Rockin’ Against Multiple Sclerosis, or RAMS, is the single best event of the year. Not only do I get to dance, but I get to dance for a cause. And not only do I get to choreograph, but I get to choreograph for a lip-synching competition!
RAMS is a philanthropic organization at the University of Missouri that fundraises money for the MS Institute of Mid-Missouri. There are a ton of events, like a 5K and a service day, but my favorite is Rock-It, the lip-synching dance competition between sororities and fraternities. It’s the most intense production that college students are capable of pulling off; each routine is an elaborate skit complete with costumes, choreography, and sophisticated sound mixing. It’s over-the-top and hilarious and I love every minute of it.
Given my flair for theatrics, I’ve been the Rock-It director for Sigma Kappa the past two years. This means I choreograph, design costumes, mix the music, build sets, and most importantly, create the theme. And the theme is the most important part, because the most points are given for creativity. The more creative the theme, the better (“Girl Power” and “Rihanna” don’t usually go over as well as “How to Get Away with Murder” and “Seven Deadly Sins”).
This year, I took a risk and chose a wacky theme: Arcade.
To a lot of people, RAMS is just an entertaining night with fun dances and skits. To me, RAMS is a lifesaver. It’s a creative outlet. It’s a side project that I can put my extra pent-up energy into when I’d otherwise be running around in circles overthinking everything.
RAMS has taught me a lot about what it means to have a team of people who believe in your vision and support a big idea, no matter how insane it sounds. Without the 20 other dancers trusting in me and showing up to practice and giving it their all, my crazy idea of having Pinball, PacMan, Snake, Tetris, MarioKart, and DDR danced out onstage in a 5-minute span would not have happened. We would not have gone onstage and shocked and delighted a huge audience. We would not have contributed to an event for an incredible cause. And we would not have taken the risk.
On the surface we look like a dance team. But this is a team of visionaries. They showed me how powerful it is to embrace what’s different and new, dive deep into unknown solutions to problems that come up, and innovate where no other team has gone before. I’ve never seen a sorority attempt to be human pixels in a lip-synching competition, and the moment PacMan busted onstage was unlike any other the audience saw that night. Moments like those are why I love what I do, and why I’m proud to be a choreographer.
Last year, I choreographed a boxing theme, and we won second place for the first time in our sorority’s history. This year I’m not sure we’ll even make it to the final round, because the theme was a huge risk that might’ve been lost on the judges. But it wasn’t lost on the audience. So whether we win or not, we did something different. And that makes me more proud than any kind of prize. In anything I do, whether it’s creating a PR campaign in the future or starting my own business, I will never forget what it feels like to make a big, crazy idea happen from start to finish. I’ll never stop doing it either.
Here’s to the risk takers, movers and shakers.
P.S. Update: We ended up making it to the final round. Score one for originality!