Ladies Dancing, Lords A LeapingGAMBIER, Ohio (November 29, 2011)
"Eternal glory" is the prize for the champions of Dancing with the Kenyon Stars, said Georgina Leslie '12, but the real winners will be Russian orphans.
Leslie, president of the Kenyon College Ballroom Dance Club, has helped organize and will compete in the event on Friday at 8:00 p.m. in Tomsich Arena. A ticket to vote on the winners costs $2, money that will benefit the Russian Orphan Opportunity Fund (www.roofnet.org).
"It's a great cause," Leslie said. "Also, it's going to be a lot of fun just to see what all of our Kenyon stars have managed to put together. We've had a great time."
Leslie became familiar with the Russian Orphan Opportunity Fund while studying in Russia for a semester and spending two summers there, including work at a summer camp operated by the organization in Belskoye-Ustye. "It was an incredible experience," she said. "They have a bunch of different projects around Russia, working with kids in orphanages and working with kids who have disabilities." The organization offers educational assistance to disadvantaged children and young adults, supports higher education and jobs training, and helps young people who have been institutionalized embrace the outside world.
Leslie has enjoyed ballroom dancing since high school in Memphis, Tennessee. "I had done ballet for a long time but I didn't really have the time, so I took up ballroom. It's a lot of fun and it's a great way to meet people. There's a huge variety of dances you do."
The Ballroom Dancing Club attracts as many as thirty people to its practices and it sends a team of fourteen to regional dance competitions. The idea of a benefit event has percolated and "once we figured out something we wanted to support, everything got moving."
Dance teams including a student and faculty or staff member will compete in different dances. Judges will provide critiques but those in attendance with a voting ticket will decide the fate of the dance couples by voting via text message or on paper.
The dance-club students have been impressed with the faculty and staff members who stepped up after an e-mail pitch for volunteers. "They're doing really well," Leslie said. "We were planning to just teach them the basic steps, but everybody ended up learning the basic steps plus three moves."
Leslie will dance the Jive with Tom Garvey, visiting assistant professor of classics, who is doing "really well" on a dance that requires "extremely high energy." Another dancer to watch is President S. Georgia Nugent, who will perform the waltz with William Friedlander '14. "President Nugent has a lot going for her," Leslie said. "She looked pretty good at rehearsal. She has dance experience. She was one of the first people to respond."
Dance critics should look for enthusiasm, Leslie suggested. "You can tell who is really enjoying themselves."
Here's a breakdown of the rest of the Dancing with the Kenyon Stars teams:
International Rumba - Brandylyn Arredondo '14 and AVI chef Patrick Diehl
Hustle - Brielle Giomini '14 and Claudio Re, visiting assistant professor of music
Foxtrot - Katherine Baker '14 and Toby Uecker, assistant director of housing and residential life
Swing - Stella Ryan-Lozon '13 and Bob Milnikel, associate professor of mathematics
Tango - Taylor Somers '12 and Kate Elkins, associate professor of humanities
American Rumba - Luke Kresslein '15 and Pamela Faust, executive assistant to the president & provost
ChaCha - Ryan Talk '12 and Karen Snouffer, associate professor of art
Benjamin Locke, Robert A. Oden Jr. Professor of Music, will be master of ceremonies. Judges are Alicia Dugas, assistant dean of students for housing and residential life; Balinda Craig-Quijada, assistant professor of dance; Sarah Gill-Williams, college counselor; and Anna Sun, assistant professor of sociology.
Next up for the Ballroom Dance Club's charity work is a twelve-hour dance-a-thon in the spring.