Water bottle. Tennis shoes. Jazz shoes (optional). Face full of makeup (highly desired).
The list of items given to auditionees for Long Beach State’s first all-Black dance team perfectly captured the playful, fiery spirit of its seven performers.
New life was added to the team during auditions in the Kinesiology building’s dance room Friday afternoon. The vocals of Ella Mai and bars of Nicki Minaj took part in fueling the energy of the room as the dancers went over majorette, hip-hop, jazz, contemporary and lyrical choreography.
At end of the auditions, the team announced it was changing its name from Melanin Magic.
“We are upgrading our name to the Jewelettez, aka the Jewelz, so we’ll be called both,” said Jalaysha Seals, the team‘s founder, coach and president. “Every time they hit the stage, they shine so bright like a diamond even though each one of my dancers represents a different jewel.”Founded in February 2018, the dance team originated from the Queens in Motion, an on-campus housing social group composed of women of color. The queens felt the dance community at LBSU lacked a team with diversity in its membership and in its style of dance when they called for Seals to lead the Melanin Magic.
“I am melanin. I’m Black. I’m a woman. So I’m also one of those people who felt like I couldn’t necessarily participate in the current dance team,” Seals said. “It was a matter of me actually finding my comfort and my happiness here at Cal State Long Beach doing something that I love.”
In its first year, the Melanin Magic entered the spotlight performing at events such as “Black Graduation 2018,” LBSU women’s and men’s Homecoming basketball games, the Black Student Union’s 39th Annual Black Consciousness Conference and the “DIVAS of Compton’s Holiday Showcase.”
While the high-flying toe touches, bold hip pops and smooth body rolls aim to excite audiences, members of the Jewelettez strive to be closer than most dance teams behind the scenes.
“Not just a majorette team, but a sisterhood that supports each other academically, personally and artistically,” reads one of the audition flyers on the team’s Instagram page.
In addition to hangouts and team dinners outside of class as well as rehearsals and performances, the team’s members work to keep each other accountable with their academics and mental health.
“We’ve become friends and brothers and sisters because we do spend so much time together,” Seals said. “[The team] is very small, but it helps us become very inclusive and allows to me get to know our dancers deeper. Not just in their names and their background[s], but really understand what they go through on a daily basis.”
The Jewelettez look to become an official LBSU student organization by the end of the Spring 2019 semester.
The Jewelettez are scheduled to perform at the Walter Pyramid during the women’s basketball games on Feb. 28 and March 7.
Watch our video coverage of the Jewelettez here:
Video by: Ralston Dacanay