Union College students, faculty boogie for Africa
Competition draws crowd at Union College
SCHENECTADY Nine Union College teachers gamely tried to keep up with their students Friday night in a college version of “Dancing With The Stars.”
Just in case they couldn’t provide enough entertainment, a dozen other clubs signed up to sing, dance and perform for the crowd.
But the teachers proved more than up to the task. Senior Associate Dean of Students Trish Williams outdanced all of her rivals on stage, the judges said — though they added cheerfully that they might be biased because she could fire them.
A crowd of more than 100 students and teachers gathered to vote on the best dancers and, by paying $1 per vote, raise money for hospice and palliative care in sub-Saharan Africa. They raised $525.
The audience was much larger than expected, said organizer Ben Miles, president of the Ballroom Dance Club.
“Especially for a Friday night when there’s a hockey game going on,” he said.
Many came to root for their friends, and one even had a fan club, complete with a homemade sign proclaiming “PAT” in large letters.
As often happens in reality television votes, the player with the most friends participating won. Patrick Duffy was declared the best dancer at the end of the night. He danced the jitterbug to prove his prowess.
Other groups came just to perform.
Four members of the ballroom dance club wowed the crowd with impressive lifts and jumps that had the audience cheering by the end of the song. Even the MC was floored.
“Wow,” he shouted into his mic. “That was amazing! I’m joining Ballroom, don’t know about you.”
According to Miles, that might not be a bad idea.
“It’s a different way of thinking, and we are at college to think,” the math and physics major said seriously after his performance.
“In general, physicists make good dancers. People don’t believe it,” he said. “It uses something that’s logical and also a little creative, and physicists tend to have that.”
Another student club came with matching costumes and musical instruments, marching 10 strong onto the stage. While some of the other groups danced tentatively, the Bhangra Union cranked up the music and leaped with abandon into a dance that was once performed on farm fields in India.
“It’s usually a folk dance. We’ve kind of infused some hip hop,” captain Hyma Kavuri said.
The crowd loved it, clapping rhythmically as some of the dancers kept time on stage with drum-like instruments. At the end, the dancers raced away — and then, as soon as they were out of sight, fell on each other with delight at their triumphant performance.
They compete regularly in Albany and have practiced four hours a week all semester. This was their final performance of the semester.
“Way to end the term!” Kavuri said. “I’m so proud of you guys.”
They said they decided to join the night’s events to show their fellow students something new.
“We want to bring that culture to Union,” dancer Shalini Singaravelu said.
“Something Union’s never seen before,” Kavuri added.