Dance group defined by unique backgrounds

 Nashville senior Ashlee Robinson, center, helps lead the MajorRedz dancers.

Lashana Harney

The MajorRedz dance to a different beat here at WKU. 

The MajorRedz is a student-formed variation of a majorette dance team, drawing influence from multiple music genres. 

Lexington sophomore MarShaye Griffin described it as a “mixture of ballet and jazz.” 

Nashville senior Mariah Tibbs, team captain and coach, said in September 2010, she and a few of her friends began a team out of their passion for dancing. The Topperettes, the official WKU dance team, and the WKU cheerleading team didn’t fit their style.

Tibbs said starting a separate, different style of dance team on campus was a way to add diversity. 

“We were trying to figure out where we belong, to feel more at home,” she said. 

Louisville junior and MajorRedz dancer Jade Wilson said the dance style of MajorRedz is usually found on the campuses of historically black colleges and universities.

“It’s like a genre in itself,” Wilson said.

Evansville sophomore Jessica Jackson said this unique style of dance was new to several members of the team who come from different dancing backgrounds. 

“I come from a cheerleading background, a lot of people come from a hip-hop background, so like, changing to majorette style is one of the biggest problems we’ve had,” Jackson said.

“There’s a lot of technique that comes from majorette dancing, and we didn’t know it.”

Tibbs said MajorRedz is more lenient than the Topperettes and the WKU cheerleading team when it comes to accepting members and will work with a student who does not know the dance routine as long as they are willing.

The time frame for auditions varies, but they are held at least once a year. Typically auditions last two to three days. 

Tibbs said the more experienced dance members and the coaches will teach the auditioning students the routine. The students will be expected to perform it on the last day of auditions, where a panel of judges take note of technique, performance and enthusiasm.  

Tibbs said the team dances with the WKU Band in the stands during home football games and performs at various events on campus, and plans to perform in this year’s Homecoming parade.

Tibbs said presently, because of the team members’ busy lifestyle, practices are somewhat spontaneous.

“For now, we practice three nights a week and game weeks, we have it four times a week,” Tibbs said. 

Wilson said MajorRedz has difficulty finding places to practice because they are not considered an official athletic team. 

“A lot of times we just get in where we fit in,” she said.

One of the places where the team has practiced is in Downing Student Union.

The MajorRedz pay for most expenses, such as uniforms, out of pocket. The girls fundraise through bake sales and car washes to cover a portion of their purchases. 

Tibbs said one of the team’s core strengths is persistence.

“We don’t give up,” Tibbs said.

Tibbs said the team is currently pushing for a performance slot during halftime at football games because it wants more recognition.

“We’ve been in the same spot for a long time,” Tibbs said. “We’re hoping the campus will be more open to us. We want to be embraced like family, more so than anything.”

Head coach of the Topperettes Laura Iverson said she considers the MajorRedz as just another dance team of the school.

“I don’t consider them rivals,” she said.

Iverson said she doesn’t know much about MajorRedz, but believes that having more than one dance team adds to the university’s spirit. 

“The more the merrier,” Iverson said.