Photo by Lucy Wimmer
By Amanda Carl
On March 2, Sewanee Idol raised funds for the Costa Rica and New Orleans outreach trips. Sewanee fraternities and sororities annually encourage new members to perform lip-syncs and choreographed dances for a show sponsored by the Outreach Program. The majority of Greek Life packed into Cravens Hall to amuse and entertain with a variety of dances, two solo performances, one a capella number, and numbers by several outreach trip groups, each entry vying for the title of Sewanee Idol Champions.
The show opened with two very enthusiastic co-hosts, Rob McAlister (C’12) and Michelle Howell (C’15), dressed in a flashy tuxedo and ball gown respectively. Judges included student choreographer Fridien Nana Tchoukoua (C’17), known for his choreography and performances in Perpetual Motion and DanceWise; Assistant Dean of Students for Student Organizations Hagi Bradley; Residential Life’s Becca Yates; Catherine Casselman (C’17); and Spanish professor Arturo Marquez-Gomez.
The gentlemen of Alpha Tau Omega began the night in an energetic number with moves reminiscent of 80’s aerobics. The crowd cheered when they next stripped to wife-beater shirts during Benny Benassi’s “Satisfaction.” They ended with one dancer jumping in the middle of the group, lip-syncing Justin Beiber’s “Baby” while sporting a haircut that brought Bieber’s famous 2009 hairstyle to mind.
MC McAlister commented afterwards, “I can’t wait to hear what Hagi thinks of those tank tops,” to which Bradley responded, “Those wife-beaters were an interesting choice. Some of them need to work those arms, just saying.”
The ladies of Kappa Omega donned blazers and opted for a full-song dance to “The Time Warp” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. One girl at a time danced in the front and led this very fun and catchy dance. The audience was pleasantly surprised when Caroline Wright (C’20) broke out into full-fledged Irish step-dancing at the end.
Chi Psi’s seven participants were ready with a dance to “Larger than Life” by *NSYNC, decked in black sports coats and jeans. They charmed the audience with their confident stage presence and well-coordinated 90’s boy band dance moves. “Y’all weren’t *NSYNC, but y’all were in sync,” commented Yates.
The Costa Rica outreach group, including their leader McAlister, danced to a montage of songs with the theme of “middle school dance.” They paired up and danced awkwardly to Taylor Swift’s “Love Story,” but soon let loose, busting out the moves to Soulja Boy’s “Crank That.”
Theta Kappa Phi included 30 dancers in their performance. They blacked out the stage, each dancer decked in darkness, wild-eyed, with black or blue lipstick. Their dance had a tribal theme, featuring songs like Kanye’s “No Church in the Wild” and a remix of “The Circle of Life” from the Lion King. In keeping with the theme, the dance ended with every girl on the ground except one girl lip-syncing a lion roar. The crowd roared back because the dancer’s energy got the audience worked up. Bradley said, “Y’all were having fun on that floor!”
The New Orleans group, led by Howell, did a fun dance to “Fergalicious.” Members paired off and performed mini dance battles against each other. One dancer made the audience go wild when she did a split, and the group danced themselves off stage.
Alexa Dudley (C’20), one of two solo performances, gave her rendition of Kristin Chenoweth’s “Taylor the Latte Boy,” a song that spoke to judge Casselman’s heart because she works at Stirling’s. There was no background music, just Dudley’s Broadway-worthy voice.
Kappa Delta’s pledges were surprisingly the only ones to dance to Beyoncé. They were garbed in black pants and sports bras with colorful flannels around their waists. These girls brought out some complicated and sexy dance moves, keeping it modern with a flashback to Rae Sremmurd’s song “Black Beatles” that topped charts in 2016.
Sewanee’s own Cadence, the all-female acapella group on campus, slowed down T. Pain’s “Buy U A Drank” for a sassy rendition. Soloists Anna Hunley (C’18), Julia Harrison (C’20), Sasha Green (C’17) and Yin Agbontaen (C’18) rocked their parts, the one downside being that only one microphone was available, and it was harder to hear the chorus singers.
McAlister cracked jokes to stall for time before the next piece, which was a solo dance by Miranda Lyu (C’20). Her dance was a saucy little number with lots of hip hop dance moves that got the crowd on their feet. While Casselman called the dance “incredible,” all Nana had to say was “Yaaas.”
Probably the most entertaining piece of the night was a musical number lip-synced by Phi Kappa Epsilon. Anyone who has ever seen High School Musical, or has a sister, remembers the song in the cafeteria, “Stick to the Status Quo.” The pledges dressed like your typical high school jocks, cheerleaders, band geeks, and stoners. The set included a backflip, a McClurg tray with actual food, and a laser-light disco ball for the finale. Every person in the audience was singing along.
Two Que Dogs from Omega Psi Phi, Kirk Murphy (C’17) and Brandon Iracks-Edelin (C’18), performed a step dance, complete with camo shorts and signature gold boots. Michael Jackson-esque dance moves “bow-wow”ed the audience and had them panting when their shirts came off. It was finished off with the very fitting “Atomic Dog” and the audience begging for more.
The men of Sigma Alpha Epsilon dressed mostly in black and did interpretative dancing to the song “Sounds of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel. All 23 of them joined in some twirling, swaying, and some did impressive cartwheels. “SAE, that was special,” declared Bradley, laughing.
Delta Kappa Epsilon kept things short and sweet with another *NSYNC dance to “Bye Bye Bye” in classic grey warm-ups. Each guy knew the moves by heart, just not at the same time. They tried to save themselves at the end by taking off their jackets and shirts, which seemed the theme of the night at this point. Bradley said, “I couldn’t look away.”
Sigma Nu chose a song that is hard to ruin, Toto’s “Africa.” They kept it in SNU style, wearing basketball jerseys over long sleeved t-shirts with sunglasses. Two of them sang into the mic over the music, and eventually they all joined in belting “Africa,” while a few pretended to be fighting. Casselman quipped, “I knew what song was playing but I don’t know what song y’all were singing.”
Phi Gamma Delta (Fiji) switched things up by lip-syncing together with hand motions. Each one wore short jean shorts with plaid shirts, straw hats, and cowboy boots. They sang “Hurt” by Johnny Cash, with one in the middle pretending to strum a guitar along to the music, and one pledge dressed as Guy Fieri eating spaghetti from a McClurg bowl. Though a subtle display, they still won a standing ovation from the judges.
Last to perform was Theta Pi, reigning champions from last year’s Idol. The pledges danced in segments, and each group had a coordinating outfit, whether it was a colorful 80’s workout theme, daisy dukes and flannels, or hip hop outfits complete with jerseys. It was apparent that they did not want to lose their title, as each segment was wonderfully coordinated and executed, and they had lots of energy, with each girl smiling.
By 9 p.m. in the sweaty auditorium, each group anticipated the winner while the judges deliberated for five minutes. Tchoukoua announced two honorable mentions: Lyu and the Costa Rica outreach group. The Que Dogs received third place, the New Orleans trip earned second place, and the brothers of Chi Psi won first place as Sewanee Idol Champions. Each performance was wildly entertaining, whether or not there was talent involved, making the night a hit.