Popular TV Competition Comes to RIC: “Smart Dancing With the Stars of RIC”

Ballroom dancing
Rhode Island College Impact

RIC students Miguel Alcantara and Gretchen Hanson compete in a ballroom dance competition at Yale University.

Tonight one of the most popular entertainment shows on television is being replicated at RIC – “Smart Dancing With the Stars of RIC.” This ballroom dance competition has drawn such “star power” as Karen Bordeleau, senior vice president and executive editor of the Providence Journal, and a distinguished panel of judges: Alex and Ani’s Carolyn Rafaelian and Giovanni Feroce; Tony Lepore “The Dancing Cop”; and RIC President Nancy Carriuolo.

The “stars” (faculty, staff and friends of RIC) will partner with members of RIC’s Ballroom Dance Club, a 32-member organization that recently came away with Bronze, Silver and Gold at a Yale ballroom dance competition. Gretchen Hanson, who took first-place Silver at Yale, will be partnering with Rob Franzblau, RIC professor of music and conductor of the RIC Wind Ensemble.

Franzblau said that he is not a complete neophyte. In fact, more than 40 years ago he performed in high school and college musicals. Moreover, he said, “My wife loves to watch ‘Dancing With the Stars.’ So, I’m in this to win this.”

A total of 10 partners will compete against each other for judges’ points. Each couple’s dance style was selected randomly from a hat. Franzblau drew the Hustle and will be revisiting the disco era.

“I was bummed. I would have loved to have performed an Argentine Tango,” Franzblau said. When asked if he will costume himself in the clothing of the disco era, which normally involves a shirt unbuttoned down to the navel, gold chains, skintight bell bottoms and platform shoes, Franzblau’s face visibly whitened.

As far as preparing for the contest, Franzblau said the most challenging aspect has been remembering the choreography. “I also have a hard time remembering to move my upper body. Guys don't dance above the waist.” He is getting help on this from a member of the Ballroom Dance Club, freshman Shane Crellin who took first place Silver at the Yale competition.

Franzblau admits that he hasn’t told any of his students about his upcoming performance and even waited to tell his son – a senior music major at RIC. “It’s not something you go around bragging about,” he said. “I’m trying to keep all of this top secret.”

The dancers will be judged on such criteria as poise, their hold or frame, posture, musicality and expression, timing, body alignment and shape, floor craft, foot and leg action and presentation.

The competition will take place in the Student Union Ballroom at Rhode Island College. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 7:30 p.m.

Admission for RIC students is free. General admission is $10, an individual table seat is $25 and a full table of six seats is $200. To purchase tickets, contact Gina DiBona, president of the Ballroom Dance Club, at gdibona_2752@email.ric.edu. Half of the proceeds will go toward hosting the New England Ballroom Competition at RIC on March 30, 2014.

This event is sponsored by RIC’s Ballroom Dance Club and the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance.