily Princetonian, otherwise I would be concerned that people would actually read this junk…

    • April says:

      My bio is supposed to be a two-sentence, short, whimsical little description. I write on other things besides Sympoh, so to fix my bio to appease a handful of people is hardly worth it. Do you see any mention of any activities that I participate in on campus in that bio? No? Why should I amend it to add an ex-member status, then? Besides, anyone reading the comments would know that I have fully acknowledged my previous involvement with the group and leaving due to disagreements. But I suppose you haven’t read my responses to other members in the group, given the content of your comment.

      And I wanted attention so badly that I didn’t advertise this article at all. Yes, do continue.

  8. A Proud Sympoh Member says:

    April, I, like so many others, joined Sympoh because it’s one of the best dance groups I’ve ever seen. They blew every act out of the water when I saw them perform prefrosh weekend. Everyone I know has nothing but the utmost respect for Sympoh.

    Your claim that “expectations are low” shows that you are taking this from a very select sampling. I got an email today from a freshman that said, “My expectations are high.” Sympoh has been hand-selected to represent Princeton at a number of important events this year. We often perform paid gigs. We are a now a semi-professional dance company. People who pay us are thrilled. Our current leadership received a note from an event organizer saying, “Your performance was beyond my wildest expectations…”

    I remember hearing about all of your personal conflicts with the leadership a few years ago. I was surprised when you worked sound for the show last year, but it really seemed like you were only doing that because you wanted Tash and David to respect you, despite all you had put the group through.

    As we told you on Tuesday, we had three injured dancers. LG is in 4 pieces, and each one had a stand-in who had just learned the choreo minutes before going onstage. It is not unreasonable that they would look to others for help along the way. You were informed of all of this, yet you chose to ignore it. This indicates that you had something to get off your chest before you sat down to watch the show.

    Even if you had loved Sympoh, having such a close involvement still makes you biased. It doesn’t matter how hard you try to be objective, it is completely irresponsible of the editors to allow you to write a review.

    • April says:

      I have heard positive things about Sympoh’s individual performances this year, however, expectations for the annual show itself have generally been lower than for other groups. This is the point I was trying to make–my comment was show-specific, independent of standalone performances consisting of one or two pieces. I apologize if I was unclear about that. Everything in the review pertains to the quality of Sympoh’s show(s), not anything else.

      I do not understand why people keep saying I desire respect from Tash or David. Does everyone think that’s a life goal of mine? To act and give up time all for the sake of impressing two people I haven’t even conversed with for the past six or seven months? I did sound for Sympoh, because I knew how much effort people had put into the show and wanted to help out. It didn’t matter who asked–I would have said yes, regardless. Please don’t cheapen my actions by labeling them as desperate ploys for goodwill. If I cared do much about garnering their respect and friendship, would my review have been what it is?

      You did not, in fact, inform me three dancers were injured. I knew of only LG’s injury, and surely his non-presence on the stage could not account for looks of confusion in more than four pieces. If you would like to add now that there were multiple dancers injured, taken out, and replaced, I can certainly make a note of it in the review. But I was most assuredly not informed of more than LG’s injury. You can’t hold me accountable for what I was not made aware of.

      You can argue it was irresponsible of the editors to let me write–that’s your opinion, and you’re perfectly entitled to it. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  9. Matt Goldsmith says:

    I am sure I have a biased opinion as to the rest of the show, but in response to the first paragraph I can say that I completely disagree. I remember seeing Sympoh at This Side of Princeton during Princeton Preview and thinking they were the sickest dance crew up there. That reaction was the same reason why I tried out. Even after being rejected the first time, I thought they were so impressive that I came to sessions for a semester and tried out again to finally get in. I think that the crew consistently brings energy and skills, and that people are going to love the fall show.

  10. April says:

    To all the commenters so far: Thank you for the feedback.

    I want to clarify that my history with Sympoh has had no impact on my review. I enjoyed my time with the group and did part ways with it due to disagreements, but I will forever be grateful to it for having introduced me to dance. I understand how much time, effort, and love went into this show, and this was not meant to be an insult to the performers. You have worked hard and you are all doing the best that you can, but I wanted to be honest about what I saw, and what I saw was a show that did struggle to be performed. It may be that everyone was exhausted, which impacted how it was delivered that night, but it doesn’t change that there were clearly mistakes made on a level that wasn’t pleasurable to observe.

    When I evaluated the performance, I evaluated it as objectively as I could. Is anyone going to disagree with me that there were plenty of synchronization mistakes and poorly timed moves? Is anyone going to disagree with me that dancers on the stage did look to others, because they forgot their choreography? This is something that even the Prince review agrees with. I don’t understand where the problem stems from, seeing as how these mistakes were clearly observable.

    @AD: My comment was not a laugh at LG’s injury. It was a poorly chosen word, but I would never mean to deliberately mock someone I respect for his ability and dedication to the group. I didn’t realize people would interpret it that way when I first wrote the review. I never stated that dance was not a cooperation between groups, but people do expect different levels of professionalism/ability from different dance groups. And surely, you would be aware of this. I did not include information about the cause that the group is supporting, because I judged it irrelevant to a review about the ~quality~ of the dance. I can apologize for the pointed language of the review, but I will not apologize for writing about the mistakes that I saw that night.

    @Pay attention: I mentioned other pieces that were also really well-choreographed, or did you skip over the part about LG and Juice? I did not say the other pieces were NOT well-choreographed, simply that the execution was messy. In fact, I didn’t pass judgment on any of the other pieces in terms of choreography. The competitions you pointed out do take place on the stage, but in general, they aren’t “performed” the same way ballet is performed or modern dance is performed. Or do you deny that the competitors look at one another quite a bit more frequently than dancers of other types do? My point about choreography and breaking also stands. In general, breakers do interact with the audience, but they primarily focus on the other competitor(s) in the arena. I understand you’re upset, but I have no desire to “suck up” to anyone in the group. David and Natasha are both heavily invested in Sympoh–do you think that just complimenting them would have made them happy when the review as a whole was rather negative of the show they worked on? I liked their pieces, because (as you note) they were well-done. Had they not been well-done, I wouldn’t have complimented them.

    Learn to write: Thank you for the comment on my writing. I never claimed to be a phenomenal writer, and your critique has been duly noted.

    To the other reviewers: To clarify my first paragraph (which is where I think the charges of elitism stem from), I acknowledge the last sentence was unnecessary, but it was a reflection of what I have heard other people on campus say. It’s not my personal opinion. I also state “fairly or unfairly” in the first sentence, which I think people have missed. I apologize for any confusion that my phrasings may have caused.

  11. This is Tash. says:

    Hello April!

    Hey, yeah.

    This review is crap and you know it.

    Have a great night!

  12. One Sympoh member says:

    April, I really respect your opinions of the show itself, both positive and negative. Next year’s ADs will try to make the show more concise and less gimmicky. Choreographers can work on improving their “comedic moments.” I don’t doubt that some dancers looked confused at points during the runthrough (though all that is fixed now for opening night!). And I’m glad you liked David’s, Juice’s, Tash’s, and Goose’s pieces.

    But the first paragraph makes me sad. In your passively worded characterization of Sympoh as a group that “has never been fully embraced as a true dance group on campus” (what is it then? an a capella group?) I think you mean that you yourself never considered us a true dance group. If that’s the case, I’m sorry that you felt you wasted a year of your time in a fake dance group. I’m sorry that you had low expectations for us as a group and for yourself while you were here. I’m sorry that you feel like it is a burden to buy tickets to support your friend in a show.

    Unlike modern dance or hip-hop, very few people come to Princeton with breaking experience. It’s just not something that Ivy-League-bound high-schoolers tend to do. So, naturally, as you point out, we tend to accept a higher proportion of auditionees with no experience than do other dance groups. Yet it is remarkable how much our new members learn in the course of a semester of two (at least, those who work hard at learning to break) and we always put on a fantastic show in a style performed by no other dance group on campus. Simply characterizing Sympoh as “less exclusive, therefore lower quality” is overly simplistic and ignorant of the difference in style.

    You have some good insights, April. But next time you write a review, don’t start by patronizing the dance group that welcomed you to Princeton.

  13. April Hu, pay attention to this one. says:

    “The traditional venue for breakdancing is not a stage, but a battle arena”

    lol. you actually have zero idea about ANYTHING regarding breaking. it’s hilarious!
    Apparently you have never heard of BOTY or RedBull BC One, which are MAJOR bboying
    competitions that, guess what, TAKE PLACE ON A STAGE. OH AND THEY DO ROUTINES THAT FACE THE AUDIENCE TOO SINCE APPARENTLY THAT IS WHAT MAKES DANCE DANCE.

    “Breaking is about adapting to the beats and outdoing the opposing team or dancer, not about putting on a rehearsed show. You can imagine, then, that choreographing would be difficult, especially when the dancers aren’t technically supposed to be looking at the audience. Timing complicated footwork is even more difficult, since breakers are used to competing one on one or two on two.”

    ^Again, you are making extremely ignorant claims. Do your research! I am actually embarrassed for you that this is attached to your name. For someone who was formally in Sympoh, you should know your breaking history…but I guess since your personal history with breaking is null and void, a review like this should have been expected.

    This is clearly a personal attack against a group you left on your own terms but in way that left a bitter taste in everyone else’s mouths. Instead of actively critiquing the dancing and entertainment value of the many pieces of this colorful show, you decided to pull out all the stops to make it clear that you have beef with Sympoh and that you would crap on the hard work of these untrained dancers no matter how good they are. Also, could you BE MORE OBVIOUS in trying to suck up to David and Tash? It is so clear that you are trying to get back on good terms with them, that of COURSE you are going to only highlight their pieces. While they are clearly very well-choreographed and well-danced pieces, you are casting unnecessary shade on the many other pieces that were just as good.

    Totally biased review. Nass Lit, seriously? Think this through next time, really.

    And Ms. Hu, Get a clue.
    Confused?
    Let me google that for you.

    http://lmgtfy.com/?q=get+a+clue

  14. sympoh AD says:

    April Hu, I did not invite you to do a review of our show for this particular reason. The act of reviewing a group from which you had previously been a part of, been elected to a position for, and then ditched right before the year started without finding a replacement for yourself. You unprofessionally left our group on bad terms and the act of reviewing your ex-group is completely unprofessional. We have not provoked you and there is absolutely no reason for you to say hurtful words to your (ex)friends and (ex)family.

    Other papers that reviewed our group were carefully conscious about checking for such conflicts of interest. Not only do your actions reflect poorly for yourself but poorly upon your paper. Respecting the Lit’s comment, I recommend the Review to rethink the consequences of their actions upon their fellow students and their own standing.

    April, In all ways, I wish you the best of luck. Please, rethink your actions. It is also never too late to apologize.

    PS Loose Goose got mccoshed and put in an ankle brace the night before your review and you made fun of him for “literally limping”.

    PPS You seem to forget that the dance community is not a competition between groups but a collaboration to bring art and culture to our campus. I am sure BH, Disi, BAC, EXP, 888, Bhangra, Naacho, HS, etc. all agree with this sentiment. You were once a part of this collaboration but I think you missed the main point of the existence of our dance groups.

    PPPS You forgot to mention that this Sympoh show is actually saving real Kenyan mothers, daughters, and sons from death and disease. Your inconsiderate, harmful words have only driven a divide between yourself and the goodwill that lies in the hearts of all Sympoh members. You were given the responsibility to provide for those who are suffering, those who are dying, but instead you used your power of the press irresponsibly, with complete disregard for the health of those who we serve. Note that I do not mean that negative comments are not welcome, but that criticism of good deeds must always be given with careful decency. Decency and care for the plight of your fellow man, like breakdancing, is not a talent given at birth, but Sympoh teaches both of these.

  15. realtalk. says:

    They should probably have people who are actually INVOLVED in the dance community write these reviews, not some wannabe dance critique that gave up on dance because it was too hard.This isnt even an ethically fair review – April was in Sympoh and quit because disagreements occuring within the group…well, that and the painfully obvious fact that she couldnt break. She knows nothing of the bboying/bgirling culture, which is evident from her claims in this poor excuse for a review. Next time, do your homework before making declarations that are not factual. Also, until I see you choreograph a piece for a dance company here, your reviews will be used as my doormat when im wiping crap off of my shoes. And by crap I also mean your review.

    • standards cont'd says:

      More importantly, why didn’t Nass Lit know about April’s connection with Sympoh?

      If you send someone based on dance experience, you should know what that dance experience is (or at least the style of dance they are experienced in). If the editors did this they’d probably have found out that April used to be in Sympoh and quit.

  16. Learn to write says:

    “Like mimes, you and I and the dancer without the makeup who spins slowly on the black floor seek to imitate people we’ve seen, people we wish to be.”

    This is actually terrible. I’m glad you put this in here, because it lets me know not to take your reviews seriously.

  17. spaghetti says:

    TASSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

  18. Andrew Cheong says:

    Interesting. A handful of these comments were posted from the future.

  19. impressed says:

    I saw them dance at Frist! They were incredible! I had no clue we had breakdancers in Princeton. They really gave us a performance. Definitely looking forward to the show!

  20. CAWWW says:

    Heard Sympoh really stepped up their game after the run-through. Super stoked to see what they prepared this year!

  21. anon says:

    Someone please tell April to stop being so stuck-up and witchy-with-a-b. Was this article just a giant diarrhea of her feelings toward sympoh? Because it certainly was not a completely objective evaluation of the run-through.

  22. Collin Stedman Collin Stedman says:

    Hey guys,

    We understand that some may disagree with this review. April and everybody else on the staff would love to hear your take on the show. However, we must remind you to refrain from profanity and other inappropriate posts on this blog. This is a forum for intellectual discussion. If you disagree with April, spell out your reasons and try to avoid name-calling. Comments will be moderated for content.

    Thanks,
    -the mods

    • standards says:

      Why doesn’t she spell out reasons for her insults? This is hardly an objective review when half of it is based upon her opinion and “what she has heard people say.” Half the article was irrelevant to the critique of the show.

    • standards cont'd says:

      just to be clear, i don’t think saying choreo being off or performance being lackluster is an insult (regardless of the bias she may have had while viewing). the insults were saying sympoh is not seen as a real dance group, that people don’t want to come to our shows, and that some of the dancing was horrifying (which, as i previously mentioned, are not in any way an objective review of the show). hearsay and hyperbolic subjectivity have no place in critiques.

      • April says:

        First of all, your problem with my article is mainly with my first paragraph and the last sentence of my review. I hardly think that’s “half” of the review. Second of all, the purpose of the first paragraph was to give a brief outline of the problems Sympoh faces when giving an annual show, which I think would be relevant to the review. Thirdly, a review is inherently subjective–it reflects the author’s opinion on a given performance or product; you might not have found some of the mistakes horrifying, but I certainly did. When dancers are four to five seconds off in choreography, it’s absolutely painful to watch. When people forget the moves and stand on the stage awkwardly half-dancing, it’s kind of horrifying. It was not a hyperbole on my part, but an actual reflection of what I thought of certain parts of the show. Should I have censored my true opinions?

        Lastly, people keep mentioning my “bias”. I want to point out that I left Sympoh two years ago, and have borne it no ill will since. Had I actually had a negative bias and relationship with Sympoh, would I have managed sound for the show they put on last year, because their sound manager dropped last minute? Think about it. Your accusations of bias are meaningless if you cannot prove them.

        • whut says:

          By 4-5 seconds off, did you mean that a cannon happened?

        • history says:

          so you volunteered to help out with sound, cool. but…

          didn’t you mess up the sound as well? and then cry? yea that totally happened. you messed up the sound. then cried. then left sympoh forever. then wrote a scathing review. then forgot to tell nasslit about your c’s of interests. then tried to cover your ass so the nass lit doesn’t fire you and you don’t gather even more dirt on yourself for the rest of the world to see. unsuccessfully. and cut. the tragedy of April hu.

          • April says:

            I think you’re confusing me with Amy. I was asked to cover for her after she quit; to my understanding, she did break down before leaving the sound to me.

            Feel free to check with other sympoh members, but I do believe you have your information mixed up. There’s really no dirt here at all.

          • an alum says:

            for the record, this wasn’t her; she filled in last second for sound because the original sound manager messed up the sound.

        • standards says:

          If you find that horrifying, you shouldn’t be writing reviews for Princeton dance groups.

  23. huh?^2 says:

    Not sure whether trolling or actually an elitist….

  24. huh? says:

    “Sympoh, fairly or unfairly, has never been fully embraced as a true dance group on campus. Unlike BAC, Disiac, BodyHype, or eXpressions, they actually accept a large number of people who have zero dance experience, which means that when it comes to Sympoh’s yearly show, expectations are typically low, or at least lower than they are for other groups. You buy a ticket to support your friend who’s picked up dancing for the first time and really wants you to be there to see her on the stage, not because you actually have much interest in going.”

    Wow, this isn’t elitist… snobbery or anything.

    And no mention of Trevor Klee anywhere? He was one of the best dancers in the show. Plus he’s a stud.

    April doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

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