FAMU’s Strikers had a sendoff party Tuesday in honor of an invititation to New York to appear on BET’s “106 and Park” on Wednesday.
The group also journeyed to take part in the International Association of Blacks in Dance Conference from Jan. 19-22.
Every Wednesday, “106 and Park” airs a segment they call “Wildout Wednesday” in which rappers, singers, comedians and dancers perform and compete against several others in the same category.
“We sent out a video. Soon after the producer called us,” Strikers founder Shepiro Hardemon said. “As far as the IABD, after our promotional DVD was seen, we were invited by the host and coordinator, Ron Brown.”
As a part of the competition, there were plenty of rules to follow in order for the performance to be successful and to avoid disqualification.
“The music that we used couldn’t be (sped up or slowed down) and the song had to be one that was currently a part of the show’s countdown,” Hardemon said. “Even the number of guys that were allowed to dance onstage was scaled down – eight guys actually danced, but 19 traveled.”
Left with the decision of picking who would dance in the competition, he selected the people who were best suited for the choreography, judging by showmanship, chemistry and precision.
“We take this seriously because it’s our passion. The guys have been working really hard while balancing jobs and school, and still have such a high level of energy and endurance,” Hardemon said.
The sendoff was organized by student government and coordinated by Secretary of State Kumasi Aaron, who was elated to celebrate and help plan such an event.
“I feel like the Strikers are such a wonderful representation of our university and anything we can do to help them or the university, we should do it,” said Aaron, a 21-year-old Sebring native.
The Strikers were quick to admit that Hardemon acts as the glue that keeps the group together.
Herold Macajoux, a junior economics student, shared his sentiments as well.
“Our artistic director does research on ways to promote the group through performances, he spearheads the group, keeps the group progressive, and keeps us unified,” Macajoux said.
Parnell Williams, the current president of the Strikers, as well as a junior criminal justice student, was pretty excited to be taking part in the celebration, but seemed anxious about the performance.
“Although we’ve been practicing day and night, I am curious to see how the audience will respond to us because we feed off the crowd’s energy and use that to take it to the next level,” Williams said.
One of the biggest obstacles the Strikers had to overcome was expenses.
With the help of SGA and Mahogany Dance Theatre, along with the support of Striker graduates and greek organizations, they were able to make it there.
President and Vice President of Mahogany, the sister organization of the Strikers, Melissa Alphonse, 21, a junior social work student and Darra Demps, 19, a sophomore English studies student went from door-to-door to help gather donations.
“This appearance on ‘106 & Park’ will give us an opportunity to provide positive exposure to our University and display dance as a fine art,” said Cyrah Hawkins, a junior criminal justice student and former president of Strikers.
Many Rattlers were in attendance at the going away party to support the Strikers.
Brandon Flowers, a native of Vero Beach, and cardiopulmonary science student was at the event.
“I want to help send them off as they embark upon their journey,” said the 18-year-old freshman.
“I just came to give them my support,” said Chante Sessomes, an 18-year-old Baltimore native and fifth-year MBA student. “They represent us and will be the ones that help our school get recognition.”
The Strikers were founded by Hardemon on Feb. 25, 1989.
He said the purpose of his organization is to unite and uplift brotherhood to black males while promoting self-confidence and a positive image through dance and comedy routines.
Contact Yewande Addie at firstname.lastname@example.org