Professors show off moves at annual fundraiser
In academia, professors often face large crowds of snoozing, drooling students who wait for the ticking clock to release them from the grips of learning.
But when professors shed their pantsuits and don sultry dresses and dashing tuxedos, they can dazzle a crowd with dance moves you won’t see in Five Points.
Dancing with the Deans occurs but once a year inside the Russell House Ballroom. It pits eight deans — paired with professors or administrators at Carolina — against one another in a dancing frenzy, choreographed by professionals and practiced for hours.
The cause: USC’s Family Fund, a pool of money generated from faculty and staff who donate for scholarships and a litany of other areas. Before the shindig, officials from the development office solicit gifts for the fund, which has raised more than $35 million since the 1970s, according to USC.
Three judges mete out scores, much to the delight or chagrin of the masses, who flock in droves for this almost surreal experience. The free lunch might also help.
“When you think academics, you don’t think this,” said John Farley, the chief meteorologist at WIS-TV and one of the judges. “I’m going to need a cold drink or a cold shower.”
Lemuel Watson and Jill Michels, this year’s winners, almost achieved a perfect score with their up-tempo, sexy cha-cha, synced with Michael Jackson’s “Pretty Young Thing”. They grooved across the floor, matching in a fuchsia and black getup that wowed the judges.
“Typically we prefer garnet and black, but if you can wear fuchsia like that, it works,” said Larry Hembree, director of special programs at the Nickelodeon Theatre and another judge.
Farley, after delivering effusive praise for the routine, gave a brief sensual growl. The duo said they practiced about seven times and that the performance went off “perfectly.”
Charles Bierbauer, dean of the College of Mass Communications and Information Studies, played the mysterious role of James Bond, winning points for his intense facial expressions, according to the judges. Robert Wilcox, leader of USC’s law school, used a cane for a prop as he waltzed with professor Michelle Martin.
Margaret Lamb, known during daylight hours as USC’s spokeswoman, shimmied her way across the room, clad in a frilly flapper dress and a smile beaming across her face.
Along with her partner David Hodson, an assistant dean in the College of Nursing, she had just mastered a rousing version of the Charleston that transported audiences back into the 1920s.
The judgment began with Hembree.
“Margaret, Beyonce ain’t got nothing on you, girl.”