Popular TV Competition Replicated at RIC: “Smart Dancing with the Stars of RIC”

RIC students Miguel Alcantara and Gretchen Hanson. Photo credit: Jose Rodriguez.

RIC students Miguel Alcantara and Gretchen Hanson. Photo credit: Jose Rodriguez.


One of the most popular entertainment shows on television was replicated at RIC – “Smart Dancing With the Stars of RIC.” This ballroom dance competition drew 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 aka “The Dancing Cop” and RIC President Nancy Carriuolo.

The “stars” (faculty, staff and friends of RIC) partnered 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 Silver at Yale, partnered with Rob Franzblau, RIC professor of music and conductor of the RIC Wind Ensemble.

Franzblau said that he is not a complete neophyte when it comes to dance. 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 competed against each other for judges’ points. Each couple’s dance style was selected randomly from a hat. Franzblau drew the Hustle and had to revisit the disco era. He said, “I was bummed when I drew the Hustle card. I would have loved to have performed an Argentine Tango.” When asked if he would costume himself in the clothing of the disco era, which included shirts 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 move from a member of the Ballroom Dance Club, freshman Shane Crellin who took 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.”

On the night of the competition, the dancers were 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.

This event was sponsored by RIC’s Ballroom Dance Club and the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance. Half of the ticket proceeds will go toward hosting the New England Ballroom Competition at RIC on March 30, 2014.