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First dance fraternity

By Zachary Araki
On December 5, 2017

Inductees of the Xi Chapter of Chi Tau Epsilon, the first dance honor society on campus, pose for a picture. Zachary Araki/The Lion's Roar

The establishment of the university’s first dance honor society aims to bring more attention to the dance program.

The induction ceremony for the Xi Chapter of Chi Tau Epsilon was held on Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. in Student Union Room 2207.

“I think it’s gonna open up a lot of doors for them, and when they leave here, they’re gonna have something to say, ‘I was a part of this organization,’” said Faculty Advisor and Director of Dance Keith “Skip” Costa. “They had pride in it, and it’s gonna send more people back to the university, and it’s just gonna kind of filter. It’s gonna come full circle. It’s gonna empower our students for many years to come once they leave here.”

Vice President Alaura Cervini, who is double majoring in social studies education, grades 6-12 and general studies with a concentration in dance, shared her thoughts about the honor society.

“I think this is our first step in becoming like a larger program and a larger force here in the south,” said Cervini. “There isn’t really a lot of dance programs in the south, more specifically Louisiana. Hopefully when we are able to spread awareness on our campus, we’re able to spread it past our campus, which is other high schools and from there able to get some really beautiful dancers into this school.”

Costa discussed the dance honor society as the first of its kind on campus.

“Nothing has existed, and I thought what an amazing opportunity for the students to get recognized for their intellect, not just their creative side because a lot of times I think dancers or artists in general are overlooked at their creative and not intellectual,” said Costa. “It’s a good marry, marrying those two together, and this organization is definitely 100 percent about that.”

Junior marketing and general studies major with a concentration in dance Amber Whiteside shared why she joined the fraternity.

“I thought it would get me a lot of opportunities inside and outside of Southeastern, and I feel like it’s gonna enhance my activities, what I do here, and it’s just gonna be a really good opportunity for me,” said Whiteside.

Cervini hopes to raise awareness of the dance program. She discussed her plan for achieving this goal.

Cervini said, “We were gonna try to do more tabling in the union during like lunch hours and things like that so people could come up ask us, ‘What is this organization? What are some things that you do?’ as well as using more advertising skills, so maybe social media as well as more fliers up around campus and especially with our letters too. If we wear our letters around, people are gonna be like, ‘What is that organization?’ We’re gonna be like, ‘This is the cool organization. We’re like the dance department.’”

Secretary and Treasurer Brianna Denmark, who is majoring in general studies with a concentration in dance, sees the fraternity as a “great new start.”

“As of right now, you don’t see dance advertised as much because it is all us, so by us branching out, going out to like the Greek, sorority, fraternity world, we can get more recognition for that just to say, ‘Hey, we’re here,’” said Denmark. “We contribute to this school.”

Cervini discussed how she got involved with dance at the university.

“When I came here to Southeastern, I wasn’t aware that there was a dance program, and I just so happened to get lucky that I had a class,” said Cervini. “It’s called Honor 191. It’s like a mixed arts class, and Skip was actually one of the teachers. And I found out that day that they were holding the last audition for a main stage piece they were doing called ‘Bayourella.’ It was last fall, and I found out that day. And I went and auditioned. From then, I’ve been stuck in the program.”

Denmark shared what dance means to her.

“It’s just that feeling of freedom,” said Denmark. “I can express myself. I can express my thoughts through my own dancers if I choreograph a piece. It’s a sense of relief, kind of like therapy for me, and it’s just a way to get everything out. It’s a beautiful form of art.”

Whiteside described the benefits of joining the society.

“It will get them more involved in the dance department itself, but it’s also good for outside like whenever you go out for future jobs,” said Whiteside. “It’ll be a good thing to have on your resume. It gets you more involved. It has activities. It keeps your grades up. It’s just all around a beneficial society to be in.”

Denmark discussed why people should join Chi Tau Epsilon.

“We are very welcoming,” said Denmark. “Skip welcomes anyone and everyone. He is very excited. I’d say just give it a chance. You don’t have to jump right into like a choreography class or anything. Just take a simple technical class like a contemporary class, and just try it out, test the waters. People usually love doing those dances. They just don’t realize it’s here.”

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