Flashettes hope to start dance legacy on campus


Flashettes captain Michaela Broadnax, sophomore, dances with Lacy Talley, junior, and Diamond Carroll, junior, in Centennial Court F lounge on Monday, March 20, 2017. 

McKenzie Jean-Philippe

After the Flashes’ loss last Friday to the University of California Los Angeles Bruins during the first round of the NCAA Tournament, to many at Kent State, basketball season came to an end. But to the eight members of the Flashettes dance team, March Madness is a time to plan ahead.

Formed in March 2016, the Flashettes are a relatively new group on campus. Though the Kent State cheerleading and dance teams have an established presence at football and basketball games, the Flashettes came to be after member Lacy Talley realized the university spirit program needed a change.

“Me and a couple friends — we went to one of the games — and it was, like, we saw a lack of diversity at the game, and we just wanted to improve that,” said Talley, a junior visual communication design major. “I feel like Kent State needs a group like this because it shows another population that isn’t represented.”

This past November marked the dance team’s premiere performance. Though the team is only a student organization — and not part of the university spirit program — they have danced at nearly every home women’s and men’s basketball game.

The Flashettes specialize in a type of dance they categorize as majorette; a style popular in historically black college and university dance teams across the country. 

Talley said what separates majorette dance from other styles is that routines are usually choreographed to music played by the band, which means dance teams typically perform in the stands alongside the band.

Movements also tend to be more stylized and sensual. Body rolls of the hips and shoulders, exaggerated arm movements and rhythm that’s hard to mimic are all key components of majorette dance.

Angelica White, senior business management major and team president, is eager to enhance the campus presence of the Flashettes. Along with Talley, White is one of the founding members of the team. She said the goal when creating the Flashettes was “to bring awareness to a different style of dancing (and) a different culture to a predominantly white institution.”

Although White doesn’t dance for the team herself, her interests not only lay in the culture, but from family history: Her mother was a majorette. White joined the Flashettes with the intent of carrying on that tradition at the university long after she graduates this May.

While basketball season is over, White is using the time to meet with the team to go over plans for next semester.

White organizes tryouts, uniform orders, team advertising and performances at games and other university events by communicating with the athletic department.

“In the beginning, honestly, I wanted to be a part of something at Kent State,” she said. “Something that could build a legacy at Kent.”

Casey Cegles, Kent State’s deputy athletic director, has followed the Flashettes’ progress since last semester’s homecoming parade when Shay Little, vice president for Student Affairs, pointed out the team’s talent.

“We’re always looking to diversify and be different,” Cegles said. “It’s important to bring all kinds of dance together and not just be as traditional as we’ve been in the past.”

Cegles explained that in order for a new team like the Flashettes to be part of the spirit program alongside cheer and dance, they would have to adopt the same stipulations that cheer and dance have.

Not only does the current spirit program attend gymnastics, soccer and volleyball events in addition to basketball and football games, but they fundraise on their own to be active in athletics. 

“It’s tough because technically our cheer and dance programs are part of the athletic department,” Cegles said. “We do provide some funding for them, but we don’t completely fund them. They are almost like a student group.”

Leading the Flashettes alongside White is captain Michaela Broadnax. Broadnax, a sophomore criminology and justice studies major, has danced for 17 years. Other members, like freshman accounting major Janae Blalock, have never danced before joining the Flashettes.

“I tried out originally because my friend asked me to come, but then I actually saw that I really liked the team, and I liked what they were doing so I wanted to stay,” Blalock said. “It was different because I’m used to action sports. I ran track and played soccer, so I’m used to stuff that’s hardcore, but I joined because … it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do that now I have the chance to.”

Other members have varied reasons for joining the Flashettes: Courtney Jones, junior early childhood education major, sees dance as a stress reliever; Tia Beaty, sophomore fashion merchandising major, turned her joy of partying into a passion for performing; and Diamond Carroll, junior human development and family studies major, loves being part of a team.

All the Flashette members do share one reason in common, however: Representation is key in the Kent State community. African-Americans are the second largest race represented at the university, though they are only 8 percent of the student body. Through dance, the Flashettes see the opportunity to share a part of the black culture with the rest of the community.

“We’re accepting of anybody and want everybody to be a part of (the team),” White said. “(We want) to create awareness and to create something where people can feel comfortable being here … for people whose culture isn’t as bright here. I think they can come here and feel a part of something as well as still feel incorporated within our school by performing at a game.”

McKenzie Jean-Philippe is the diversity editor, contact her at [email protected]