Skip to main content

MC Students Enjoy Show-Stopping Performances, Helping Others During Spirited Swerve Competition

Members of Shawreth Men's Club rehearse for the Swerve dance competition on the Swor Auditorium stage in Nelson Hall Feb. 28.
Members of Shawreth Men's Club rehearse for the Swerve dance competition on the Swor Auditorium stage in Nelson Hall Feb. 28.

Bethany Bradshaw fell in love with the art of dance at an extremely early age.

She started taking classes at age 3 and danced competitively and pre-professionally until she was 16.

When she was asked to join New Kidz on the Block, one of the most accomplished groups to take the stage in the electrifying Swerve dance competition at Mississippi College, Bradshaw couldn’t respond fast enough.

“I was ecstatic, honored, and sold!” exclaimed the junior exercise science major and biology minor from Dothan, Alabama. “I was drawn to the competitiveness of the team and how everyone came from some kind of dance-based background, resulting in a technical and more challenging dance.”

She danced the part of a clown in the New Kidz’ circus-themed performance last year – at one point, she served up a captivating solo tap routine – helping the team to yet another Swerve title.

“It was one of the most fun group dances I’ve ever been a part of,” she said. “I loved getting to be goofy for my character.

“Dancing in Swerve is unlike any other adrenaline rush I have ever experienced. The hype from the audience and encouragement from your peers and classmates makes me proud to be an MC student.”

This year’s competition, scheduled for 9 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 29, in Swor Auditorium in Nelson Hall, has been sold out for weeks – a testament to its growing popularity at MC.

“I think Swerve is so popular because of how much fun it is to watch your friends perform,” Bradshaw said. “You don’t have to know anything about dance or the arts to appreciate the hype and energy that happens on stage.”

Sponsored by the Office of Student Engagement, the competition lets MC students showcase their dancing skills while vying for a cash prize to benefit their designated philanthropy. Nine of the 10 Clubs and Tribes at MC and three independent teams are set to compete for the coveted Swerve title this year.

Swerve contains similar elements to Follies, MC’s annual Homecoming show, but there are subtle differences. Swerve routines are more streamlined – performances last 5 minutes apiece, half as long as Follies skits – and on-stage hosts entertain the audience while sets are broken down between each dance.

Competing acts range from a swing dance team to hip-hop, classical, and modern dance performances. Routines are set to music, from classic Disney favorites and nostalgic throwbacks to more contemporary releases.

Everyone on the Clinton campus was invited to participate, and teams have been practicing their routines since early January.

Swerve productions virtually rely on costumes, music, and dance alone. There are no props or dialogue, just graceful, enthusiastic dancing. According to Jordan Little, student productions chair for the event, the secret to competition’s success lies in its simplicity.

“I like Swerve because the simplicity allows for more creativity,” said Little, a senior public relations major from Madison, who has competed in Swerve for three different dance teams. “It’s only a five-minute performance, therefore toy have to be more intentional with the content put on stage.

“It’s such a fun tradition that we get to be a part of, and I’m excited to participate one last time.”

Little grew up participating in dance and theater and was delighted to discover MC offered an opportunity for students to “strut their stuff” in the spring competition. This year, she is assisting all of the teams with their routines.

“My hope is that even a little bit of my input will allow teams to become more confident in their show and be proud, no matter the result.”

New Kidz captured the title last year, which allowed them to donate money from Swerve ticket sales to Mississippi College Dance Marathon, the University’s branch of the Children’s Miracle Network Dance Marathon. Bradshaw said New Kidz has selected Dance Marathon as its designated charity for this year’s Swerve as well.

“My favorite part of participating in Swerve is having fun with my friends doing something that we all love,” she said. “This is especially true on the New Kidz team since most of us came from dance backgrounds.

“It’s so much fun sharing something with others, and there’s nothing like hearing the audience get hyped while you’re dancing. It’s one of the best feelings.”

It’s a feeling that comes with a price. Bradshaw said preparing for the competition take plenty of time and effort.

“There are a lot of late nights and saying “No” to other things,” she said. “It’s also really physically challenging. A lot of things we do in dance work muscles that are otherwise difficult to target in the gym with weights, so there’s a lot of soreness and pain.”

She said the effort was rewarded when her team handed over its monetary prize to Dance Marathon last year.

“It’s fun to win for the sake of it sometimes, but being able to give to Children’s of Mississippi through Dance Marathon was an honor and a blessing.”

Swerve audiences have come to expect professional-level performances, and Little said this year’s competitors are working hard to maintain that reputation.

“Swerve shows have grown immensely since its beginnings,” she said. “My personal goal is to make sure the whole show runs smoothly with no hiccups. I hope that every team is equipped to put on a talented show they can be proud of.

“Swerve is such a fun tradition that allows the campus to come together and support a great cause, no matter the winner. I love that the end result is not about any students at MC, but a philanthropy that will be gifted the earnings.”