In preparation for Spirit Week 2011, the University of Rochester 2014 Class Council sponsored a dance tournament titled “Dancing with the UR Stars,” which took place on Tuesday, Feb. 1, from 8-10 p.m.
The judges consisted of Todd Kraus (UR chemistry department), John Olsen (UR mathematics department), Richard Feldman (Dean’s Office of College Admissions), and Marla Britton (UR Admission’s Office), alongside the hosts of the evening, freshmen Henry Macias and Oswald Codjoe. Although the judges were recognized as being prevalent members of their departments and the UR community, their self-recognition of having little to no dancing experience left most of the judging to be based on originality, energy and skill of the groups’ performances. “I have to judge something I know absolutely zero about,” professor Olsen said, following the conclusion of the performances, “I tried to be fair, but, I hope no one hates me.”
For the event, each dance group was paired with a UR “star,” or prolific member of the campus community. Over the past few months, the groups taught their participants a dance number in the group’s particular style, to which the “UR star” would learn and perform to the best of their ability. In addition to the group performances, there were individual performances of the groups’ members that were intermittent with the judged performances.
The performing groups and their stars were, in performance order, Dean John Burdick with the UR Swing Dancing club, SA president and junior Scott Strenger with freshman Siobhan McLaughlin of the Celtic Dance Group, Biology professor Anthony Olek with the salsa group Salseros, and mascot Rocky Yellowjacket with the hip-hop group Indulgence. Ranging from comically energetic to extraordinarily skillful, the performances generated largely positive reactions from the crowd.
The first individual performance was done by two members of the Salseros dance group and was the first number of the night. Although slightly slow to begin with, the execution of the sensual song and unique dance held the crowd captivated and followed with a brief round of applause.
The following performance — a swing number with Dean John Burdick — was highly energetic and skillfully accomplished by both the groups’ members and Burdick himself. Although many of the moves were perhaps ambitious for a non-dancer of older age to accomplish, the playfulness of the number contributed to an overall well-received performance.
“Just the courage of actually dancing is awesome, so, good job,” Olsen said in response to the performance. For his rendition, Burdick received scores of three eights and one nine.
Immediately following Burdick’s performance was Scott Strenger, who danced alongside UR Celtic’s Siobhan McLaughlin. The highly energtic performance was difficult in that it competed with fairly well-known and liked genres of dance, as well as being confined to a stage not conducive to the ground-covering dance manuvers. Overall, the performance was praised for its energy and difficulty to perform and received a score of four sevens.
The final individual performance followed Strenger and was an acrobatic routine by the two female members of the UR Swingdancing. The performance had a fun, speak-easy feel and, complete with a red-flapper dress, was a show stealer amongst the individual group performances.
The penultimate group performance of the night featured professor Anthony Olek, who danced with the Salseros dance group. The spicy performance was skillfully accomplished and was among the best original choreography. However, it was an interesting choice for a man of Olek’s age and stature to say the least, despite appearances, the performance received a score of three nines and one eight and an appropriately descriptive comment from Kraus.
“I think I need a cold shower right now,” Kraus said. “Tony, I know you teach biology, but you might want to move into chemistry.”
The final performance — which featured Rocky alongside Indulgence — was easily the best executed in terms of skill and perhaps most entertaining in that the dance moves chosen were those from well known and popular music videos. Accomplishing moves such as the “chicken noodle soup” and “the dougie,” the mascot performed at a high-energy, high-skill level that matched that of his performing group’s. “I’ve never seen feet do that before,” Feldman commented upon completion of the performance. Overall, Rocky received two tens, one eight and one nine, and a lot of applause.
The final winner of Dancing with the UR Stars was none other than Professor Anthony Olek, who clearly had the favor of the crowd, as they went wild when asked to cheer. The following runner ups were, in order from first runner-up downward, Rocky Yellowjacket, John Burdick and Scott Strenger. Overall, the night was a success for the groups attending and a welcome source of entertainment for the campus community.

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