Students passing through the Ferris State University campus quad at noon on Wednesday, March 31 stopped short in surprise when several of their classmates unexpectedly dropped their coats and backpacks to dance in formation as a flash mob.
The Carillon Tower’s 12 p.m. bells rang out through a burst of popular music from the speakers of a nearby disc jockey’s booth, and the dancers revealed their T-shirts advertising Ferris’ April 15 Dance Marathon to benefit the Muskegon organization No More Sidelines, which is dedicated to helping young persons with disabilities participate in sports and community events. Event coordinators and flash mob participants hope that their antics will encourage others to come out to the University Recreation Center for the marathon and dance for this cause.
“Students can make this project a success by attending the Dance Marathon,” said Liala Al-Shatel, event coordinator and junior in the Pre-Medicine concentration of Ferris’ Applied Biology program. “Our attendance goal is to get 200 people at the UREC.” She and Pre-Medicine sophomore Jack Swan have been hard at work, securing sponsorships from local businesses, promoting the event and planning 15 hours’ worth of dynamic entertainment.
The event will feature DJ services by popular Bulldog Radio student hosts Melissa DiVietri and Shannon Ramso. DiVietri, a sophomore in the New Media and Print Management program, has also provided promotional assistance for the Dance Marathon and explained that student coordinators hope that the event will become an annual fundraiser for No More Sidelines.
The Muskegon charity organizes and provides athletic gear for seasonal basketball, track and field, soccer, softball and bowling leagues. Its services are offered at no charge to youths eight years of age and older who have intellectual or physical disabilities. The group also offers social outings such as camp and movie trips that are intended, like the sports leagues, to boost young participants’ confidence and social skills.
“I volunteered with No More Sidelines two summers ago in my hometown and fell in love with their organization. They’re so completely committed to the children that they work with,” Al-Shatel explained. The organization and its efforts have inspired similar reactions throughout the Ferris community, with the sponsorship of the Diversity and Inclusion Office, Residence Hall Association and Clark Hall. The event has also drawn support from a diverse group of students who have come together around its cause.
“More students are becoming aware of the motivating purpose of this event and growing excited for the first annual dance marathon at FSU,” DiVietri said. “I’m so proud of the amount of active student participation.”
The impact of flash mobs is based largely on their apparent spontaneity and the surprise they present to viewers. Rehearsed briefly (if at all,) the trendy displays are often coordinated online via e-mail and social media outlets. They originated as forms of recreation and performance art early in the last decade and have since been organized to raise awareness for charitable concerns, as well.
The Ferris State Dance Marathon kicks off April 15 at 8 p.m. in the University Recreation Center. It is open to the public, and admission costs $5 per person or $50 per team. For more information and video of the flash mob, visit the links below.