The COVID-19 pandemic may have lowered morale among some students, but the Tiger Rhythm dance team’s strong team bond continues to promote school spirit through hip-hop.
“Tiger Rhythm, to me, is about the blend of being a dancer as well as a member of the Auburn Family,” said team captain Anna Katherine Thompson, junior in early childhood education.
Tiger Rhythm was started in 2001 by Jonathan Martin and Iris Hill and was originally called AU Rhythm. Today, the hip-hop dance team meets twice a week to practice and learn dances in a fun, friendly environment.
Thompson has been on the team for three years and has been a captain for two years. As a team captain, she said her goal is to bring entertainment to Auburn while having strong team cohesion.
“It’s really important to me that the team bonds and that we hang out regularly outside of practice,” Thompson said. “We are all good friends.”
Before the pandemic, Tiger Rhythm performed at different events around campus and the community. The team has performed at parades, watch parties and at halftime during Auburn men’s basketball games.
“I want the student section of an Auburn basketball game to be more pumped than they were before halftime,” Thompson said. “I’d like to leave every audience wanting to see more.”
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Due to current regulations, the team has only performed once at the War Eagle Watch Party but hopes to perform more this semester.
“Since coming back in the fall, our performances have been limited but our passion for dance is always growing,” said Melissa Henry, sophomore in marketing.
The team continues to practice even with limited performances. The team performs in a larger space to maintain six feet of social distancing and each member is required to wear their mask for the entirety of practice. The team has also adjusted its “circle up” tradition to ensure the safety of all members.
“We also continue to check in on ourselves and each other’s health, and if necessary, quarantine for the appropriate time to prevent the spread,” Henry said.
This year the team has 17 members and is holding tryouts on April 15 for the fall 2021 team. As a co-ed team, any student who loves to dance is free to join. The team is looking for people who can quickly learn and perform choreography while having a passion for dance.
During tryouts, the captains teach a short choreographed dance to those who are auditioning and then in smaller groups perform it for the captains and advisor. A tryout may be a stressful event, but Thompson said she always tries to make sure every dancer is comfortable with the choreography before performing.
“We tell everyone that the tryout is super laid-back and not to stress,” Thompson said. “Tryouts are always fun.”
As captain of the team and a dancer of 15 years, the routines that Thompson choreographs come naturally to her.
“I can’t help but make up a routine in my head,” Thompson said. “If we have a performance, we will try choreography to the theme of the event.”
The Tiger Rhythm team can be spotted by their signature uniform which includes leggings or joggers and a jersey with their logo on it.
Henry said she is thankful for the organization for allowing her to continue doing what she loves.
“Tiger Rhythm has given me the opportunity to continue dancing while in college and I am so grateful for it,” Henry said. “I love the friends I have made from it and the memories we have made together.”
Thompson expressed similar feelings.
“Being able to dance with your best friends twice a week is the best thing in the world,” Thompson said.
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