Students put their best foot forward

By CiaraShook

Students and the public packed the seats in Stage Two,  of the 618 S. Michigan Ave. Building, on April 15 to see the Student Programming Board’s first dance competition to find out who really has the “biggest foot” on campus.

This was Biggest Foot’s first year, and audience members brought as much of the party as the contestants with their dynamic enthusiasm for the dancers’ skills and creativity. Biggest Foot was presented by the SPB and hosted by Malik Kitchen of Bloc Agency and previously of MTV’s “Taking the Stage,” and music was spun by Columbia student D.J. Continental.

The idea for Biggest Foot was created years ago, when former members of SPB had talked about doing something for the dancers on campus, according to Carlanay Cameron, marketing and communications coordinator for SPB.

“This year, we decided to implement the [idea],” Cameron said. “This was a great opportunity to get dancers out in the college community and to let people see what they’ve been working on.”

Nidal Abbed, junior television major, attended the competition and especially enjoyed the hip-hop dancing many of the contestant brought to the stage.

“I liked [H.O.W.] and their hip-hop song [Selection],” Abbed said. “I also liked the couple [James Moore and Tori Pierce], who did ‘Passenger Seat’ by Death Cab [for Cutie].”

“Right now [SPB is] just seeing it as an event for the spring semester,” Cameron said. “Who knows, it might end up being something that happens once or twice a year.”

Twelve acts participated in Biggest Foot including: Amaka Danley; Divine Expressions; Lauren Smith, Alyssa Zepeda and Mallory Milenbaugh; Devin Norwood; The Choreo Kids; Shay Turner; James Moore and Tori Pierce; Crossfade; Tiffany Krawse; Margie Robinson and Lawrence Young; H.O.W.; and CTC. Some dancers weren’t Columbia students, but were able to participate with students in their group.

Three industry professionals from the Chicago area judged the competition, including Andrea Shipp, vice president of Lily’s Talent Agency; Ethan Kirschbaum of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago; and Aaron Rogers of Joffrey Ballet.

Most of the choreography was based on hip-hop and contemporary dance aesthetics. Some participants featured interpretive dance, such as Divine Expressions’ routine in an ode to her religion, and tap dancing, like CTC’s routine that also featured a closing “Moonwalk” sequence made famous by the late Michael Jackson.

Crossfade placed third in the competition, winning the prize of $350, while James Moore and Tori Pierce placed second and won a $500 workshop scholarship to River North Dance Company and a $75 gift certificate for Motions Unlimited.

First place went to The Choreo Kids, who took home a cash prize of $1,000, $100 to Chicago Dance Supply and passes to the Convention Dance Seminar at Hotel Sax.

The Choreo Kids comprises Joseph Raya and Francis McMurtry, both freshman dance majors, and Joshua Hopkins, hip-hop dance teacher at Canadian Children’s Dance Theatre and Dance Expressions. The group’s routine featured interpretive dance, hip-hop and contemporary, with music from Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears and the Black Eyed Peas.

“We started rehearsing on Monday [April 12],” Hopkins said. “We didn’t think it would come out as good as it did.”

Raya said the group originally had a piece prepared based on the opera, “Carmen,” but came up with a new routine in the week before the competition.

“[Raya] came up with the theme and we just put the choreography together,”

Hopkins said. “The most exciting part is we had about eight hours of rehearsal altogether for the performance.”

Abbed said he hopes to see more events like Biggest Foot in the future because it allows students to showcase their talent.

“[Dance competitions have] gotten popular,” Abbed said. “It’s definitely cool we have that on campus, especially since there’s a big dance community at Columbia.”