While many Penn State students recognize the Whiplash Dance Team as a hip-hop group, its members refuse to limit themselves to one particular style of dance or music.
Adrien Aloi, who will be returning to Whiplash for a second year, said that since there are different styles of hip-hop utilized in the club, their performances vary based on the choreographer. Student members choreograph all the performances.
Aloi (sophomore-hotel, restaurant, and institutional management) said she has been dancing since she was 3 years old. She has studied jazz, ballet, tap and hip-hop. She has also participated in dance competitions since she was 9 years old.
“We all come from different types of dance [backgrounds],” Aloi said of Whiplash’s membership. She added that some of the girls were cheerleaders, while others were on their high school dance teams.
Lia Tjotjos, president of Whiplash, also emphasized the diversity that exists in Whiplash. She noted that while they are a hip-hop club, they do not dance exclusively to hip-hop music.
“What I like so much about Whiplash is we can take any song and apply our style to it,” she said. She said that the group has danced to dubstep songs, as well as songs from the 1950s.
Tjotjos (senior-business management) said the club has grown considerably since its creation in 2000.
Back then, a group of girls interested in hip-hop gathered to perform in the HUB-Robeson Center. Now, Whiplash holds auditions and performs during events such as Homecoming and the Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon.
“It’s an honor to see how the team has grown,” Tjotjos said.
But, it is evident that Whiplash is not just about dance. Tjotjos and Aloi both said they have made lasting friends in the club.
“We really develop this sense of community and family,” Tjotjos said. “So many different girls from different backgrounds can come together and become a cohesive and fun group.”
In addition, both girls said that Whiplash extends its reach beyond dance and into philanthropy by participating in THON. Whiplash’s THON child, Emma Johnson, is passionate about dance, and the dance team invited her to dance with them onstage at THON 2012. Johnson, who is 8- years old, taught Whiplash the dance herself.
“She’s never had such a bright personality before and she’s never really gotten up in front of that many people before to perform,” Tjotjos said. “It was just amazing.”
Aloi agreed that THON was a memorable experience.
“You don’t get to dance for a great cause in front of 15,000 people in too many other places,” she said.
Whiplash will host its first auditions at 4:30 p.m. today in the White Building. A second round of auditions will be held on Thursday followed by an interview process. Whiplash is looking to gain 20 to 25 members after the audition process.