Complexions Dance Team Preps for Homecoming Performance

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Published October 21, 2016
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The Montclarion
Complexions Band Dance Team practicing their routine before their performance during halftime of Saturday's football game. Photo by Alexandra Clark
Montclair State's Complexions Band Dance Team was founded in 2012 and they specialize in band dancing. Photo by Alexandra Clark

Montclair State’s Complexions Band Dance Team was founded in 2012 and they specialize in band dancing.
Photo by Alexandra Clark

“People think we’re a sorority because of how close our sisterhood is,” said Paris, a senior child advocacy and policy major. Paris has been a member of Montclair State University’s Complexions Band Dance Team since 2013, but she said the dance team still advocates for the same values since its inception.

Complexions was started by two students named Chantel Jones and Autumn Bracy back in spring of 2013, and is historically an all-female dance group. The dance team focuses on more than just their performances both in the bleachers and during half time at football games. They advocate for health and fitness, diversity and female empowerment.

“At most schools, when you look at the teams all the girls usually look the same—same height, same size—but at Complexions we like to embrace all shapes and sizes,” Complexions president Kelsey Johnson said.

Four years after the group was created, Complexions are preparing to dance to a band arrangement of “Waiting for Tonight” by Jennifer Lopez, as well as “Controlla” by Drake at the homecoming football game tomorrow at 3 p.m. at Sprague Field.

What sets Complexions apart from the other dance teams on campus is they specialize in band dancing, a mixture of hip-hop and jazz with a lot of sharp movements. Johnson said the team definitely channels Beyoncé in their choreography, since she has been known to use the same type of dancing in her music videos. Band dancing is more common in the South at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), but it has been slowly making its way up North.

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“Band dancing is different than your regular dance team,” said Complexions dancer Elisha-Marie Welsh, who described it as a “free expression dance.” Welsh always wanted to be part of a dance team when she came to Montclair State but couldn’t decide on which one until she attended some of Complexions’ general interest meetings.

Along with being a dance team, Complexions is also a Class III Organization of the SGA and hosts events, like their 90’s Babies Throwback Party early tonight, inviting anyone to dress up in a 90’s outfit and enjoy a night of dancing and singing along to their favorite songs from this nostalgic decade.

No other dance organization on campus focuses on band dancing, which makes Complexions unique and draws people to learn more about them since a lot of people aren’t educated about the style of dance.

While some Complexions dancers heard about the dance team from friends, Jennet Jusu, Complexions’ assistant choreographer, had done band dancing in high school and was glad to find Montclair State had a dance team that specialized in the same type of dance.

Along with Jusu, Charles Simonson serves as choreographer for Complexions and is also their first male choreographer. Paris said that, while the principles of Complexions have stayed the same over the years, the biggest change has been welcoming Simonson to their team as a choreographer.

Complexions currently has 15 dancers, including members of their executive board, but the organization has more members that come out to the general meetings and support them by attending their performances at football games and other campus events.

Johnson said the rehearsal process for homecoming this weekend has been a bit hectic with a lot of football game performances being thrown their way, but they’ve been able to put a lot of time into their practicing to make it count.

Complexions Band Dance Team practicing their routine before their performance during halftime of Saturday's football game. Photo by Alexandra Clark

Complexions Band Dance Team practicing their routine before their performance during halftime of Saturday’s football game.
Photo by Alexandra Clark

“That’s the only way we can be the best,” Johnson said. Their rehearsal schedule ranges between three to four days each week to prepare for their different performances.

Before each performance during halftime on the field, Complexions dances during the game in the bleachers. They don’t have choreographed dances while in the bleachers, but instead have “swaggers,” which are eight-counts of different moves or steps led by the captains for the rest of the dancers to follow. The steps are performed at sporadic times to pump up the crowd.

“Our uniforms put us apart too,” Johnson said. “We have bright red and gold uniforms so when people see that, they know the Complexion ladies are coming through.”

Johnson said a lot of people have been waiting for Complexions to come back to the football games after not being present last year due to some rechartering issues. They are back this semester and are ready for the football season and for those who know Complexions to cheer them on.

In addition to their general meetings called “Chat with Complexions” every other Monday, they are also holding a “Zumba with Complexions” event on Nov. 16 at 6:30 p.m. in the Machuga Heights Multipurpose Room, where they invite everyone to come get a taste of what band dancing by learning some steps.

When asked what her favorite performance by Complexions has been, Johnson said she has high hopes for their dance at homecoming. “I think tomorrow’s performance might be my favorite,” Johnson said.

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