By: Emily Haney / Photos By: Emily Haney
Twenty-five years ago, the Ballroom Performance Group began what would become a tradition here in Athens. A rehearsal space housing only two spotlights crammed with people and dancers alike premiered the group’s first annual showcase. From then on, each performance has continued to take on an even bigger life of its own into what the show has become today. Ballroom Magic, the event’s official name, has upgraded to a space able to hold even more onlookers and has sold out performances the last couple of years.
In honor of the twenty-five years of ballroom success, the dancers pulled out all the stops for this annual event. The show opened with a montage of dances from past years featuring Ballroom Performance Group Alumni. This is the first time alumni have performed in a show. “We finally got a chance to get to know and interact with alumni. All we’ve seen before is old video footage,” says Joanna Szymonik, a senior exercise and sport science major from Poland. Each song from the montage offered audience members a glimpse into the past. Including the opening montage, the group performed twenty-five numbers in total — twenty-five numbers for twenty-five years.
Other numbers included classic favorites and newer pieces, some choreographed by senior members. Fog, silhouettes and props like tables and chairs brought more visual elements to some of the performances. A handful of pieces focused on the humorous side of dance. Dancers would mouth words to songs like “Hernando’s Hideway” and “It’s Raining Men.” Several performances were of a more serious nature. “Undisclosed Desires” and “All of Me” allowed the audience to be fully immersed in what was happening on stage. These pieces created a bond between the dancers and the spectators. Each piece was more entertaining than the last. “You don’t have to know anything about ballroom to appreciate it,” says Laurel Haislip, a senior communication studies major from Decatur.
“Somebody to Love,” a dance that has now been brought back for four years, was a crowd and dancer favorite of the night. “This has to be my favorite piece to perform in. The costumes. The acting. I love everything about it,” Szymonik says. “Somebody to Love” tells the story of a high school dance where the prom queen and everyone around her try to find their perfect match. The prom queen looks lost as she dances with a football player, a nerd and a cowboy before her match comes sliding in — literally. It’s a heartfelt piece filled with a calculator proposal, a few selfies and a concluding kiss.
A personal favorite for the night had to be “Nothing Else Matters.” The piece opened with Haislip playing a violin. She wears a red dress as she plays. Senior Rand Pope, sits in a chair in front of her taking notes on her performance. There’s a spark between the two. As soon as she finishes playing the violin, the two are torn apart and arrested. They struggle for the rest of the piece to reconnect with one another. Time and time again a group of dancers dressed in all gray block their path to one another. When they’re finally together again, it’s too good to be true - the girl is dead.
Like with the red dress in “Nothing Else Matters,” the costuming for every piece was unique. “Proud Mary” brought us dancers wearing Tina Turner’s signature fringe mini. Green outfits resembling seaweed surprised the crowd in “Under the Sea.” Aladdin and Jasmine took the stage for “A Friend Like Me.” A mixture of plaid and floral patterns transported the audience to the era of disco. Unfortunately, “It’s Raining Men” did not bring umbrellas or a storm of men. The costumes helped bring the songs to life, and in turn, the dancers brought the costumes to life.
The costumes like the overall performance would not have been a success without the countless hours of rehearsal time. The dancers began learning numbers back in August. It began with one or two numbers a month, and then as the event date grew closer, the number of dances increased exponentially. The week before the event, members were together daily running through pieces and working with a professional technical crew. It would take up to an hour for each piece to get the lighting worked out. “We could’ve performed in here, and it would’ve been nothing, but in there with the stage, lights and costumes, it brings it all to life,” says Haislip while standing in the rehearsal area.
The hard work and commitment from the Ballroom Performance Group paid off. By the time the last number arrived, the audience did not want the show to come to a close. As a way to ease the audience into the fact the show was now over, dancers invited audience members onto the stage for one last magical number. With all the events happening at UGA throughout the year, Ballroom Magic is not one to be missed. There’s a dance number for everyone.
By: Kyla Brinkley
My top 5 tips to turn common unwanted Christmas gifts into something useful
We all get gifts each year that we didn’t really want. Instead of tossing them, here are some ways to turn them into something you can actually use.
1. Regifting or swapping: If you really hate your gift (which is unfortunate), don’t throw it away. Someone else will surely appreciate it. If no one you know personally would want the item, you can always drop it off at your local thrift store or Goodwill.
2. Take apart an ugly purse and turn it into a wallet. It’s easier to get away with a more “creative” pattern with a smaller accessory. Since you’ll have plenty of leftover material, you can even make multiple wallets for your friends!
3. Paint an ugly coffee mug for use as a flower pot, pencil holder, or other household item. All it takes to redecorate and make a mug more in your taste is a few Sharpies and craft paint.
4. Turn an ugly Christmas sweater or PJ set into a pillowcase, or even make your own pillow by stuffing them with cotton and sewing them up. You can even make a throw blanket. Many “tacky” patterns are more acceptable as part of cute home décor rather than a fashion statement. Reindeer pillows will surely give your holiday guests a smile, while that reindeer sweater may induce a more pained grimace. For another solution to hideous patterns, Megan Clark, a senior political science major from Cumming, suggests tie-dye. “My aunt gave me an ugly shirt with a bunch of Disney characters on the front so I tie-dyed it to make it cute and tone out the cartoony kids colors to look more like an outline of figures. It looked pretty cool,” she admitted.
5. Expensive jewelry can easily be pawned. However, for jewelry of the cheaper variety, feel free to take it apart for decorating anything from cell phone cases to key chains to your favorite jeans. Who needs a bedazzler?
My top 5 tips for converting holiday leftovers into delicious new meals
After the holidays we are often left with a fridge stuffed with leftovers from Christmas dinner. Here are some savvy tips to utilize your extra food so well, no one will get tired of it.
1. Transform leftover ham. This can be a life-saver at Christmas, when many of us cook up a huge ham with no idea what to do with the leftovers. Simply chop the ham into small bite-sized pieces and put them in a large pot. Add several chopped potatoes and several cups of green beans, several cups of water, and salt and pepper to taste. After letting it simmer for an hour or two, you’ll have a delicious but easy soup. You can also add kidney beans and more meat to make a hearty chili, perfect for cold winter nights!
2. Ham or turkey with pasta: Jessica Fant, a sophomore biological engineering major from Boiling Springs, South Carolina, shared, "My grandmother always uses the leftover turkey from Thanksgiving in spaghetti sauce to substitute for the ground beef usually put in. It’s honestly a healthier option anyway.” Similarly, you can also make your favorite bowl of mac and cheese and throw in some pieces of your favorite holiday meat to make it an even better meal that doesn’t scream, “We still have leftovers!”
3. Cranberry sauce smoothie: Many people love smoothies, and this is a quick and healthy way to utilize leftover cranberry sauce! It makes a great breakfast, lunch, or snack and it’s perfect if you are planning to eat healthier in the New Year. Here is the recipe:
PREP TIME: 5 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 5 MINUTES
This smoothie recipe calls for cranberry sauce ice cubes. To make these, glop cranberry sauce into an ice cube tray and freeze. Once frozen, pop out the cubes to make this smoothie. Yield 2 and 1/2 cups, Serves 2.
6 cubes of frozen cranberry sauce
1 apple, cored
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup non-fat milk
Put everything into a blender and blend until smooth.
4. Grilled gourmet turkey burgers: This tasty idea comes from Chef Zack Mills of the Four Seasons Hotel in Baltimore. To utilize leftover turkey, grind it up, mold it into patties and toss them on the grill. Top with mashed potatoes, gravy, and cranberry sauce for a fancy spin on Thanksgiving dinner. Some families, like that of Paige Caffrey, a sophomore early childhood education major from Alpharetta, like to keep it simple, though. She says, “After Thanksgiving dinner when we have lots of leftover turkey, we like to make turkey sandwiches.”
5. Vegetables: Breakfast scramble: Leftover vegetables can quickly become mushy and unappetizing especially when veggies are served with special holiday sauces. A helpful way to make soft leftover foods more appetizing is to make a simple vegetable quiche. Just buy enough eggs to make an egg-veggie mixture that will fill a pie shell, and add some shredded cheese, salt, pepper and herbs and bake until it is slightly hardened. Again, ham, sausage and leftover turkey can be added in to use more leftovers and create a heartier, more flavorful brunch favorite.
By Lauren Leising
For me, the New Year is one of my favorite times of year. Family comes to town, cold weather makes for evenings spent in front of a fire and hours are dedicated to coming up with bucket lists and planning future vacations. This season is jam-packed with holidays and most people look forward to taking time to unwind and enjoy the comforts of home. But for so many others, this time of year is one of the hardest. Finances grow tighter, stress levels rise and many families are unable to provide for themselves and their loved ones. For those experiencing poverty and homelessness, the holidays are a reminder of their situation and often leave them feeling hopeless and alone.
We’ve all seen poverty and homelessness at some point, usually in a news story briefly discussing some dry statistics that really left no impact. Or maybe it was in one of the movies that tend to pop up around the holiday season and try to tug at our heartstrings. What many people don’t realize is that those in need can be found right outside their own door. We often forget the reality and severity of poverty. According to surveys conducted by the University of Georgia, over 26,300 people live in poverty in Athens-Clarke County, taking the poverty rate over 28%, which is twice the national poverty rate.
Think about that for a minute. Not just as a statistic but also as a real situation affecting people like us. Keep in mind that those statistics are people.
When you begin to realize the weight of the poverty issues facing thousands around the nation and in your very own city, it is only natural to become unsettled and wonder what can be done.
With the goal of making a change in their community, many churches, organizations and student groups have worked to provide for those in need through food, clothing, shelter and meaningful friendships.
The Food Bank of North East Georgia is the largest distributer of food in this area. According to Jennifer Dunlop, the food bank’s marketing & development director, the food bank partners with over 226 agencies around North East Georgia in 14 counties to provide food to the community in need. Through these agencies, including the Bigger Vision Shelter in Athens and the Food to Kids program, the food bank has helped to provide millions of pounds of food every year to people who need it most. As a result of the number of groups willing to help, it has become easier to provide for those in need in our community.
Another group, made up of mostly students, is Athens PBJs, which strives to impact the homeless around the city through friendships and quality time spent encouraging and listening to each other. John Braucher, a fourth year English and cellular biology major from Athens explained that the group’s main focus is to fellowship with the homeless and to truly engage with them in a way that builds them up. “It’s about building friendships,” he said, “and friendships are hard.” The team encourages students and members of the community to spend time getting to know the people who are in need in the area in the same way they would get to know a new friend.
Often times, what someone who is homeless longs for most is to know that someone cares about them personally and loves them, a desire that is felt by everyone throughout life. It is easy to simply walk by those living on the streets and feel that twinge of sadness at their condition but to continue on your way because you think you have nothing to offer.
In reality, we all have something of immeasurable importance to give. Our time. Stopping to talk with someone you see can make a world of difference and remind him or her that someone cares. If you take the time to listen, you will find that they have a great deal more to say than you think and usually are more than willing to talk and just enjoy having company. This is what Athens PBJs emphasizes. Breaking down the walls to create real, strong friendships built on genuine love.
All of the groups that work with the less fortunate will say the same thing: give your time. As college kids, we often think that because expenses are tight that we can’t make a difference. But, as young people, we are blessed with a great deal of time that we can spend helping and investing in others. There are countless ways to get involved! All it takes is a little looking.
As the New Year rolls around, take some time to notice those around you and their needs. Every little thing helps, whether it is providing someone with a meal, volunteering or just taking a minute to stop and talk to them. One of the greatest things you can give someone is your time to listen to them and their story. Just a few minutes of conversation can brighten another person’s day in a way you can’t even imagine. It may surprise you what they have to say. Make it your goal this year to intentionally seek ways to be the change you want to see. After all, what better time for change than now?
By Lauren Leising
“May of 2016”
“In the spring”
Those are all responses that a graduating senior might give to the question “when are you graduating?” Granted they might be crying or shaking with fear when they answer, but that’s beside the point.
If you’re like me and the thought of leaving this fine school is almost unbearable, you know that don’t have much time before you have to go into the real world and be an adult. So, you have to make do with the time that you left.
How is that going to be done? By completing a list of must-do’s before you graduate!
Everyone has his or her own list of things, but there are a few that seem to be the most common, a few that everyone wants to get done before leaving.
Here are five things to do before graduating according to College Tourist.
There are many other things to do before you graduate other than the things on this list. “Take pictures of yourself riding every bulldawg in Athens,” Kleigh Strawder, a junior mechanical engineering major from Albany, Georgia advises. Find them all, and pose with those stoic statues.
Ask your friends. Get advice from upperclassmen. Obtain all the help that you can.
Make the most of these years before those fireworks go off in the stadium.
By Ashton Pike
Every year, during the few weeks leading up to January 1, it seems that there is a national obsession with all things “new and improved”. Whether it’s reinventing yourself to construct the “new you”, taking on new adventures with friends in order to break out of your comfort zone, or merely the “I promise I’ll start going to the gym this year” cliché that most people tell themselves; regardless of the actual thing being changed, people have this idea set into their mind that everything must be new at the turn of the new year, because “new year, new you”, right?
Well that doesn’t always have to be the case. There is something that the majority of people are missing within the word “new”. New doesn’t necessarily have to possess the “brand new” meaning that most place upon it; instead, “new” can simply be something that has existed for a while, but has never been experienced by yourself in particular. Technically it isn’t brand new, but it could be brand new to you! So while everyone else is focusing on finding the best new thing this year, find the good within the old at these locations in Athens that could be your next “new” favorite spot.
Even though some people may have a hard time admitting it, sometimes Starbucks and Jittery Joe’s don’t curb the coffee craving. It may be difficult to hear that there is coffee outside of the two chains, but it’s true, and they are just as delicious! Two places hiding among the chain coffee shops are Mr. Mr. Café and Sips Coffee Shop. Mr. Mr. Café is located on Baxter Street and is a safe haven away from the busy atmosphere of downtown coffee shops; plus it’s a closer walk than downtown! With delicious coffee – hot and iced – along with numerous flavors of bubble teas and smoothies, Mr. Mr. Café has a lot to offer and even better prices for a college student’s budget.
If you’re up for a short drive to Prince Avenue, Sips Coffee Shop is a quaint place with the majority of the seating being an outdoor patio, which, on beautiful days, has the windows open to welcome the cool, crisp breeze. Local artists often times display their artwork along the shop’s walls, giving students something beautiful to look at while they enjoy their cup of coffee. Gabrielle Orlando, a senior advertising major from Lilburn, GA, said, “I like the atmosphere of small coffee shops like Sips. I enjoy taking my laptop and sitting down with a muffin and a cup of coffee and getting stuff done. It’s relaxing and fun, and at Sips you can enjoy your afternoon without all the chaos of big chain coffee places.”
While you’re on Prince Avenue sitting at Sips Coffee Shop, you can look out the window to across the street and see another place that gets overlooked in Athens: Automatic Pizza. The pizza restaurant was formed from an old gas station, creating a rustic, very hipster-esque atmosphere. “The slices of pizza are New York style, and every college student loves giant slices of pizza for a good price,” said Mary McPartlan, a junior marketing major from Kennesaw, GA. Even if you’re not up for the drive to Automatic Pizza, never fear, because they deliver.
The last stop on this written tour is back to the homeland of UGA’s students: downtown. Most students on campus walk to and from downtown for their daily food cravings, which means some probably haven’t noticed the small restaurant sitting on the edge of downtown, next to Bel-Jean Copy Print, called Pouch. As their slogan promises, they truly do bring about “a new meaning of pie” with their variety of meat pies. This type of restaurant is found more frequently in other countries, so Pouch brought a little culture to Athens by dedicating a country to each pie based on the ingredients within the pie. Shea Nolan, a senior English major from Suwanee, GA, said, “After studying abroad in England, eating at Pouch was like a little piece of the UK here in Athens. The food is delicious, and the atmosphere is reminiscent of a British pub.”
This year instead of looking for brand new places that just opened, try giving old places a first-look. Often times, the best places to eat or grab a quick cup of coffee are the ones you’ve never heard about. Athens is filled with more restaurants and shops than there are students packed on an Orbit bus during class change; simply do some research, find an old place with great ratings, and make it new to you!
By Camren Skelton
A new year, a new beginning. A chance to start fresh, and hit the reset button on a season of overindulging. When it comes to a new year, setting a resolution is easy, but actually keeping it can be a daunting task. Add school into the mix, and finding time to keep up with your resolution can seem nearly impossible.
If you’ve made resolutions in the past but find yourself slowly slipping into old habits come February or March, you’re not alone. Each year, over 40 percent of Americans make a New Year’s resolution but only 8 percent actually achieve their goals, according to research by the University of Scranton.
This year, it’s time to get real about setting New Year’s resolutions. Instead of setting our sights on one intimidating leap, it’s time to focus on the small stepping stones that can have a long-term impact on health, happiness and overall well-being.
“This year I want to exercise more”
No matter what your goal is, keeping up with it doesn’t have to require a huge lifestyle change. By deciding to take a few small steps, your resolution can be more than one that is in one year and out the other.