It was hard to ignore the excited buzz coming from the Smith Student Center ballroom last Friday evening as family, friends and students sat in anticipation. The second annual Dancing with the Stars: SRU Edition was about to begin.
Sponsored by the National Honor Society for Dance Arts (NHSDA) and by Deb and Eliott Baker, five couples eagerly took to the dance floor to compete. Not only would the first and second place winners be rewarded with their consequent titles but the students would also receive a bit of scholarship money courtesy of NHSDA’s “Rising Sophomore” fund.
Composed of a Slippery Rock faculty member and student dance major, each couple performed in their chosen genre. From salsa to disco, every routine was created from scratch.
Christine Pease-Hernandez, an associate professor of communication and performing faculty member, described the process in relation to her student partner, Molly Huey.
“It was almost like signing a contract,” Pease-Hernandez said. “We had to agree to meet our student choreographer at least five hours to rehearse. [Huey] guided and then we just practiced, practiced, practiced.”
Although the physical aspects of dance are important when structuring a routine, the mental and emotional sides were also considered.
“It was a communication thing,” said junior dance major Jean Carrio Mendez. “I’d ask ‘what are you comfortable doing? What do you want to do? How do you feel?’ and she would tell me and that’s how we would build up.”
Indeed, Mendez and his referred faculty partner Pam Miller sure put on a show! Winning second place for their number, “All Night Long,” by Lionel Richie, Mendez was able to take home a $250 scholarship prize.
The first-place winner, Olivia Nellis and her partner Dennis Hemphill, were also awarded $500 for their performance of “Two Left Boogie Shoes.”
When asked how they felt about winning the SRU Edition of Dancing with the Stars, Nellis replied saying, “I was a little nervous just because all the other competitors were so good and I don’t know how [the judges] were going to pick.”
In fact, while the judges decided on the night’s winners, several other dance organizations performed including JamRock, Afro Columbian Dance Ensemble and Dance Express. Including both dance majors and nondancer majors alike, each group focused on a specific style and allowed audience members to really appreciate the various forms of dance.
“To see them tonight and to see the movements and the way they came together and just the artistic talent is absolutely fascinating to me,” commented Pease-Hernandez. “I gained a respect for our dance students because I don’t think people realize how hard they work.”
In addition to participating in various performances like Dancing with the Stars: SRU Edition, senior dance majors are also required to put together a synthesis before graduating.
Michelle Slavik, a senior dance major and President of NHSDA, explained, saying, “we do culminating research and one of the ways we present our research is through the performance of something we choreographed.”
Tickets for future performances like the Senior Synthesis concert on April 21 and personal showcase by Senior Dance Major, Alyssa George on April 22, will be on sale soon in the Smith Student Center.