Aysha Upchurch AIE'15 leading a cypher at Harvard Dance Center. Photo credit: Ilya Vidrin.Cyphers at Harvard Dance Center are informal freestyle dance jams in an open circle that are inclusive, joyful, supportive, and community-building. All abilities and types of movers are welcome– no prior dance training needed. Cyphers usually take place at the Dance Center and feature rotating hosts of live music and playlists. Cyphers  are sometimes hosted by Aysha Upchurch AIE'15 and sometimes hosted by students and student-led dance groups. 

What is a cypher?
A cypher is freestyle dance jam where an open circle is created and people take turns dancing in the center. The cypher (or cipher) has deep, long-standing cultural roots in hip hop culture, African tradition and even religious beliefs. 

Interested in hosting a Dance Center cypher? Email Elizabeth Epsen, Communications & Program Coordinator for Dance.  


Friday, September 10, 4pm - Open House Cypher

Celebrate being back together again with a Dance Center cypher!  All abilities and types of movers are welcome– no prior dance training needed. 

Special welcome from Dean Rakesh Khurana! 

Learn about the Harvard Dance Center and dance offerings. See the space. Meet other dance and arts students, staff, faculty, and Dance Center partners from across campus.

Feel the groove. Move and be moved.

CYPHER HOST: Laura Rodriguez, aka LROD, Lecturer in Dance, Theater, Dance & Media 
LIVE DJ: Darien Carr GSD'23
DATE: Friday, Sept. 10, 4pm
LOCATION: Harvard Dance Center, Studio 1, 66 Garden St., Cambridge, MA

RSVP to reserve your spot! 

Dance Center COVID safety protocols:

  • Please bring your own filled water bottle as water fountains have been disabled due to COVID safety. 
  • A reminder that face coverings will be required to enter the building and must stay on throughout the event. Extra masks are available if needed.
  • Hand sanitizer is available at the entrance of the studio. 
  • Capacity in Studio 1 has been reduced to 55 to allow for more space between dancers.
  • Specific traffic flow pattern is indicated by signs.


 The Dance Center’s main floor, housing Studio 1 and two all-gender restrooms, is wheelchair accessible. If you anticipate needing any other type of access to participate, whether in person or virtually, please email We welcome the conversation!


Cypher host Aysha Upchurch faces the back of the Dance Center's Studio 1 with arms raised towards cypher participants in the background. She wears a white and blue denim vest with "ARTIST ARTIST ARTIST" embroidered on the back, black leggings, and a navy blue bandana framing her tied up dreadlocks.