DASAC Spring Showcase Tops All the Polls

DASAC performed their end of semester showcase last weekend. Kate Bestall ’27 recaps the presidential campaign-themed concert.

DASAC Spring Showcase Tops All the Polls
DASAC4PRES, the spring showcase from dance group DASAC, featured an action-packed, election-themed program on the first year quad. Photo courtesy of Claire Beougher ’26.

Student dance group Dance and Step at Amherst College (DASAC) performed their end of semester showcase on Sunday, April 28. The show’s theme was “DASAC4PRES,” a timely theme considering the upcoming national presidential election. The show took place on the first year quad despite the complication of a light rainstorm preceding the show. While the rain was over by the time the show started, it left the seating and stage soaked and slippery. Dancers took precaution by mopping the stage prior to the performance and between pieces — DASAC was committed to moving forward with the performance, rain or shine.

The performance opened with the DASAC pledge of allegiance, led by co-artistic directors Abadai Zoboi ’24 and Jasmynh Stokes ’26, along with company manager Adetola Makun ’26, which dancers also recited from backstage. The DASAC pledge of allegiance closely parodied the United States’ own, with changes including the invocation of “bosses and baddies” and “liberty to slay for all.” This pledge foreshadowed the rest of the showcase, establishing a focus on a reclamation of American politics and the community forged between dancers.

Although “DASAC4PRES” implied a sense of competition between choreographers, with each piece representing its own presidential campaign, each choreographer’s distinct and creative approach never felt like a game of one-upping. Instead, the universal commitment to the theme proved to be a testament to the choreographers’ dedication and originality.

Justin Ruiz ’24 and Mica Nimkarn ’24, the iconic choreographer duo known as “JICA,” explored the different stages of a presidential campaign with “JICA in the House.” The piece began with the song “Whip It Up” by Justine Skye; dancers donned dark sunglasses portraying the candidate’s secret service. Dancers strove to win over the audience with their smooth, fun, and flirty movements. The piece then transitioned to “Get Loud” by Coi Leray to celebrate JICA’s victory; the choreography showcased the dancers’ capability for energetic, fast-paced motion.

“Before going onstage, [JICA] told us that all we needed to do was have fun and give the energy this piece deserves. I think that’s what we did,” said Nabiha Tahsin ’27, a new member of DASAC this semester. The piece, JICA’s last with DASAC, exhibited the wide scope of styles they are capable of choreographing, from the smooth, playful quality of “Whip It Up” to the precision and swiftness of “Get Loud.”

Other pieces reached past the shiny veneer of presidential campaigns to delve into hidden mechanisms of government, exploring protest, indoctrination, and military control. Perhaps another way to put the theme of the showcase would be power: how far people are willing to go to obtain it, how people weaponize it against others, and how one can reclaim it through individual expression.

“Bring It On,” choreographed by Georgina Omaboe ’24, Miranda Gibson ’24, and Jess Li ’24, centered on a power struggle. The piece, which began with dancers cartwheeling across the stage, set the scene for two rival cheerleaders vying for the captaincy of their team.  In the program, the choreographers described the piece as  “just how far people are willing to go for power.” The choreography of “Bring It On” ambitiously incorporated step and majorette dancing to narrate the fierce competition between cheerleaders. Both styles of dance are rooted in Black American history and culture, with their contemporary forms notably associated with Black culture within university settings. This fusion lived up to DASAC’s mission to spotlight styles of dance rooted in Black American culture and the broader Black diaspora and effectively demonstrated the dancers’ athleticism, precision, and boldness.

The power struggle of “Bring It On” segued into Anjalis de la Cruz ’24’s piece “Resist All You Know,” which follows a storyline of breaking free from indoctrination. Other pieces also showcased power struggles: “Sneak In, Step Out,” the annual highly-anticipated step piece, choreographed by Quincy Smith ’25 and Moira Newman ’26, followed a group of secret servicemen who begin moving as one and eventually break from their collective precision. The piece was captivating in its militant quality and the confident presence the dancers exuded with every stomp, clap, and shout.

The concert placed the most emphasis on what it means to reclaim one’s own agency. The opening piece, “To The Streets,” choreographed by Stokes, casted the dancers as protesters fighting for change and expressing their self-confidence. The showcase also featured more unconventional methods of protest including Makun’s “Hating From Inside the Club,” which presented dancers as undercover protesters causing chaos in the club. Both protest pieces challenge the idea that activism begins and ends with voting in elections; DASAC suggests that self-expression and fighting for change go hand-in-hand.

DASACSU, a merging of DASAC and ACSU (African and Caribbean Students’ Union), continued to promote self-expression in “Crash the Gala,” choreographed by Teni Aina ’26 and Zoboi. “Crash the Gala” took place at the DASACSU Presidential Ball, where dancers explored sultry and smooth movements befitting a ball setting. The piece shifted into higher energy as dancers came back onstage carrying flags belonging to different African and Caribbean countries; “Crash the Gala” was a celebration that combined sleek, classy moves with explosive cultural pride.

“Bite the Bullet,” choreographed by Aina, explored the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. The dancers engaged in intense, hard-hitting, masculinized choreography to “9mm” by Memphis Cult, but the piece soon shifted to “Not My Fault” by Reneé Rapp (ft. Megan Thee Stallion) as dancers began to playfully explore individuality within the confines of conformist pressure.

Mackenzie Dunson ’25’s piece “Be Your Own President” perhaps sums up the theme of the showcase best. To the dramatic and quietly confident song “Tattoo Tears” by iyla and the energetic “Pro Freak” by Smino ft. Doechii, dancers performed as a community to express their individuality, joy, and reclaimed power.

The final dance of the showcase, “Presidential Luxury,” a heels piece choreographed by Zoboi, was one of the most impressive performances — and also the most dangerous to perform on a slippery stage. The piece began with a voiceover setting the scene of “DASAC Vineyard,” the place where the most powerful leaders of the country and their families luxuriate. Dancers showed off their acting skills as they inhabited the characteristics of the people described in the voiceover. If the acting performance wasn’t enough to render the audience speechless, that feat was quickly accomplished as the audience realized the dancers were wearing heels. The final part of the piece, to Ice Spice’s hit “Princess Diana,” showcased the range of dancers’ movements as they changed out of heels into sneakers and shifted from elegant, feminine moves to hard-hitting choreography and unflinching confidence.

The performance ended with the entire group onstage to enjoy their applause and show appreciation for their e-board and their seniors. “It was bittersweet for me, honestly,” said Tahsin. “Last semester, I was in the audience looking up to JICA and DASAC in general. This was JICA’s last piece for Amherst, and it was my first and last piece with them. I’m so grateful that I got to be a part of it.”

Despite the bittersweet feeling of saying goodbye to DASAC’s seniors, Tahsin is excited for another semester with DASAC. “In such a short time, I felt so welcome in the DASAC family,” she said. “There’s such a beautiful and empowering culture of lifting each other up and supporting each other.”