Cougars Take the Stage


Vincenzo Impresa and Emma Katzman smile on stage after winning Dancing with the Cougars.

Valerie Badger, Reporter

The presale of tickets for the first-ever “Dancing With the Cougars” started fast as students watched to watch their friends participate.  Held on March 31 in Lemmond Theater, the event featured judges President Dan Myers, Darcy Brodmerkel and Dominick De Matteo.

Hosts of the show were Class President Mary Johnstone and Activities Coordinator Emma Griffin. Contestants were in for a challenge to collect the highest score and impress the judges with their talents. 

Contestants included Madison Gross, a sophomore Diagnostic Medical Sonography student, and Nicholas Wilde, a junior Biology major on a Pre-Med track, who danced the Samba. 

Lauren Amend, a first-year Early Childhood Education student, and Sean Tadiello, a first-year Nursing major, danced a hip-hop/jazz routine. Samantha Piekutowski, a sophomore Nursing major, and Kyle Trapp, a Business Marketing major, danced a hip-hop routine. 

Emma Katzman, a third-year Occupational Therapy student, and Vincenzo Impresa, a sophomore Health Science major with a Medical Science specialization, danced to contemporary. Bre Smith, a senior medical imaging student, and Jacob Rose, a first-year Psychology student, danced a Lindy Hop routine.

Other contestants were Rayna Lymper, a first-year Early Childhood Education with Special Education major, and Regin Olson-Grey, a third-year Medical and Health Humanities major, who danced a musical theater routine.

Tia Baldwin, a sophomore in Medical Health and Humanities on a pre-med track, and Kobe Martin, a junior Mass Communications and Design student, danced the Jive. Makayla Kester, a first-year Medical Imaging student, and Jake Scherr, a third-year Medical Health and Humanities student, danced to a mash-up of songs from different shows. 

Finally, Jordan Bennett, a senior Psychology Child Mental Health specialization major, and George Manzoni, a first-year Nursing Major, danced a disco routine.

The audience was full as athletes from the men’s soccer team and the swim team were in attendance to support their teammates in the competition. The Class of 2024 held a raffle for the chance to win two free tickets to watch the show.

With one member of each team being a member of the Misericordia Dance Team, anything was fair game and nobody knew what to expect as the first couple walked out on stage. While some dances were better prepared, everyone did their best and had a great time competing.

“Once I got to the theater, I got pretty nervous, but as soon as I got onstage and heard my teammates screaming, I calmed down,” said Trapp, a member of the men’s soccer team.

Lights shined directly into the contestants’ faces on stage, making it difficult for them to see the audience, but easing their nerves when it was time to perform.

At the end of each dance, the judges rated the performance and shared their thoughts. In the end, the scores were tallied and the winner was announced. 

Winners of this year’s competition were Vincenzo Impresa and Emma Katzman with their contemporary performance of Zach Bryan’s “Something in the Orange.”

 “I was happy we were closer to the end,” Impresa said. “We heard the other critiques and they were harsh. It was nice to not get those critiques. When we got Dan’s 9.9, I was very shocked. I thought the act before us would win.”

Each dance team was supportive of the other acts and thought each act had something special to bring to the stage but Amend shared her experience on what she thought of her own dance.

“I was very pleased with our performance; it made all the hard work and time we spent on it worth it,” she said. “I thought I got lucky with my partner Sean because he was really into dance and open to trying new things. Overall, I thought he and I killed it on stage and the audience seemed to enjoy it.” 

With contestants lining the stage at the end and Impresa and Katzman announced the winners, they earned two trophies to display at home. 

“I was filled with excitement,” Impresa said. “It was a rough week with exams, so it was nice to do something and have it amount to something. It was cool to take on the trophy and I was happy for Emma. She did a good amount to deserve it.” 

With contestants getting inspiration from everywhere and some being more comfortable on stage than others, the show was a way for students to have fun and break out of their comfort zone.

 “I was overly pleased with the result of my dance!” Katzman said. “My partner Vin and I had many rehearsals to practice our dance and I am so proud of all our hard work. I would like to thank Vin for not only working around my crazy schedule, but also being open and willing to any dance move that I threw at him.”