By Alyssa Naimoli
An MTV contest, a four day deadline, a Miley Cyrus hit and a trending hashtag brought the Rider Dance Team’s accomplishments to greater heights on Feb. 7 when MTV posted clips from 10 finalists on its website for the “Dancing with Miley” contest. The Rider Dance Team qualified, and on Feb. 8, its video clip aired three times between 4 p.m. and 11 p.m. during a dance movie marathon on MTV.
A production assistant from the network contacted teams from the tri-state area in January, and after being invited to participate in the contest, the dance team choreographed a routine.
“Since we are a hip-hop team, primarily, the routine was a fun hip-hop dance, with a twerking influence of course,” junior journalism major and dance team member J’na Jefferson said. “It was a lot of fun because we had a little twerking experience under our belts. I choreographed a piece for the basketball games inspired by Miley and her twerking so it was a really fun challenge for us.”
Team captain and senior elementary education major Michelle Farace knew that the contest would be a great opportunity for the team and decided to get straight to work.
“We only had a range of four days to make up a dance, figure out formations and outfits, record it and submit it,” Farace said. “With that being said, it was a little bit stressful, but I knew we could pull it together.”
The contest consisted of individual dancers and groups that submitted their own videos of original choreography to Miley Cyrus’ song “We Can’t Stop.” Viewers then voted for their favorite performance on Feb. 8. From the start of the contest, the Rider Dance Team had taken a significant lead with its eye-catching hip-hop dance.
“During the commercial breaks they would show the dances that were in the contest and would put each team’s hashtag on the screen for viewers to tweet,” Farace said. “Right away, we had a big lead. People from all over the world were tweeting for us and #teamdtg was trending worldwide.”
Farace hopes that this win will build confidence and a stronger relationship among the team. She also hopes they will gain more recognition and fans at basketball games.
“This is the first time something this big has ever happened to us during the four years I have been on the team,” Farace said. “I told the team this definitely makes up for not going to a competition this year.”
The contest brought multiple firsts in their team’s history. The dancers created their routine from scratch and brought their team to global recognition. The dance team also welcomed a former dancer, Blasia Antinoro, sophomore gender studies major, back into the studio for their submission video.
“She is a great dancer and happens to have the same hairstyle as Miley Cyrus,” Farace said.
Members of the dance team drew from other experiences and were happy they could use their talent and energy in their routine.
The team has now had the opportunity to expand its reach and reputation beyond the Rider campus and the New Jersey area.
All of the motivation paid off because the team won the grand prize of attending Cyrus’ upcoming Bangerz Tour.
“We were ecstatic,” Farace said. “We couldn’t believe it. We have a group chat, so we were texting on that the entire day.”
Despite the quick deadline and the hard work, the team was happy to get the routine done and enter the contest. Together the dancers endured a quick submission time while creating a routine that reflected their personal style and was an experience for them to remember.
“The contest has definitely brought us closer together,” Jefferson said. “Our practices are always fun, but preparing for the contest was incredible and being able to interact with each other through this has been amazing.”
Printed in the 2/12/14 edition