Competition not focus of dance company

Former Outta Kontrol members start a dance company, Dare to Dance.

Danzel Thompson-Stout, Bea Martin and Cristian Barreto watch Neha Sharma breakdance outside the TECH Center. | ABI REIMOLD / TTN
Danzel Thompson-Stout, Bea Martin and Cristian Barreto watch Neha Sharma breakdance outside the TECH Center. | ABI REIMOLD / TTN

For most dance teams or companies, competition is a huge part of the experience. Being considered the best is a great reward and sometimes competition can be healthy, but other times it can be ugly. Dare to Dance, or D2D, is trying to change the game and have competition not be such a big part of what they stand for.

In Fall 2012, four students who were previously in Outta Kontrol, a Temple dance team that was discontinued last year, created D2D. Bea Martin, a sophomore neuroscience major, Danzel Thompson-Stout, a sophomore dance major and Neha Sharma, a sophomore psychology major, helped come up with the idea to form a dance company.

Approximately 20 people auditioned for the new company on Feb. 16 and March 2.

“We didn’t choose anybody from the [first auditions], because we need people who can move like us,” Sharma said. “From the second round of auditions, we’re hoping to choose three out of the eight people that came in. We auditioned people based on freestyle, movement and expressionism with their art.”

Currently, there are about 16 D2D members and not everyone from Outta Kontrol automatically got a spot in D2D.

“A lot of Outta Kontrol members stopped attending [practices], so whoever we kept in contact with and whoever was a part of our process in creating D2D was automatically put in,” Thompson-Stout said.

Starting a dance company from scratch is no small endeavor, especially when full-time students are running it. But one thing the members said they  have in common is a love for dance.

“We wanted to dance for the love of dance more than just dancing to be the best at Temple because it felt like that was what we were surrounded by, so now we just wanna dance and express and be able to create. It’s a space for all of us to love and do what we do and share that within each other,” Thompson-Stout said.

Sharma added: “We have already performed a lot on campus as D2D. We won our very first competition called ‘For the Love of Dance’ put on by the Haitian Student Organization. Now D2D is spreading its wings to Drexel. We’ll be competing with them in May hopefully.”

Although D2D just started as an official company last semester, it already has plans for the future.

[blockquote who=”Neha Sharma” what=”D2D founder”]The whole goal is to stay together. Not just in the case of dance, but in the case of friendship.[/blockquote]

Sharma, Thompson-Stout and Martin all have plans for the future of D2D.

“We’re opening D2D more to the community than to just ourselves. We’re planning on having people from all over the dance community come to teach at D2D. The workshops will be open to the Philadelphia community,” Sharma said.

Thompson-Stout agrees.

“And soon enough, hopefully in the near future, we’ll start to have classes weekly during the semester so people that aren’t part of the company can come take a class,” Thompson-Stout said.
Martin said she is also excited about potentially having a showcase at the end of the semester.

“We are planning an end-of-the-year showcase to tell a story, and maybe collaborate with other Temple organizations like Babel to have poetry and dance together,” Martin said.

Members said one of the most important aspects in D2D is creating a family feel, even for members who are brand new.

“The family aspect [of dance] is something I personally enjoy being a part of. We have the chance to share doing what we love together and not have one kind of dictatorship as in someone teaches all the time and everybody does their choreography and that’s it,” Thompson-Stout said.

Sharma added, “We all get to collaborate, and sometimes after rehearsals we dance and laugh together and talk about ideas. We all share ideas and that’s what keeps it as a family, because we all get to put it together. We’re a close-knit group, which accepts anybody, literally. Anybody is welcome in our house, and, when we hold workshops and auditions, we strive to provide a family environment.”

Neha Sharma started D2D to create a “family feel” among dancers within the company and on Main Campus. | ABI REIMOLD / TTN
Neha Sharma started D2D to create a “family feel” among dancers within the company and on Main Campus. | ABI REIMOLD / TTN

The company makes sure that its members help out anyone who seems to be struggling when they teach a workshop or have an audition.

“The whole goal is to stay together as one,” Sharma said. “Not just in the case of dance, but in the case of friendship. Being in college together means a lot. We just hope that we can stay together without having to bring anyone down, so bringing someone new into our group would mean accepting them as who they are and fully accepting them.”

D2D hopes to accomplish a number of things as a newly formed company, including expanding to Greater Philadelphia and becoming more well-known on Main Campus.

“Overall, we hope that we can open dance [to broader horizons]. Temple’s dance department is very limited, and the resources here [at Temple] are very limiting given that a lot of crews on campus feel like they’re in competition with the other dance groups, and we don’t want that competition here,” Sharma said. “That happened with Outta Kontrol last year, and we don’t want that. Nobody is in competition unless we are competing. You’re only a competitor on that stage so, outside of that place, we’re all dancers, and we don’t want to move away from that.”

D2D isn’t strictly a hip-hop company, and it incorporates other types of dance as well.

“Most of our dancers are dance majors who are able to do technique and hip hop,” Sharma said. “There’s so much we have to offer to the community that it’s more than just dancing. It’s about how dance brought us closer as one, as a community.”

Rebecca Zoll can be reached at

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