Dance, Stomp, Shake to take Kuss Auditorium by storm

Dance, Stomp, Shake is back for its third year, and it has become a sought-after dance competition for regional teams.

“What Dance, Stomp, Shake tries to do is to broaden our reach in terms of diversity of the creative experience, and we want to raise the bar to the point of excellence and elegance because we value the art of dance and music, and we also owe it to our community to give them the absolute best,” says Wittenberg University Professor Dr. Julius Bailey, who is the founder of Dance, Stomp, Shake.

When Dance, Stomp, Shake first launched as an event in Springfield, it was at the request of some Wittenberg students who had seen a Step Africa show on campus and hoped for more local dance shows, Bailey says.

They took their idea to Bailey, who led the charge on organizing and launching the event. Performers took the stage in front of the sold-out John Legend Theater audience in February 2020.

Bailey says the huge success garnered the attention of the City of Springfield and ignited a dream of planning for an even bigger, better event the following year. But, the COVID-19 pandemic had other ideas, causing Dance, Stomp, Shake to be on hiatus until 2022.

Planning began in the fall of 2021, and Bailey says, “At this point, the hunger and thirst for it was out there.”

Knowing the event had outgrown the 600-seat John Legend Theater, Bailey went big and transitioned to the Clark State Performing Arts Center’s Kuss Auditorium. The event brought 12 teams and sold out all 1,350 tickets.

Bailey says that as last year’s event took off and planning began for this year, he knew he wanted Dance, Stomp, Shake to showcase not only dance participants but also everything Springfield has to offer as a destination.

“It is a competition for coaches, but it’s also a showcase for our city and our area, so what we’re trying to do is to bring the best-possible talent to Springfield,” says Bailey, who is a Wittenberg professor of philosophy and the chair of philosophy and religion. “The teams are coming for the prize, but the audience is coming for the talent.

“When it comes down to programming, and in this case diversity, I want to highlight the best of what diverse programming looks like and the best of what diverse arts look like.”

This year’s event includes multiple days of activities leading up to the full Dance, Stomp, Shake performance that begins at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19.

To help involve more local artists This year’s event kicks off Thursday, Feb. 16, with Art That Binds: A Youth Art Showcase from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at the Springfield Museum of Art (SMoA).

The free event leads into the weekend and features live music, written pieces and visual arts by Springfield City School District middle school students, the Springfield Youth Orchestra members, and Wittenberg students.

“We want to embrace the idea of youth and talent,” says Amy Korpieski, museum educator for the SMoA. “This part is wide open to the community with free admission, and the galleries will be open for everyone to enjoy.”

Korpieski says art provides a neutral ground for taking on connections in the community and the museum provides a space where everyone knows their opinion matters, so they are happy to be a partner for the kick-off.

“Our idea of being a community partner is where our thinking is community focused and geared toward the greater good of Springfield, and that’s in line with the museum’s set of values and our real commitment to diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion, and in our commitment to creativity and art,” she says.

In mid-2022, Dance, Stomp, Shake became a registered 501c3 non-profit organization with a goal of organizing about four events each year. Bailey says the organization describes itself as “art-based” so it can branch out into other art forms in addition to dance.

Continuing into the weekend, the 2023 event includes the addition of a Saturday, Feb. 18, workshop with returning show headliners Elevated – a Cleveland-based hip hop dance company that won first place on the NBC World of Dance competition show.

Local dancers will take a four-hour workshop with the company and some will get to perform on stage with Elevated during the Sunday show, Bailey says. Dancers can register for the workshop here.

Because of the growing event and need for additional space for all the performers, this year’s Sunday activities have a new addition of The Dancer Zone, which will be open from noon to 3 p.m. in the Hollenbeck Bailey Conference Center.

“It will be a great place for all the dancers to be,” Bailey says. “All the dancers will be there, a DJ, local teams, and we’ve created this big expo of dancers and positive energy leading into the show.”

The space will also include food and vendors, he says.

At 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19, Kuss Auditorium doors will open for Dance Stomp Shake, which will kick-off at 3:30 with a “big opening number” designed by Springfield's Behind the Curtain Dance Studio that will include various forms of dance, such as jazz, ballet and tumbling, Bailey says.

Dayton radio personalities Faith Daniels and Kev Nash will host the event, and Springfield High School homecoming queen and cheer captain Janell will be the co-host.

The three-hour show will include 14 teams featuring creative, break, majorette, a jr/sr division, a mini (youth) division, and more. It will close with advanced hip hop and the performance from Elevated. Teams competing are from across Ohio and from four other states – Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.

Bailey recommends getting tickets as soon as possible because the show has sold out in past years. Tickets can be purchased here.

Bailey says it is important to him to do what he can for the community as an engaged citizen. He emphasized the importance of doing what’s best for not only the growth of this event, but also for community-wide development.

“If we’re going to move Springfield forward, and we’re going o be inclusive across all five zip codes, then we need to make sure that a show like this can be at a facility like the Kuss, and that everyone can see it at that level,” Bailey says. “We merge talent with space, and we meet and exceed the expectations Clark State has for their facility and this level of theater.

“I want to bring out the best of who we are so that we can show that we are 'The Champion City.' So, I want to bring champion-level talent to our city on an annual basis.”

Read more articles by Natalie Driscoll.