In a collaboration between Wittenberg, Clark State, and the Springfield community, the hit dance competition - Dance, Stomp, Shake - returns on Sunday, Feb. 27. This year, two Wittenberg students in Amya Brown, class of 2023 and Tristan Dietsch, class of 2024, are working on the committee.
Dance, Stomp, Shake first began in 2019 when members of Wittenberg's Concerned Black Students (CBS) approached Julius Bailey, professor of philosophy, about putting on a dance show. Students from CBS enthusiastically worked with Bailey, who is also director of African & Diaspora Studies and of Justice, Law & Public Policy at Wittenberg, to resurrect a new version of a dance program he had put on during his time in Illinois nearly two decades ago. This first show, put on in 2020, was met with success and enthusiasm from the Springfield community and youth dancers in the Midwest.
The program took a break in 2021 due to COVID-19, but in the meantime, it began to grow beyond its origins as a CBS project into a more community-driven event. Wittenberg students, however, remain vital to its planning, marketing, and execution.
Dietsch, who plans to major in business, took on his work for Dance, Stomp, Shake as an independent study exploring “how hip-hop culture has shaped the U.S. and cultural norms.” Throughout the past few months, Dietsch has been at Bailey's side helping with set up, working with the committee, and learning all he can.
The program purposely coincides with Black History Month, honoring its start as a joint venture between CBS and Bailey. It focuses primarily on hip-hop, a style of dance that traces its origins back to New York City's black community in the 1960s and ’70s. As indicated by Dietsch: “There is much to be learned by connecting this history with America's cultural development and witnessing first-hand its role in culture today.”
A hip-hop dance workshop will take place on Saturday, Feb. 26. Hosted by Elevated, the 2021 World of Dance Champions, the workshop will be held at the Global Impact STEM Academy from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. for approximately 100 area youths. Elevated, from Cleveland, Ohio, was founded in 2015 by Howard Washington and has grown into an internationally acclaimed group.
Along with the performance by Elevated, the dance showcase on Sunday will feature a dozen talented teams from across the Midwest competing for over $4,000 in prizes. There will be six majorette teams and seven hip-hop teams vying for the prize money, including one team from Springfield, Black Diamonds. Additionally, there will be showcase performances from members of Springfield High School’s Dance Team, and the event will be co-hosted by Springfield High’s homecoming queen and king, Delian Bradley and Jay Moss.
Several generous sponsors have teamed up this year to present the show including in alphabetical order including Clark State University, the Greater Springfield Partnership, Key Ads, Park National Bank, Springfield City Schools, the Springfield Foundation, White-Allen Chevrolet, the Wright and Schulte Law Firm and various programs and departments at Wittenberg University.
As a member of the committee, Amya Brown has worked on many of the logistical aspects of bringing in so many teams to the city. Majoring in communication and digital media and minoring in entrepreneurship, Brown explains that planning the event has allowed her to gain practical experience in her chosen fields of study. She has worked on tasks such as “building relationships with donors, seeking hotels for all those involved, finding restaurants, and other businesses we need to make our guests comfortable."
As the students working on the program point out, Wittenberg is a key piece of the Springfield community, and student involvement in the community has benefits for everyone. Especially during the past year with COVID, students and members of the Springfield community have faced many challenges. This year's rendition of Dance, Stomp, Shake provides an opportunity for everyone to come together, have fun, and see some talented dancers (with extra precautions for COVID, of course).
Bailey also emphasizes the importance of Wittenberg and its students engaging with the community through Dance, Stomp, Shake: "The event is a community-focused event and seeks to do an intentional job of merging Witt with Springfield in its structure. For us at Witt to be true to our care for others and fully engage ourselves within the city that we are in, we must partner with community partners and residents.”
Both Brown and Dietsch highly encourage everyone to attend the show. As Brown says, "Please come out to enjoy the show. It's great for the community to come out and enjoy the excitement with one another because it shows that we are all in this together even with COVID still going on."
This year, Dance, Stomp, Shake will take place at the Clark State Performance Arts Center on Sunday, Feb. 27. Students can email Baily at email@example.com for free tickets while supplies last or purchase tickets on Ticketmaster.
For more information, check out @dancestompshake on Instagram and Facebook or call 217-454-0622.
-By Isabella M. Fiorito ’23