Taking inspiration from ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, members of SRU faculty and staff performed choreographed routines Thursday night in an effort to impress the judges and take home first place. The three judges were senior public relations major and dance minor Sarah Arpino, professor of dance Nora Ambrosio, and junior integrated marketing major Courtney McCalmont. All ticket proceeds went toward the National Honor Society for Dance Arts (NHSDA) Rising Sophomore scholarship fund.
The festivities began at about 7:15 p.m., accommodating those buying tickets last minute. Senior theatre major Tyler Hahn, the night’s emcee, briefly welcomed the audience and introduced Dance Express to the crowd for their opening performance. Dance Express is a student-run organization within SRU’s department of dance.
The competitors consisted of the team of Leslie Snyder, a clerk typist in the Office of Admissions, and President of NHSDA and senior dance and psychology dual major Taylor Hahn. The team performed to “Candyman” by Christina Aguilera, and their routine was the only one to incorporate the emcee.
Next up on the docket was the team of David Wilmes, associate provost for student success, and senior dance major Emily Gardiner. They performed to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin.'” Wilmes and Gardiner engaged the audience early and often with finger guns and head bobs.
To let the audience catch its breath, an intermission ensued with a performance from the Rock Dance Company (RDC). RDC is directed by faculty member Jennifer Keller and consists of 15 dance majors. The club focuses on positively impacting children’s lives through dance, performing in front of approximately 2,000 children annually in addition to members of the surrounding community.
After intermission, the competition resumed with the team of Heather Hertel, associate professor in the Art Department, and sophomore dance major Samuel Elizondo. Hertel and Elizondo shifted the mood of the night with their choreography to “Sunlight” by Max Richter, a performance which Elizondo described as “free.” The dance incorporated twists, leg lifts, and possessed a ballerina vibe.
Up next were Deanna Brookens, theatre instructor, and senior dance major and theatre minor Darrin Mosely. The duo impressed the judges with their Latino-inspired salsa dancing choreography to the tune of “Que Tengo Que Hacer” by Omega El Furte.
The rest of the night consisted of another performance from Dance Express, then the pair of associate professor of English and assistant to the dean of liberal arts Timothy Oldakowski and senior dance and public health dual major Elizabeth Rohm. The two performed to Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance.”
To close out the competition, Hannah Brewer, assistant professor of physical and health education, and junior dance major Michelle Slavik performed to “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” by the Backstreet Boys. The duo edged out a second place finish and has the inside edge on first if they decide to return to the competition next year.
The first-place winners of Thursday night’s competition were Deanna Brookens and Darrin Mosely.
“It was all his (Mosely’s) choreography, and his stellar and patient teaching,” Brookens said. “We had so much fun, and the excitement, and support, from the crowd made the performance awesome.”
“Deanna Brookens is the best partner in the world,” Mosely went on to reply. “[She] is just the bomb; let’s be real about this. She came, she was ready to go, she had the best energy of anybody tonight. I don’t know how they could not choose her.”
With the impending graduation of Mosely, and the closeness Brookens possesses with him, it is more than likely both partners will not return to defend their title.
The event was put on by event coordinators Savannah McCartney and Natalie Goforth.
“I’m very pleased,” McCartney said. “I think [attendance] totaled around 70 people, and I’m really happy, because all of that money goes toward our scholarship. It was super important because most of the audience who came haven’t been exposed to dance, and they were the participants’ families, so that made it extra special that they got to see them do something exciting.”
McCartney said the hope is to make the event annual and encourage more people to participate.
“I think my favorite part [this year] was just seeing the smiles on the stars’ faces as they were watching their videos, seeing their rehearsals come through,” McCartney said. “A lot of them got very emotional talking with their partners beforehand. It was just really exciting to see how emotional they got, and how much fun they had throughout this process.”