“So You Think You Can Dance?” is one of the most popular television shows in the country. Nominated for five Emmy’s, the show’s popularity has helped it reach over 100 episodes. Elon’s Dance Works, the student run dance and choreography club, wanted to replicate some of that fame and hosted what they hope to be the first of an annual “So You Think You Can Dance?: Elon Edition” competition. The winner, as voted on by audience members, won the title “Elon’s Favorite Dancer.”
The first round of competition featured eight contestants, only six of whom would make it to the final round. Biology professor Matthew Clark, neuroscience and psychology professor Amy Overman and certified dance instructor Betsy Reeves rated the dancers on form as well as technical aptitude and entertainment value.
“I’m looking for originality and showmanship,” Reeves said. “But most importantly, are they enjoying themselves?”
Clark has a background in dance, but Overman said she had no technical knowledge of the sport. “I love to watch “So You Think You Can Dance?” though,” she said.
Contestant Alyse Keim is a sophomore double math and dance major. “It’s just good to perform,” she said after the first round was over. “It’s a low-pressure environment.”
After an hour-long series of performances, the top dancers were announced and drew names from a hat for the next round’s dance partner, as well as a dance style they wold have to choreograph. During the first round, Whitley Auditorium held between ten and twenty spectators. The second round, though, filled up almost the entire lower level of the space.
The second round consisted of the pairs of dancers performing their duet routines, as well as a second solo performed by the individual dancers in their signature style. The duets were in hip-hop, jazz and modern. Solos ran the gamut from ballet to lyrical. After each duo performance, the judges offered feedback and then two soloists would perform.
At the end of the competition stage, a group dance performed by members of DanceWorks and choreographed by club president, senior Rachel Perlman, rounded out the dancing. As the audience votes for the winner were tallied, Rip_Chord, Elon’s male a capella group, serenaded the spectators.
After a short wait, “Elon’s Favorite Dancer” was announced as Keim. The runner-up was sophomore Kristen Sandler. For her skill, Keim won a gift certificate to a local dance outfitter, a T-shirt with her official “Favorite Dancer” title, and, of course, bragging rights until next year.
“We hope to make this an annual event,” Perlman said. “It’s a way to spread dance throughout the campus,and a way to give non-dance majors an opportunity to perform.” The competition will also be a regular fundraiser for the organization.
DanceWorks’ next recital is during the last weekend of February, where more talented dancers will be on display. But, only one of them can call herself “Elon’s Favorite Dancer.”