BY LONDON MACKALL
The stars touched the Earth for one musical, toe-tapping night during the Organization of Latin American Students’ (OLAS) first annual Dancing for the Stars competition.
The competition featured a variety of Salisbury University alumni, faculty and students and was held in Holloway Hall on March 29 at 7 p.m.
The proceeds from the Dancing for the Stars ticket sales (which were priced at $3 with an SU ID and $5 without one) went towards OLAS’ Relay for Life team.
The idea to do a dancing competition for charity came from the organization’s advisor Vanice Antrum, OLAS President Ruth Taleno said. Antrum had seen the idea on a trip to Miami, Florida and suggested it to the executive board Taleno said.
“We were like why not, let’s try it here,” Taleno said. “Who doesn’t want to see their faculty and staff, the well-known faculty and staff, dance?”
Couples had varying degrees of dance experience, some participants had been dancing for a few weeks, while others had been dancing since they were children.
Some dancers felt that being new to the sport was an asset rather than a liability.
“Like anything, because you haven’t done it already you don’t particularly have any bad habits that you’re trying to break,” SU alumnus and contestant James Hall said. “As long as you’re taught correctly then things should flow smoothly and I think that’s what we’ve done here.”
Choreographer Paola Arguet, who has choreographed moves the for SU dance group the Untouchables, created some of the dancers’ routines. Arguet tried her best to give the participants routines that they wanted to dance to and would enjoy dancing to.
“For instance, I had Vanice and James and for them they wanted a slow piece, which I had a routine already,” Arguet said. “My boyfriend and I did a routine for Menagerie last year, so I used that piece and I added another piece and I worked them together.”
Students who decided to choreograph their own routines drew inspiration from their strengths and their interests. Some dancers even wanted to push themselves with harder routines.
“I kind of wanted to challenge myself with it because I’ve seen a lot of Dancing with the Stars and it’s a lot of fun different dances that they’re all teaching and learning at the same time, so I wanted to make it like the same experience for all of us,” contestant Julie Nicholas said.
Couples also had to consider music selection to go along with their performances.
All of the dancers made sure to include Latino artists to the song mashups that they danced to as well. This impressed to OLAS Vice President and Judge Esther Cortez.
“I think that when we were telling people what songs to do, we never told anybody to do exclusively Hispanic, Latino, Spanish pop music and all of them are doing a song,” Cortez said. “It’s like you never really see that. I think the Latino representation right there is the bomb dot com.”
The Dancing for the Stars event was hosted by current OLAS President Ruth Taleno and former OLAS President Maria Rodriguez.
There were a total of six performances and each team was rated on a scale from one to ten by the three judges. The judges were Vaughn White, Tricia Smith and Esther Cortez.
The dancing duos included SU alumnus Darren Isaacs and SU alumna Muriel Beteck, Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity member Michael Landry and resident assistant Karen Rodriguez, football and track coach Jacquic McCray and Coordinator of Student Life Sara Lowery, Severn Hall Area Director Dan Huff and senior Julie Nicolas, Alpha Kappa Alpha President Natayia Riley and Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity member Raushan Davis and SU alumnus James Hall and Coordinator of Multicultural Student Programs Vanice Antrum.
Three teams received perfect scores. The teams were Rodriguez and Landry, McCray and Lowery and Antrum and Hall.
Along with the in-the-moment scoring, the judges also had to fill out a rubric that graded the contestants on elements of their performance like difficulty of the dance and partner chemistry.
The combination of the in-the-moment scores and the final rubric scores found that the two finalists were Rodriguez and Landry and Riley and Davis.
The audience decided on the final winners based on the amount of applause that each team received.
When Taleno pointed to Rodriguez and Landry the amount of applause that they received could not be beat. Rodriguez and Landry were declared the first-ever winners of Dancing for The Stars.
Both contestants received trophies that were topped with stars.
When Rodriguez climbed off of the stage her supporters gave her a bouquet of roses and words of praise.
Rodriguez and Landry were noticeably excited when they heard the news.
“It was a lot of fun,” Landry said.
OLAS hopes that this event will become a tradition at SU and that it continues to get better, Taleno said.
“And hopefully in the future we can even maybe, hopefully get the president up there,” Taleno said.