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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

VIDA’s spring showcase: A night ‘Dancing With the ‘Dores’

Like “Dancing with the Stars,” Vanderbilt Latin Dance brought together students across campus to compete in a night of vibrant music and impressive performances.
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Faiza Islam
VIDA members dance, as captured on April 15, 2024. (Hustler Multimedia/Faiza Islam)

On a night full of music, Latin dance and fun, students representing organizations across campus competed in VIDA’s “Dancing with the ‘Dores,” a “Dancing with the Stars” inspired competition. Students performed in a wide range of styles, from zouk to salsa, in dances choreographed by VIDA members. VIDA members themselves also performed bachata and salsa dances throughout the night, and VIDA alumni served as the judges for the evening.

The lights dimmed in Sarratt Cinema as VIDA executive board members took the stage to perform a bachata dance. Bachata, originating in the Dominican Republic, is a passionate dance, and the VIDA exec showcased their skill and love for dance in the performance. As the pairs performed the many steps and hip motions, it was evident that we were in for an expert, music-filled show. 

The first group to compete was none other than the Vanderbilt Melodores, who recently graced Sarratt Cinema with their signature “Melaroo” performance on April 12-13. Seniors Andrew Hom and Arjun Menon, joined by sophomore Ondrey Valentine and first-year Tyler Hanson, performed a spirited and well-coordinated reggaeton dance. The style originated in Panama and was popularized in Puerto Rico, with many hip-hop influences. The Melodores performed an impressive, in-synch act, with drops and spins, showcasing their chemistry and experience working together.

Next up, first-years Katherine Diaz and Miguel Giraldo put on a tango performance, including many of the signature spins and sweeping motions. The tango style they performed originated from Argentina and Uruguay and is notable for its dramatic music and reliance on a strong frame. Immediately following this, a faster-paced and energetic samba dance was put on by members representing Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Most well-known from Carnival, this style is based on African and Brazilian influences. 

The fun and flowy movements continued as seniors Audrey Millar and Jackson Weirda took the stage, representing Phi Sigma Rho and Beta Upsilon Chi, respectively. The pair quickly swirled and dipped across the stage, with well-practiced movements in a style that also originated primarily in Brazil. In the final competition performance for this half of the show, senior Steve Wang, representing Vanderbilt University Concert Choir, and Lucero Perdomo, representing FirstVU, performed salsa. The performing pair worked in a circular pattern with impressive footwork and shoulder shimmies, showcasing just how steep the competition was.  

The entire VIDA team then took the stage to tango, with impressive cross-steps and lunges perfectly in sync across the many pairs on the stage. As they switched partners and rapidly spun around the stage, the audience cheered for their friends. Also breaking up the official competition, a guest performance was put on by Nilaja Amari African Dance Troupe, Vanderbilt’s Premier African Dance Troupe. The group was reactivated for the 2023-24 school year, and has gone on to perform many times across campus, host workshops and grow quickly in popularity. The group put on an outstanding and fast-paced performance that was immensely fun to watch and likely left many excited to see the troupe perform again soon.

The competition started back with even faster-paced dances as Ruiqing Lan and senior Kahlo Quinn represented Tour Guides and danced cha-cha, a style originating in Cuba in the 1940s. The pair swung back and forth, threw their hands out and completed pretzel-like hand movements that left the crowd cheering and dancing along. Senior Jason Burke, one of the choreographers of the cha-cha spoke about the experience.

“It was such a great experience to be able to choreograph and teach our dancers,” Burke said. “DWTD gives a unique opportunity to showcase Latin dance to a group of people that wouldn’t have normally come to a show. It was awesome to hear the crowd cheering people on and see the dancers’ faces light up, especially those that had never danced on stage before!”

In a more laid-back and grounded performance, first-year Gwen Johnson representing VIBE, and senior Tejit Pamidi representing Beta Upsilon Chi, grooved along in a Kizomba dance. The style originated in Angola and typically uses Portuguese music. 

“DWTD was so much fun and my choreographers, Sarah Hoover and Preston Crase, were the best!” Pamidi said. “Getting to meet them and hang out with them during practices was awesome, I think everyone should do something like this before graduating!”

Up next, mambo, also known as a New York-style salsa, created by Puerto Ricans in New York, was energetically danced to by members representing Zeta Phi Beta and Vanderbilt Off-Broadway. Following, representing The Slant, competitors danced in merengue style, which is typically considered the national dance of the Dominican Republic. The pair put on an impressive performance, following the traditional march-in-place movements and well-coordinated, multi-step spins.  

The final performance of the night was put on by first-year Chloe Whalen and senior Sam Sliman, representing VSG. The pair danced bachata, tying back to the first performance of the night and quickly grooving, spinning and dipping across the stage. Whalen is a Deputy Life Editor for The Hustler. To close out the night, the VIDA team went onstage one last time to perform a well-coordinated and visually pleasing salsa dance. 

The judges deliberated for the final moments, and the winners were announced. Third place went to the Melodores’ reggaeton, second place went to VSG’s bachata and first place went to Tour Guide’s cha-cha. 

Before the night closed, VIDA celebrated their graduating seniors and gave recognition to sophomore Ben Faulkner and senior Sarah Hoover for organizing the event. Senior Elliott de Boer expressed gratitude for the show and his time with VIDA. 

“Putting on Dancing With the Dores — VIDA’s first showcase in two and a half years — was incredibly rewarding,” de Boer said. “It was great to see everyone come together to showcase Latin dance for the Vanderbilt community, and it was clear to see that everyone was excited to perform and share all the hard work they’ve put in this semester. I’m incredibly grateful that my last show with VIDA turned out so well and I want to thank everyone for coming to enjoy the show!”

While the stakes may not have been as high as “Dancing with the Stars,” “Dancing With the ‘Dores” brought campus together in a unique way. It was inspiring to see so many students across majors, organizations and grades perform together after rehearsing for the entire semester. VIDA shared their love of Latin dance with the Vanderbilt community, and in the process, helped students across campus step out of their comfort zone to dance the night away, supported by their peers in a packed auditorium.

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About the Contributors
Claire Gatlin
Claire Gatlin, Former Life Editor
Claire Gatlin ('24) is a student in Peabody College studying human and organizational development and political science. In her free time, she enjoys going to concerts, reading and rollerblading. You can reach her at [email protected].
Faiza Islam
Faiza Islam, Staff Photographer
Faiza Islam (‘27) is majoring in public policy and minoring in sociology in the College of Arts and Science. In her free time, she enjoys yoga and journaling. You can reach her at [email protected]
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backseat copy editor
1 month ago

* The Slant (italics)