Kelly Ehrler hops into a handstand. Two shirtless men in firefighter hats hold her legs up, and Ehrler begins to twerk upside down.
It’s not just another night in Chumash Auditorium. It’s a dance battle.
For sorority members such as Ehrler of Alpha Phi, Theta Chi’s Sorority’s Best Dance Crew on Wednesday was synonymous with hot competition and hotter moves.
“It gave our dance one of those moments where the audience went, ‘Oh snap!’” food science senior Ehrler said about her gravity-defying twerking. “It felt really good to hear the crowd go crazy when it happened.”
Theta Chi’s Sorority’s Best Dance Crew, launched in 2009, unites Panhellenic sororities in friendly competition.
Six to 10 girls from each participating sorority competed for the coveted dance crew trophy, bragging rights and charity.
“The biggest reward is handing over that check to the charity, knowing that we put all this together for a great cause,” Theta Chi’s philanthropy chair and biological sciences senior Grant Johnson said.
Last year, the philanthropy event raised $1,800 for Big Brothers, Big Sisters of San Luis Obispo County. This year, the fraternity estimated that the event raised at least $2,000 for the organization, Johnson said.
Seven Panhellenic sororities — Alpha Phi, Alpha Epsilon Phi, Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Omicron Pi, Chi Omega, Gamma Phi Beta and Kappa Alpha Theta — performed. Kappa Kappa Gamma, the newest sorority on campus, and Sigma Kappa did not compete.
This year, defending champion Chi Omega took home first place and a trophy Johnson compared to the “Stanley Cup of sorority dancing.”
This is the third consecutive year Chi Omega has won.
Communication studies senior and dancer for the Chi Omega team Natalie Schutt said the experience was “phenomenal.”
“We had a bunch of different girls — from freshmen to seniors — work together, and everyone threw out ideas for what they thought would be cool for the choreography, and that’s what led to the diversity of the dance,” Schutt said. “The surprising moments were the most exciting, like when I jumped into their arms, or the extra stuff, like the letters we held up or our rip-off pants.”
Schutt said although the event was all about having fun, the philanthropic element was never lost.
“Of course it’s exciting because it was the third year in a row we won, but our initial purpose for competing and putting all the time and effort in is that it was a philanthropy,” she said. “Everyone put in such a great effort because it was such a great philanthropy, and that made it really neat to watch.”
Approximately 550 audience members cheered on the sorority dance teams, and Schutt said the audience made all the difference.
“The turnout, wow, it was great,” Schutt said. “When you’re on stage you can’t see everyone — it’s pitch-black — but we could hear everyone.”
Theta Chi president Luke Kittinger, Cal Poly Orchesis Dance Company alumnus Darren Bridges and assistant professor of dance and theater Christy McNeil judged the routines.
Editor’s Note: Aryn Sanderson is a member of Alpha Epsilon Phi