By Carl Andre Vulcain
LINCOLN UNIVERSITY- On Friday, April 11, The Lincoln University hosted its first HBCU Dance Competition in the university’s International Cultural Center, themed around popular performers in Pop Culture.
Hosted by Lincoln alumni Marshayla Kinsel ‘14 and Julian Mckelvey ’12, the event consisted of dance teams assembled hailing from the some of the nation’s most prominent HBCU’s. Amongst the teams was Lincoln’s very own dance team, Onyx Dance Troupe.
“It was a great experience having [these] HBCU’s come together in competitive fun,” stated Kinsel. “I would definitely love to host again next year.”
The event was coordinated by Lowell Howard, current SGA Vice President of External Affairs, and Shawn Moore, coordinator of Student Life and Development.
“Myself and Mr. Moore came up with the idea after our NASAP conference in June,” reflected Howard, class of 2014. “We wanted to do something that would display unity amongst the neighboring HBCUs.”
After initial planning, efforts were then turned to formulating a method to get schools to agree to participate and come together.
“Mr. Moore and I both agreed that we should do a dance competition. We, then, proceeded to design the structure, rules, and guidelines for the competition,” said Howard. “In November, we sent out an application to 8 schools with six of them confirming their acceptance.”
Howard University, Morgan State University, Coppin State University, Delaware State University and University of Maryland Eastern Shore were among the schools that accepted the invitation to participate. Unfortunately, Coppin State University was forced to withdraw from the competition due to financial reasons.
By design, each university was asked to select a representative from their respective school to serve as a judge in order to eliminate any chance of favoritism.
“Each of the judges was a dance coach from their respective school,” said Kinsel. Lincoln was the only team without a coach, thus choosing Winnie Washington, current SGA President, as their judge. Judges were expected to score teams according to skill, not relationships.
The competition resulted in a “dance-off” to break a tie and decide 3rd place between Morgan State and Howard. In this “dance-off”, the judge representing Morgan State chose Howard for her vote, giving Howard the advantage, awarding them 3rd place.
With a slight edge over Lincoln, the winner of the competition was University of Maryland Eastern Shore. UMES’ dance team performed a routine to Grammy Award-winning performer, Lady Gaga. Coming in second place, was the crowd favorite Onyx Dance Troupe, mirroring Grammy Award-winning rap artist, Missy Elliot.
“We really lost because UMES’ costumes were really on-point based on their theme,” reflected Miriam Boyd, member of Onyx Dance Troupe. “Overall though, I think we did a really good job and the audience loved us.”
The points for the costumes proved to be the deciding factor of the competition as the score was very close. UMES edged Lincoln with an overall score of 214-209. Amongst the remaining categories were creativity, precision, difficulty, enthusiasm, and spotting.
“If you ask me, I think we got ripped off’,” stated Raheem Ali, President of Onyx Dance Troupe. “I think we performed great. We [weren’t] perfect but I would give us a 9 out of 10. To me it was easily, the best Onyx performance we ever had. We came out very sharp. I am very proud of all of them.”
Despite the results, a large number of people in attendance thought Lincoln’ dance team had the best overall routine of the competition.
“The Lincoln team was the most entertaining. It was obvious,” said Ashley Williams, a Delaware State student who was in attendance.
The University plans to turn the competition into an annual event.