Eccentric moves, smooth flow
blog by UB Spectrum • January 30, 2012 @ 12:43am
Dance teams usually have a habit of sticking to one genre. Whether it’s hip-hop, dancehall, jazz, or swing, that team is going to specialize and perfect that one style because that’s who they are.
This team is different.
This team practices everything from the aggressive style of krumping to the visually aesthetic form of ballet. When it first came UB, this collage of a dance team – which was brought together by one freshman – captivated students.
It isn’t hip-hop, classical, or tribal, but rather crazy, absurd, and energetic.
It’s Eccentric Flow, UB’s premier dance team.
The Jamaican from Suffolk
Most dance teams were part of SA clubs before Eccentric Flow formed in 2007. Clubs such as the Caribbean SA and the now-defunct Hip-Hop SA had their own popular dance offshoots.
However, the team felt it was incomplete when it noticed the talents of a freshman who had just transferred from Suffolk Community College. He amazed the crowds with his dance moves at parties, and before long, he was approached by many clubs to join their dance teams.
But this freshman was by no means a follower. Elijah Coleman was going to interpret dance in his own terms. So he decided to start a dance team of his own – one that didn’t follow just one genre.
“I always wanted something that I could call my own,” Coleman, a senior dance and theatre major, said. “I wanted to train them and make them more than just a hip-hop team…I just walked around asking people on campus, and asking people [if they danced]. I always wanted certain people to be on the team because I wanted to make an impact. So I single-handedly picked people to be on my team.”
Coleman started recruiting from CSA, Hip-Hop SA, and multiple sources to start his own crew. The Long Island native barely had any experience doing anything of the sort, but he eventually came up with eight members.
It wasn’t too long after its inception that Eccentric Flow started to gain notice. A dance team that could perform to both dancehall and soca music was rare in Buffalo.
“When they came about I remember people would get so excited to watch them perform because you never knew what you would get,” said Shanique Pierre, former president and current graduate advisor for the CSA. “It was the first time since I been in Buffalo that a group was actually dancing to soca. A lot of them were not even Caribbean, yet they would [get excited] when the soca or the reggae came on.”
On The Map
Coleman says Eccentric Flow has had approximately 200 members during its run. The team is not limited to UB students, since SA doesn’t fund it. Students from Buffalo State, Canisius College, as well as non-students, are also invited to make contributions to the team.
The help from its multiple members has allowed Eccentric Flow to maintain a strong rapport with the SA clubs. The team has performed as a part of Black Student Union, African Student Union, and CSA events.
Eccentric Flow has especially maintained close ties to the CSA. Denasha Callender, a senior biological sciences major and CSA’s current secretary, and Collin Read, a junior sociology major and current CSA King, are also members of Eccentric Flow’s executive board.
The dance team’s biggest contribution to the CSA, and perhaps the entire student body, was its performance at the 2010 International Fiesta. Eccentric Flow performed as an exhibition act for CSA at the competition, but nonetheless amazed the audience with its flashy performance.
“It’s been so long since CSA performed on that stage,” Coleman said. “And when I say ‘We brought it,’ we brought it. I felt like we would’ve won that year if were allowed to compete.”
The performance benefitted the CSA immensely. The club has been long building its reputation and Eccentric Flow’s performance cemented CSA as a top SA club.
“Eccentric Flow has always helped us out when it came to performances and doing shows for CSA,” Pierre said. “When CSA participated in International Fiesta two years ago, Coleman along with the rest of the team came up with an amazing showcase [and] we were able to perform and show everyone that CSA alongside it on the map.”
Eccentric Flow’s performance at the 2011 Black Explosion – BSU’s annual fashion show – and its first place performance at the UB Thinks You Can Dance competition in 2010 are two more of its most recognizable performances.
Ebbs and Flows of the Eccentric
Dancing was an acquired skill for a lot of Eccentric Flow’s members.
Read, one of the team’s standout dancers, was extremely nervous when he first auditioned for the team. The dancer remembered that his performance was bad enough to almost get him cut.
“[The audition video] is on Facebook and you can look at it and laugh at me,” Read said. “It was a mess.”
Read was accepted into the team partially because of his friends’ support. But Read and Callender found out that the auditions were only the beginning – dancing for Eccentric Flow would get much harder.
Sharp personalities accompanied the team’s wide range of talents. This led to arguments and altercations, or “throw downs” as Coleman calls them.
“Personalities clash on a regular basis, because we all are very strong-minded and stubborn,” Callender said. “We’re like a big happy dysfunctional family.”
Practice sessions also proved to be difficult at times. During the week of a big performance, Eccentric Flow starts “Hell Week.” The team practices every day during that week instead of its usual every other day schedule. The team then practices overnight right before the competition to meet the standard of perfection.
“That’s where your time and dedication comes into play,” Read said. “You got to be there, you got to work hard. I’ve had some sweat, I’ve had some tears, I’ve had busted knees – both of them wide open, bleeding, with a show in a couple of hours.”
Eccentric Flow has funded itself off of fundraisers, pay from SA clubs, and money out of the member’s own pockets. Coleman said he usually gives the team some of his own money just so it can be able to travel to competitions or proudly wear its namesake on clothing.
Coleman looks fondly upon the fact that he was able to maintain his self-funded team for five years.
“It wasn’t until my fifth year of college that I actually looked back at all the videos of E-Flow and realized how much they’ve grown,” Coleman said. “I was like ‘Wow, I really did five years of this.’ This team was strong for five years. We’re not in SA and we had a budget, we had uniforms, we traveled, and competed against other SAs and won.”
Coleman is looking forward to furthering his career in the arts. He recently auditioned for enrollment in Yale’s graduate theatre program.
But his self-focus is not without cost. According to Coleman, Eccentric Flow seems to be slowly drifting apart since he’s not able to be as involved as he was due to his career pursuit. He said that the team is working on separating into different groups, including an all-girls team.
Coleman accepts that his creation is going its own path, but he hopes that the members will carry the one thing that allowed him to create the team in the first place.
“I stress confidence to the tee,” Coleman said. “If you don’t have confidence in life, you can’t do anything. You really need confidence. I teach [the team] confidence, to be yourself, and to go full out.”
After all, that was what led to Eccentric Flow’s impact on UB in the first place.
By BRIAN JOSEPHS, arts editor