Thanks to two friends whose love of dancing began in high school, West Chester University has its first break dance club, Heavy Reign Crew. The name came from the two creators of the club, who wanted the club to have a “control of destinies” with a “powerful” name. The club became official on March 21.
Nick Magno, a third-year cell and molecular biology (pre-med program) major and Phil Bieg, a third year communication studies major, worked on making the club official last year.
Bieg has wanted to create a break dance group since his sophomore year of high school. Bieg and Magno met their sophomore year, during which they began learning how to break dance. They tried getting their high school friends involved. When they found out they were both attending WCU, they wanted to create the club together.
The two had attended various dance organizations offered on-campus, but felt limited as the dancing was choreographed.
“Break dance is a form of dance that can include choreography,” Magno said. “For Phil and I, break dancing is a form of free style. It doesn’t restrict our freedom in dancing.”
Magno said the real term for break dancing is “b-boying” as it is composed of break dancing and pop-and-locking.
The two friends met a third dancer who was in the audience watching them compete in WCU’s “So You Think You Can Dance.” They met Micha Cook in the audience as he danced in between rounds of the show. Cook is now the treasurer for the club.
The three students would dance together the following semester, spring 2010. They won first place in the English Club’s competition of “WCU’s Got Talent” show.
The following year, Magno competed with four sisters of Phi Mu sorority in Delta Zeta’s “Best Dance Crew” in fall 2010. The sisters of Phi Mu joined Magno and Bieg in their dance session practices. Carrie Oechsle, of Phi Mu, is now a member of the break dance club.
“I’m one of the few girls that can do this,” Oechsle said. “It shows that girls can break dance too.”
Magno taught her how to do foundations, freezes, windmills, and chair, and she is working on doing a head spin. The two competed in a dance battle in Philadelphia, “Lover’s Rock.”
Another member of the group, Anna Petrucci, met Magno while he was practicing moves in the basement of his residence hall. She saw a flier he posted about break dance sessions, and joined the group at the beginning of the academic year. She free-style dances with them as she has a background in hip-hop and jazz. She is a member of the crew this semester.
Magno said that within the club, there is a desire to do community service by performing at juvenile detention centers or at the YMCA, in order to “break cultural barriers.” Magno and Bieg have spent parts of their summers at the YMCA daycare to teach less-than-fortunate kids, ages 4 – 16, how to dance. They also taught kids at the Juvenile Detention Center of Chester County.
“We like to talk with the kids to promote break dancing as a cultural activity,” Magno said. “Every person can break dance, and it brings people together through this culture.”
Magno said break dancing is about foundation, style and power. Foundations are the basis to learning other moves. Every dancer has their own style in how they do certain moves.
The club members do not require that students have experience in break dancing. The members of the group teach one another moves and help with technique and styles. At their sessions, they gather to free-style.
“Dance because you love to dance,” Magno said. “We’re not a competitive crew, we do it more for fun.”
The club meets Tuesdays from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. in Ballroom A of Sykes. They welcome all students and they also session in Hollinger Field house gym several times a week.
Ginger Rae Dunbar is a fourth year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at RD655287@wcupa.edu.