Greek life raises money through song and dance

Members of the sorority Delta Delta Delta and the fraternities Zeta Beta Tau, FIJI and Sigma Phi Epsilon finish their scavenger hunt sleepover-themed performance at Friday night’s Greek Sing. (Photo by Chiara Rigaud | Staff Photographer)

Several Greek Life organizations went on trips Friday night — three went to Havana, Cuba, while another three traveled to Emerald City. Two wound up trapped in a video game.

All of this happened on stage at the Fitzgerald Field House Friday night. Eleven different teams consisting of a mix of fraternities and sororities put on 10- to 12-minute dance routines with one or two song numbers. The event was part of Greek Week, a week of academic challenges, blood drives and other events meant to encourage bonding between different Greek organizations at Pitt and raise money for charity.

Each team wore costumes and told a story in line with their routine’s theme, ranging from Phi Sigma Rho and Pi Kappa Alpha’s “Game Over” to Delta Phi Epsilon, Pi Lambda Phi and Delta Sigma Phi’s “A Night in Havana.” Teams danced to mixes consisting of modern pop, classic rock and other genres.

Pitt students got in for free, but anyone else paid $20. All 2,700 seats in the Field House were filled that night — organizers ended up having to turn people away at the door.

The Children’s Miracle Network program of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation will receive the earnings from this event as part of the $500,000 pledge the Interfraternity Council and the National Panhellenic Conference made to the organization.

Members of the sorority Delta Delta Delta and the fraternities Zeta Beta Tau, FIJI and Sigma Phi Epsilon took first place in the event for their performance, “Sleepover.” The routine kicked off with Tri Delta members deciding to invite the fraternity members on a scavenger hunt while at a sleepover, kicking their feet and twirling to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.”

Prior to the start of the show, senior rehab science major Becky Torres and several other members of Tri Delta practiced their routine by the bleachers, counting their steps and bobbing their heads to imaginary music. The young women were all clad in light blue pajama shorts and shirts — their male counterparts were dressed in checkered pajama pants and black shirts.

Torres said the group, like many others competing in Greek Sing, had been practicing their routine since January, putting in several hours of practice every week — three and a half each day starting a week before the performance. Most of the men did not have dance experience, but Torres said they managed to get “cleaned up.”

“This is my last year doing this, so I’m feeling nostalgic,” Torres, who competed her first year and sophomore year in the competition, said. “I feel confident about our chances, but no matter what happens I’m glad with what we produced.”

After the team finished their performance, they emerged from backstage sweaty and smiling. Rachel Tuschak, a senior rehab science major and chair of the team, said she thought the team’s performance went well and they all had fun. Tuschak had overseen much of the music and choreography for the routine.

“I’ve had very little sleep in the past three months,” she said. “I’d get an idea in the middle of the night.”

Joe Kitching, a junior marketing major and member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, sang for the “Sleepover” performance. He used to be in marching band and sing in rock bands in high school and said he figured he’d try dancing as well, leading him to join Greek Sing for the first time.

“I’ve 100 percent improved since we started, my repertoire of moves has expanded,” he said after his performance. “So much time and effort was put into this, and I’m exhausted.”

Kappa Kappa Gamma, Alpha Tau Omega and Sigma Alpha Epsilon were the third team to perform that night and ended up taking second place. Fraternity members wore blue shorts with red suspenders, and sorority members had their hair in braids and wore blue skirts like the character Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz — the tale their routine was based on.

The dancers swiveled their hips, sashayed, stomped their feet and did backflips to songs such as “Roar” and “I Would Walk 500 Miles” while traveling to the Emerald City. A sorority member came out clad in a Tin Man-inspired costume to sing a duet with a fraternity member halfway through.

Stephanie Longarello, a senior communication science major, Kappa Kappa Gamma member and chair of the team, said they were inspired to do a Wizard of Oz-themed routine when they found a Jungle Book-inspired dance by a Greek Sing team from another university online.

“We had meetings where we decided what songs fit different parts of the storyline and went from there,” she said. “We also tried to play to people’s strengths and highlight different areas of dance throughout.”

Dean Kenyon Bonner was present at the event, serving as a judge alongside Nicolette Bendick, a Pitt alum and cheerleading coach at Mount Lebanon High School, Teisha Duncan, an actress, teacher and director, Kiera Librera, a graduate intern in the Office of Fraternity and Sorority life and sister of Alpha Phi, and Cameron Boyd, a hip-hop instructor and member of the KG Dynasty Muvmint Company.

Bonner said the judges were given criteria to consider, including creativity, originality and vocals. He had been to several Greek Sings before, but this was his first time judging.

“There’s lots of energy, I can tell the teams put a lot of time in,” he said. “I’m impressed by the creativity.”

Laura Angeles came to Greek Sing in support of her sorority Theta Alpha Phi, which performed a a routine inspired by the game Clue alongside Sigma Alpha Mu, Sigma Beta Rho, Phi Beta Sigma, Sigma Gamma Rho and Triangle. She said she was impressed by all the performances on stage, but favored her own sorority’s performance, which featured dancers modeled after the board game’s characters somersaulting and swaying to songs such as “Side to Side.”

“They were really good, and I think their originality shows,” she said.

After the hosts of the evening, Amanda Rivera and Connor Walsh, announced the winners, there was shock and grumbling from some members of the audience and cheers and tears from others.

Kieran Zajac, a senior communications major, started crying when it was announced her team had won first place. This was the Tri Delta member’s third year competing in Greek Sing, but the first time her group had won.

“I am so overwhelmed, I’m shocked,” she said. “We had a fun year, and I’m proud of all the work we put into this.”

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