Rider steps it up with new dance competition

by Christian McCarville

Step Up! Rider’s Ultimate Dance Competition is a brand new event at Rider with a focus on competitive dancing. It pits students against each other in order to determine the best dancer on campus. This event is put on by the Student Entertainment Center (SEC) which also runs the widely popular R Factor.

The event was held in the Bart Luedeke Center (BLC) Theater on Nov. 1. Step Up! was also one of the many events held on campus as part of Homecoming and Family Weekend. This allows families and alumni to take part in the event and watch Rider’s most talented dancers. 

“Step Up! was an event designed to showcase our students that are also dancers and provide an outlet for them to share their talents with the campus,” said Associate Dean of Campus Life Nick Barbati.  

The SEC has curated many events for the university community to express its many talents. 

“We have a wide array of programs designed for Rider students to perform and dance was the next frontier of talent show to introduce,” said Barbati.

This event comes as a result of many student requests asking for a dance-related talent show. “We recently had students that requested an event like Step Up! as an arena for them to perform their style of dance and show all of the different types of dance that are taking place on campus,” said Barbati.

The SEC has noted that dance is a highly popular recreational activity among Rider students.

“Last year when we hosted Derek Hough on campus, we realized just how many students interested in dance are at Rider,” said Barbati.  

As this was a new event on campus, many were excited and unsure what exactly to expect from the dance competition. This attracted lots of students, families and alumni to the BLC Theater to witness the competition.

Each dancer showed a unique and stunning performance, but only one dancer could become the Step Up! ultimate champion. The winner of this competition was Mackenzie Jones who performed a hip-hop dance.

“In the first round, [Jones] performed a hip hop number. It was the only piece of that genre in the whole competition and it really showed that it was her specialty,” said SEC member Jennifer Bartkovich, who hosted the event alongside Shiray Baskerville. “She closed round one with a strong performance, very sharp, clean cut motions that were really just jaw dropping. You could tell that she had been practicing and perfecting that style for years and she has a true talent.”

Jones brought this same energy into the second round, which proved to be much more difficult than the first. In this round, contestants had to adapt their dance to the music that periodically changed.

“There was never a moment where she paused or did not know what to do. At one point a Latin sound came on and she got so into the music that she kicked off her shoes,” said Bartkovich. “I think that was definitely a memorable moment because you could tell, if you had not already, how much she gets into dance and how much she enjoys it. The music just took over her and she went on another level, like no one else was around her and she was just by herself doing her own thing.” 

Due to its popularity and success, Step Up! has the potential to join R Factor as one of the campus’s most anticipated recurring events.

“I was really happy with the energy of Step Up! and we certainly will be interested in bringing it back and building upon it to be an even bigger program that connects with students.  It would be wonderful if it became an annual campus program,” said Barbati.

Published in the 11/6/19 issue of The Rider News.

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