In the warm glow of a few strings of lights strung above the dance floor of the Music Resource Center auditorium, Ike Anderson leads a group of dancers through a hip-hop routine, demonstrating each toe touch and head bob as he calls: “One and two and three and four, five and six and seven and eight. Left, touch. Up, touch. Back, touch. Back, touch.”
About a dozen teenage dancers, some of them official members of the Return of the Comeback dance crew, others hoping to ace the upcoming audition, are rehearsing for future performances and competitions, which in the past have included the Best of Both Worlds Dance and Step competition held annually here in town.
“Who’s killin’ it and knows they’re killin’ it? I want you out front,” Anderson calls from the stage before cranking the music, Bruno Mars and Cardi B’s “Finesse.” And for the freestyle part, he reminds them, “Trust your body and let go.”
For the dancers in Return of the Comeback, letting go is a big part of why they dance. Trená, an 11th-grader, says that when she dances, she feels “relaxed,” like she doesn’t have to think about anything but the dance.
It’s an escape from the stress of school and a break from mountains of homework. It’s time away from home that allows for a certain amount of self-discovery that only happens on places like dance floors, athletic fields and in band classrooms. “When I dance, I feel…like I’m not even on Earth; I feel out there, just by myself, and happy,” says Trinity, a ninth-grader.