Kaos on Campus
Sean Norton '12 started the hip-hop group Kaos Kids
Sean Norton '12 never saw himself as much of a dancer. In high school, he was involved in activities like fencing and music, and although he would sometimes try break dancing with his friends, he says he wasn't very good. When Norton started college, the Philosophy major and Business minor had no plans of getting involved with dance. He was quick to join a fraternity and get involved with church activities, but he did not think of joining Adagio.
Two years later, Norton is one of the founders of Brandeis' first hip-hop dance group, Kaos Kids. He is the group's off-campus coordinator and has taught a dance class at Brown University. Norton now cites dance as one of the biggest parts of his college experience even though his involvement came somewhat unexpectedly.
The turning point came in the second semester of Norton's first year. Will Bedor '10, one of Norton's fraternity brothers, was getting a group of guys together for Adagio's spring show. He asked Norton to join the group.
"I kind of thought it would be a lot of fun to do; there was not much more incentive other than that," says Norton.
Norton says he loved his first dance show in Adagio, and it inspired him to want to get better.
"I [thought] it was just really, really fun. We just had a really good time dancing together, and I wanted to keep doing it," says Norton.
During Norton's sophomore year, Bedor approached him again, this time to start a hip-hop dance crew. The crew started off casually and was what Norton describes as a "small, tight-knit family." However, as time went on, the group started holding auditions for the group, and Norton, along with Bedor, Samanthan Cortez '13, Kayla Sotomil '10, Ben Harel '12, Yuri Gloumakov '13, Rebecca Schlangel '10 and Shaquan Perkins '13 founded what would become Kaos Kids. Kaos Kids now has 17 members and has performed at various Adagio shows, the Fall Fest Variety Show and October's Sustainability Rocks benefit concert.
Last summer, Norton continued to get more involved with dance, as he "took a lot of classes with Project D in New Jersey." Norton eventually auditioned for the dance company and was accepted. Norton says that Project D "improved my dancing style and mentality when it comes to running a dance company and crew."
His involvement with Project D introduced him to a dancer who gave him an opportunity to teach a student dance class at Brown University.
"A guy from Project D is a grad student at Brown right now, and he approached me toward the end of the summer and asked me if I'd like to come teach a class at Brown. He hooked me up with that, so that was my first time really teaching a dance class ever. I'd love to do it again," Norton says.
Norton says that dance is greatly influencing his college experience by "giving [him] something to look forward to" and that Kaos Kids is helping to fill a dance niche on campus.
"There's so many groups on campus, we have religious coexistence groups ... and culture groups. ... I think that one of the things that wasn't here before was a real hip-hop dance group, and hopefully we're adding to the culture at Brandeis," Norton says .
In the future, Kaos Kids will be performing at events including Dance Fest with Adagio, Mela and a student's senior project, just to name a few. Norton also hopes the group will be able to perform at Brown and other off-campus events.
Norton hopes that even after he graduates the legacy of Kaos Kids will continue.
"I would love to see everyone grow together as dancers. I want us to move together well [and] learn different styles, not just hip hop but dance as a whole, [and] be able to go out and compete with other schools such as Boston College [and] BU Fusion. Even if it's after I graduate, I would love for Kaos Kids to eventually be able to compete at the college level," Norton says.
On the personal level, Norton would also like to continue his involvement with dance after he graduates. However, while Norton says he would love to dance professionally, he is unsure if it is an economically feasible option.
"If there was a way where I could have a comfortable life and not necessarily have to worry about income and keep dancing, I would love to keep doing it," he says.
Shaquan Perkins '13 is one of the founders of Kaos Kids and also the group's logistics coordinator. Perkins, who has been involved with dance since high school, describes Kaos Kids as a "family," as does Norton, and says that the group's atmosphere is "magnificent."
Perkin says that he feels that the group is helping to bring awareness of hip hop to campus and that his favorite part of Kaos Kids is "seeing my Jewish kids get down." Still, he has high ambitions for the group and says that he hopes "that the group brings hip hop to Brandeis and allows Brandeis to just accept hip hop to the campus. [I hope it] helps bring awareness to the genre and other parts of dance and I hope the group gets to perform every chance we get.