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Community Expo inspires dance fever

Watch Lehigh students, staff and faculty perform a "flash mob" dance routine to Katy Perry's "Fireworks."

The Lehigh "flash mob" performs its dance routine.

This year’s Community and Club Expo kicked off in dramatic fashion when Lehigh University Police Officer Richard Holmes rolled onto Linderman walkway—the light on his Segway flashing and siren blaring—and jumpstarted a choreographed dance routine that involved nearly 75 students, staff and faculty.

The late afternoon event took place under calm and sunny skies—a dramatic contrast from Hurricane Irene’s drenching rain and high winds, which pummeled the East Coast during the first weekend of the new academic year. By the time the event began, there was little evidence of the violent storm, thanks largely to the herculean efforts of the Facilities Services team and other work crews, who worked over the weekend to clear fallen trees and limbs and fill sinkholes.

Hundreds of Lehigh students came to the expo to learn more about community offices and programs and gather information on the nearly 150 clubs and organizations open to students. But their attention was drawn to the Linderman walkway and the steps of the University Center, where the LU Dance Team and others performed a routine to Katy Perry’s hit song “Firework.”

As a widening circle of faculty, staff and students jumped in, more and more students drew closer to the dancers to take in the unfolding spectacle.

“I loved it. I love this kind of stuff,” said Holmes, who was recruited into action by Cheryl Ashcroft, the assistant dean of Academic Services, who organized the dance event. “She caught me at the hot dog stand one day and asked if I would do this, and I was happy to be involved.”

Working toward a common goal

For the past several months, Ashcroft headed up a planning team that included Assistant Director of Multicultural Affairs Courtney Jones, Dean of Students Coordinator Donna Clearie and Jackie Dunne ’12, an engineering major.  Collectively, the team logged hundreds of hours planning the event, recruiting volunteers and hosting a series of practice sessions for the routine, which originally was planned for move-in day Aug. 25, but had to be rescheduled because of the impending hurricane.

“It turned out great,” said Ashcroft afterward. “Originally, I planned this to promote health and wellness and a sense of community here on campus. I thought it would be a great way to bring together all sorts of people of different backgrounds and work toward a common goal. But we all had a lot of fun, too.”

If the reaction of the crowd was any indication, Ashcroft more than met her goal.

“I thought it was fantastic,” said Kathleen Hutnik, director of Graduate Student Life. “It was a great way to meet people I didn’t know. I wish the practices could continue—they were so much fun.”

Sophomores Alexa Elias and Leah Paulson were among those watching the dance, and offered their endorsement. “It was awesome,” Paulson said.  Added Elias: “Everyone was watching the dancers. They looked like they were having a lot of fun.”

The sole dissenting opinion was delivered tongue-in-cheek by Robbie McKay ’12, who watched the event from the Linderman Library courtyard.  “I noticed Maria McKay was a little out of sync,” he said of the administrative coordinator. “But I can say that—I’m her son.”
 
Photos by Douglas Benedict

Story by Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Tuesday, August 30, 2011

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