Pitt’s student-run hip-hop crew inspires, empowers members


Image courtesy of Alyssa Teter

Controlled Chaos on stage.

By Elle Kenney, Staff Writer

For Alyssa Teter, Controlled Chaos is not just a dance club but a way to redefine social norms. 

“Growing up, we are told that we shouldn’t dance a certain way for fear of giving off a provocative vibe,” Teter, the president of the club and a senior communication science and disorders major, said. “However, getting to dance however we want and take power over our bodies is very fulfilling and really helps with confidence.”

Controlled Chaos is a hip-hop dance club run entirely by students. Students choreograph their own dances and teach open classes every Tuesday from 9 to 10 p.m. in the Peterson Event Center Multipurpose Room. Once a semester, they hold auditions for performances during Pitt events, such as the Bigelow Bash. 

Cat Alemany, a senior political science and French major and the group’s social chair, said besides dancing, club members also participate in bonding events. This year the group plans to host team sleepovers, movie nights, tailgates and attend Fright Night at Kennywood. The sense of family and community has motivated her and many others to join Controlled Chaos.   

“I also felt like [Controlled Chaos] was unique in terms of the connection and relationships the girls had, they looked like best friends, and I wanted to be part of it,” Alemany said.

Neha Manoj, a junior computer science major and a new member, said the open environment inspired her to join the organization. She had experience in hip-hop dancing, but the group’s energy made her want to join.

“I watched the dance team last year in multiple places and was always just so excited and in awe of them,” Manoj said. “They bring so much energy that is contagious and just makes an environment so lively, fun and full of passion. I danced hip-hop for many years before so I wanted to get involved and be a part of that as well.”

For many members, dancing plays a significant role in their life. Controlled Chaos is different from other dancing clubs on campus because they focus on freestyling.

“I have always had a passion for hip-hop throughout my dance career, and I knew that it was something that I wanted to continue,” Teter said. “As opposed to other dance clubs on campus that have their own unique vibes, the dances that we do on Controlled Chaos have a ‘swag’ to them and a certain feel that I think is hard to find elsewhere.”

Controlled Chaos puts on “swag” performances multiple times a semester, including Bigelow Bash and a showcase in the spring. Teter said one of the most enjoyable parts for her is being able to perform and see her choreography on stage.  

“I really enjoyed our mix that we put together for the Pitt Factor auditions that got us the spot performing in Bigelow Bash 2022,” Teter said. “There were some dances in there that I choreographed that turned out way better than I could have hoped for. It was just a fun mix of different songs and styles within hip-hop that was refreshing. I am also looking forward to our Vice President, Asiyah Robinson’s, choreography this semester. It’s already looking so sick.”

Other than learning new moves and choreography, Alemany said dance formed her personally and helped her grow as a person.

“Dancing truly means everything to me, I have been dancing my whole life,” Alemany said. “Dance is so important to me, not only because of how fun it is, but because it has made me disciplined, hardworking, committed to my goals, and even closer to my family.”

According to Teter, Controlled Chaos gave her friends and helped her overcome her fears when she first came to college. 

“Coming to college is hard for everyone. There’s always that fear that you aren’t going to make friends or that you won’t find a place where you belong,” Teter said. “Controlled Chaos solved all of these fears for me. I met the coolest people and got to learn so many different dances that were so much fun to participate in.”

To many in the club, dance is more than a hobby but a part of their identity. Alemany, who has been dancing since she was 3 years old, said she “wouldn’t be who I am without it.” 

“This crew has empowered me as a dancer, as a woman, as a leader, and has made me feel cool as hell,” Alemany said.