Press Coverage

Why Danceline Is Much More Than the Halftime Show

April 4, 2019

At historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), halftime is game time. Students and fans flock to the stadium to witness the soulful stylings of the showtime band and the fierce dancers who accompany them. Their movements are sharp, explosive, and perfectly synchronized as they bring the music to life for the people in the stands. This is danceline, and its appeal extends beyond the stadium walls.

Showtime Soul

The history of danceline is inextricably linked to HBCUs. “In 1947, HBCU bands decided to switch from the more traditional corporal marching-band style that you see at big schools to showtime band,” says Kalé Woods, director of Heat Danceline in Oakland, CA, and assistant coach of Mahogany ‘N Motion, the danceline team for Morehouse College. Showtime band maintains the precision-based element of marching band but adds an entertainment factor by incorporating some dancing by the band members themselves. “They basically brought the soul to marching band,” Woods says.

The change in music also brought about a change in style for the bands’ dance teams. Over the years it became more and more stylized to match the music. The specific style varies from school to school, reflecting each school’s culture. “I think of it in terms of geography,” Woods says. For example, the Dancing Dolls of Southern University in Louisiana, coincidentally the first danceline dance team, have a style that’s prim and proper. “They’re like Southern ladies, with excellent technique and very little getting down or gyrating,” she says. Schools in Mississippi and Florida incorporate a more hip-hop–based style. Mahogany ‘N Motion, which is made up of dancers from Georgia’s all-girls HBCU Spelman College, but dances for Morehouse College’s football team, attracts studio dancers. “A lot of us come from the West Coast, which doesn’t have any HBCUs and, therefore, is unfamiliar with danceline,” Woods says. This difference is reflected in a more jazz-based style, incorporating lots of turns and leaps.

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East Bay’s Heat Danceline competes on Lifetime’s ‘Bring It!’

February 20, 2017

The 20 girls in Heat Danceline have spent many hours practicing hip-hop majorette, a dance form particularly popular in the south. Now, they have a chance to show their skills on Lifetime TV’s series “Bring It!

The group flew to Little Rock, AR on Thursday night to be filmed for the season finale of “Bring It!” They were invited by the producers after appearing in a lower-level competition in Los Angeles in January.

“We hope we go further and perhaps they’ll call us back for next season,” said team manager Ayanna Robinson.

Team members range from 9- to 17-years-old. All come from Berkeley and Oakland. They practice 20-30 hours a week, often at Sports Basement in South Berkeley. Although on Wednesday Feb. 8, when Berkeleyside contributing photographer Kelly Sullivan dropped in on a rehearsal, they were at the McClymonds High School Youth & Family Center in Oakland.

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