On Friday, April 22, the Kenyon College Ballroom Dance Club put on the Dancing with the Kenyon Stars, an annual event that pairs members of the club with faculty as they perform in front of a panel of judges from the community. The show historically serves as a fundraiser for the Winter Sanctuary homeless shelter, and this year’s production was a huge success all around, with clever humor and great dancing.
Professor of Music Benjamin “Doc” Locke was emcee for the evening, making a number of cheeky jokes that elicited constant laughter and groans from the audience. He had a running bit for every judge or contestant, where he would announce their status on Facebook and share with the audience how many friends they had in common. The panel of three judges included Ceci Rodriguez ’22, Chaplain Rachel Kessler and Visiting Assistant Professor of History Alex Novikoff, who participated last year. The judges followed each performance by holding up numbers, in true Dancing with the Stars fashion, though the winners were selected via ballot.
The first performance was a collegiate shag, a dance to uptempo jazz. Sutton Amthor ’22 and Sydney Fender, administrative assistant at the Gund Gallery, danced to “Sugarfoot Rag” by Ella Fitzgerald, incorporating kicks and quick footwork. Amthor and Fender earned a well-deserved eight, nine and 10, though the judging was far from harsh the entire night (the lowest number the judges were provided with was a seven).
Kessler enthusiastically awarded each group of the night a 10 — except the last group, Adam Bell ’22 and Advancement and Development Fellow Jonathan Hernandez ’21, for whom she attempted to hold up all the numbers she had. Their dance was an energetic swing performance, which followed the story of a lost scarf.
One performance that the audience was especially excited for, as expressed through roaring applause and rowdy cheers, starred President Sean Decatur. He emerged in an astronaut costume — complete with a space helmet — accompanied by Natalie Wilson ’22 dressed as an alien to dance a foxtrot to “Fly Me to the Moon” by Frank Sinatra. They did a wonderful job together, spinning all across the stage to smooth, waltz-like choreography. During the judging, Rodriguez made a playful comment to Decatur that was particularly pertinent given the Kenyon Student Worker Organizing Committee’s ongoing indefinite strike: “You bust a move better than you bust a union.”
Members of What’s K-Poppin’, though not on the ballot, took the stage multiple times between acts. They were perfectly synchronized, performing hip-hop dances to popular K-pop songs.
The winners of the disco-ball trophy were Ashleigh Zarley, director of innovation and analytics, and Sofia Flores ’22. They danced the cha-cha to “Mr. Saxobeat” by Alexandra Stan, and stood out for a number of reasons; their dresses were vibrant, with ruffles and sparkles, which worked well with their twirly choreography. Their steps were quick, emphasized with dramatic arm movements.
Overall, the event was very entertaining, and allowed for students and faculty to come together for an energetic evening of dance.