Limelight: Greek life dances for Danica

Pi Kappa Phi’s “Game of Thrones” themed dance won the annual Limelight dance competition, benefitting Chi Omega’s 2019 Wish Kid, Danica Duston, a 5-year-old from Columbus, MS.

Mississippi State University sorority Chi Omega held their annual Limelight Competition in the Humphrey Coliseum this past Friday night.

Limelight is a dance competition that brings together the fraternities and sororities of MSU to perform choreographed dance routines in an effort to raise money for Chi Omega’s philanthropy, the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Chi Omega’s Limelight is the culmination of “Wish Week,” a week of various activities and events, such as a taco night and worship night, put on by Chi Omega to raise money for Make-a-Wish. 

Mallie Donald, a senior studying education psychology and Chi Omega’s philanthropy chair, said last year’s event raised around $25,000 and helped grant over 90 wishes.

A lot of planning goes into an event the size of Limelight, Donald said

“I started planning it around last March. I have to go through the Hump to make sure we can meet with them. Once I get that set up, I communicate with Make-a-Wish, they select a family to be our wish family. I have to coordinate with event services for speakers and sound equipment, Aramark for concessions, campus security for security in the Hump. It's a lot, but I have several assistants to help oversee it throughout the week. I just have to be aware of what's going on,” Donald said.

All the planning eventually comes together to bring all of the on-campus Greek organizations together for one purpose: to benefit this year’s Wish Kid, Danica Duston. Danica is a five-year-old from Columbus who was diagnosed with a Wilm’s tumor in July of 2018. After undergoing surgery to remove the tumor, she underwent radiation therapy and is completing her chemotherapy at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. 

All in support of Danica, hundreds of attendees, both Greek and non-Greek, filled the Hump, eagerly awaiting the dance numbers to come. 

The performances themselves consisted of themed dance routines, complete with costumes and occasional singing. Themes included pop culture powerhouses such as “Game of Thrones,” “Toy Story,” “The Office” and even Super Mario Brothers. Other routines were themed around a central idea, such as an airplane flight or the wild west. The routines are set to a unique soundtrack with contemporary and classic pop songs spliced together, each one introducing another aspect of the theme or the next part of the dance routine. These routines even have stunts with backflips, vaults, spins and a human pyramid. 

Tyler Packer, a junior political science major and Pi Kappa Phi member, described the process of practicing for the performance.  

“I was very ambitious this year. We had a lot of crazy stunts, a lot of tumbling, all kinds of shenanigans. So, I told them, 'Y'all it’s gonna be intense, we're gonna do morning practice and evening practice.' So, the first week we just did morning practices, and then the second week we hyped it up. We did morning practice and evening practice, two-a-day, and we got the work done,” Packer said.

The high energy of the performances was infectious, with the crowd erupting in cheers when the dancers pull off an impressive stunt or formation. Danica herself took the stage during the intermission, performing her own impromptu routine to Queen’s “We are the Champions." As the crowd cheered, she ran around the stage, eventually leading the entire crowd to sing along with the song, complete with phone lights and arm-waving. Soon after, the lights went off again and more acts took to the stage.

After the last group of competitors left the stage, a group of girls from the Brickfire Project Mentoring Program went up to perform a number of their own, followed by the freshman Chi Omegas, who closed out the performances for the evening with a Disney-themed number.

At the end of the competition, the judges revealed their decision, with each competitor facing judgment based on attendance of chapter members, their banners and their dance performance. For fraternities, Sigma Phi Epsilon came in third, Beta Upsilon Chi came in second, and Pi Kappa Phi earned first place. For the sororities, Kappa Delta placed third, Phi Mu placed second and Delta Gamma placed first.

However, as incredible as the victory feels, the members of the winning organizations were in agreement on the true purpose of Limelight. Camille Grady, a sophomore foreign language major and performer for winning sorority Delta Gamma, said Limelight is more than just an entertaining night. 

“Honestly, seeing everyone dance, especially the fraternities dance, is probably the funnest part of it. Also, just to see everyone come together to support something as great as Make-a-Wish, that's the real reason,” Grady said. 

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