By Rena Carman
As soon as the Rider Dance Ensemble (RDE) was invited to perform for the fourth consecutive year at Rider’s Relay for Life — the largest student-run event for the past five years — on April 5 in the Student Recreation Center, the executive board sprang into action and began rehearsals.
RDE performed a variety of dances for more than 800 students. More than $32,000 was collectively raised during this year’s Relay.
“We had dances that ranged from contemporary, jazz, even Beyoncé-inspired performances and there’s even more styles performed at our showcases,” said Bridget McAlinden, junior graphic design major and RDE public relations chair.
According to McAlinden, performing for such a large crowd during this event is something the team looks forward to every year.
“The crowd was really energetic, especially for 2 in the morning,” said McAlinden. “This only made us that more excited to perform. We were just happy to share the night with faculty and students in the fight against cancer. To see the whole Rider community come together for a cause and raise so much money is really inspiring.”
According to Ashley Miller, junior elementary education major and RDE president, the team had four pieces lined up: a jazz trio choreographed by sophomore dance major Ashley Alvarez to the song “The Way You Make Me Feel” by Michael Jackson; a contemporary piece choreographed by senior marketing major Sarah O’Keefe to “Skinny Love”; a large group fierce hip-hop/jazz piece to a Beyoncé mix choreographed by senior economics major Becky MacLeon; and a small group piece choreographed by junior journalism major J’na Jefferson in memory of her mom, who passed away from cancer.
“Two routines are from our fall show, and the other was performed as a preview for our spring show,” said McAlinden. “The last dance was a piece specifically choreographed for Relay. Every year RDE choreographs a piece that ties in with the theme of Relay: to celebrate, remember and fight back.”
In order to help raise funds, RDE also promoted and shared its team page through various social media sites, asking friends and family to donate to the cause as well.
“RDE always tries to give back to the community as much as possible; it’s one of my favorite things about RDE,” McAlinden said. “For as long as I’ve been at Rider we’ve always performed at Relay, and it’s something I look forward to every year.”
By raising money and awareness, Relay for Life offers a positive outlet for those to remember about the struggle of cancer for everyone involved.
“Relay has always been a way for me to remember my grandpa, who passed away from lung cancer when I was 6,” McAlinden said. “We were really close when I was growing up so it was really hard for me to get over, but it allows me to remember all of the good times that we had when he was here.”
RDE hopes that these performances sparked the audience’s interest, making them want to come to other RDE events, including their final show of the semester.
“I hope that this performance inspires them to come out and see ‘RDE Presents: Wherever You Will Go’ on May 2 at 7:30 p.m. and May 4 at 12:30 and 5 p.m. in the Yvonne Theater,” McAllinden said.
Printed in the 4/9/14 edition.