Known for its feisty performances, Blue Strut, Andover’s student-run jazz dance group, wowed audiences this year while maintaining tight-knit relationships off-stage.
Led by Emily Ewing ’14 and Rachel Murree ’14, Blue Strut started the year off with a bang, performing a 1920s-themed dance for students and parents at Grasshopper Night.
Winter Term, the group of eight dancers brought their signature sass to a basketball halftime show where they performed to Beyonce’s synth-pop hit “Sweet Dreams.” This was the first time Blue Strut has ever performed at a sporting event.
“I thought the halftime show was really fun. It was good publicity for us because we were able to show the school exactly what we do and [dance] it’s athletic,” said Ewing.
Blue Strut’s main performance of Spring Term was at Dance Open, where the group danced to “Give Me the Beat” by electric rock band The Ghostland Observatory. While Blue Strut’s fall and winter performances focused on old-school jazz moves, their performance in Dance Open was a more alternative approach in song choice and movement.
When they are not on stage, the dancers of Blue Strut fuse friendship into their two rehearsals each week.
“My experience with Blue Strut is that it’s a way to meet people and find a group of friends that you share a passion with, which is dance, and you know will be there for you. We are notorious for getting a little distracted during rehearsals and talking, but I do think it’s important for us to talk and make sure everyone is doing okay in classes and social things,” said Murree.
Blue Strut also takes conducts several pre-performance chants. A group favorite is “sh-booyahs,” where the dancers stand in a circle and yell out “sh-booyah roll call.” Each dancer shouts their names and a short, witty rhyme to match.
Murree’s sh-booyah chant is “My name’s R-Murree, yeah, no need to worry, yeah, ‘cause when I shake it, yeah, the boys they hurry, yeah.”
“I’ve been dancing since I was three years old, but I still have terrible stage fright. Blue Strut does all these little cheers and chants and it’s a really awesome way to get us excited about a performance, and it calms my nerves,” said Ewing.
“Looking at past years, I feel like Blue Strut has been on an upward trajectory in terms of choreography, costumes and lighting. The level of choreography and preparedness has gone up. It’s an extra commitment and the dancers are taking it really seriously and are willing to take risk,” said Murree.
Ewing and Murree are hoping that Blue Strut will continue to find success next year with Olivia Berkey ’15 and Marion Kudla ’15 serving as Co-Heads.