Last fall, I was thinking out loud with my fellow cabinet members of the Arts @ Fuqua Club: “Wouldn’t it be awesome to do our own version of Dancing with the Stars?” Well, on April 5, we did! Dancing with the Faculty began as just an idea that became a reality this spring.
Finding an available Friday evening for a Fuqua-wide event in the Spring 2 term is no easy feat. We jumped on the only Friday evening that was available. I then realized I had less than 2 months to convince some of our faculty members to learn a dance from a student within 3 weeks and perform it in front of the entire school! As evidence of how amazing our faculty is, it was easier than I thought!
After returning from Spring Break, 6 couples were beginning to practice one of 6 different styles of dance. Most of the faculty members had little to no dance experience, so the teams were starting from ground zero. The dance couples were:
- Associate Dean for Admissions Liz Riley Hargrove & Rotimi Thomas: ‘90s Hip Hop
- International Programs Coordinator Candice Aldrich & Sahithya Yadati: Indian Classical Dance
- Consulting Careers Section Director Mary Beck White-Sutton & Tony Toussaint: Cumbia
- Professor Shane Dikolli & Wing-Kam Li: Swing
- Associate Dean for the Daytime Program Russ Morgan & Jamaila Holder: Caribbean
- Ford Library Associate Director Jane Day & Azamat Valiyev: R&B
Dancing with the Faculty
Hours before the live event, the couples (and I) were all nerves. The other event organizers and I had converted classrooms into dressing rooms, where the dancers could change into costumes, warm-up and have their hair & makeup done by students. Our faculty members’ families came to the event for support; many provided pep-talks to their “star” for the night.
In true Dancing with the Stars fashion, the couples performed in random order, introduced by a video showing their progress from 3 weeks of rehearsals. I had the pleasure of providing some commentary at the end of the performances with Senior Associate Dean for Programs Jennifer Francis. The two of us (and the rest of the audience) were thoroughly impressed as the dancers put it all out there for our “coveted” disco ball trophy. I saw the sighs of relief from the performers after their dance, and the proud look of relatives as they cheered for their mom/dad or husband/wife.
Behind the scenes, we were taking some risks with how we executed the event. We attempted to push the limits of what was possible from a multimedia and live performance perspective. Throughout the prior 3 weeks, we taped our competitors learning their dances and rehearsing, and then played a short video before their live performance. Before we conducted our text message voting, we played a recap video that we compiled during the live event. To buy some time, we had a special performance by Fuqua Fast Motion, our school dance team. As the real-time voting took place, we also had a musical performance by our “house band,” giving the audience a preview of the upcoming Fuqua Idol event.
After the votes were in, we learned that our champions for the first-ever Dancing with the Faculty event were: Jane Day, our librarian, and Azamat Valiyev, a second-year (aka. Jayonce and A-Zee). They did an R&B performance, and it was quite impressive what they had achieved in such a short period of time. Watch their performance!
Here at Fuqua, we’ve always wanted more student-faculty interaction and engagement outside the classroom. Some of the faculty members described Dancing with the Faculty as being “terrifying, yet satisfying” and “in the almost 12 years I have been at Fuqua and the dozens of student events I have been a part of, this rates at the very top.” For our Arts @ Fuqua team, receiving this feedback for a new event created from a tiny idea was extremely gratifying.
For some, this event was an opportunity to step out of his/her comfort zone. For others, it was an opportunity to coach and teach someone. However, for all of us, it was another exhibit of the unique culture here at Fuqua.
Interested in watching the dances? You can check them out on the Arts @ Fuqua YouTube channel.