Dance team welcomes male dancer, the team’s first

Sophomore+dance+team+member%2C+Liam+Rogers+dances+at+his+first+football+game+on+Thursday%2C+August+30+at+the+Kent+State+vs.+Towson+football+game.+Rogers+is+the+first+male+member+of+the+Kent+State+dance+team.+Photo+courtesy+of+the+Record-Courier.

Sophomore dance team member, Liam Rogers dances at his first football game on Thursday, August 30 at the Kent State vs. Towson football game. Rogers is the first male member of the Kent State dance team. Photo courtesy of the Record-Courier.

Kirsten Bowers

This isn’t the first time Liam Rogers is the only male dancer on a dance team. He was the only boy on a team of 50 to 60 girls for his very first performance.

“It was a jazz performance to ‘Proud Mary’ by Tina Turner,” Rogers said, smiling at the memory. “I still have the tape.”

Rogers, a sophomore geography major, became the first male dancer to make the Kent State dance team in its more than 20-year history.

Kent State Athletics’ website describes the dance team as a “female organization,” but some changes will have to be made.

“It’s awesome to add a new component to the team,” said assistant coach Whitney Cleland. She said it doesn’t matter what gender he identifies with; only his ability as a dancer is a factor.

Rogers’ teammate, junior biology major Cara Alflen, said she’s thrilled about Liam being a part of the team.

“It gives a unique factor to our team. It makes us better in a way; it makes us stand out,” Alflen said. “Hopefully other guys will see Liam on the team and be like, ‘Oh, I can do that too,’ so we can build a bigger, stronger team.”

Rogers, a 19-year-old Kent native, auditioned for the team for the second time in April. After tryouts, Rogers became the one man on a team of 16 dancers.

He decided to try out when he saw the dance team perform during the halftime show of a basketball game.

“I said to myself, ‘I really want to be a part of that and push myself,’” Rogers said.

In Spring 2011, as a freshman, Rogers auditioned for the dance team but didn’t make the cut. Rogers was determined to improve and make the team in 2012.

For the next year, he stretched and strengthened at the gym about four days a week. He also paid to participate in several dance conventions and workshops in Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

Rogers said his hard work paid off when he made the team. He still practices about 11 to 12 hours a week.

Rogers began dancing at age 12.

After his “Proud Mary” performance, the head of the studio approached Rogers about joining the competition team the next year. He did as a seventh-grader and began competitive dancing.

“In middle school and high school, it wasn’t what you typically saw,” Rogers said about his dancing. “Most boys play sports.”

Rogers said most people have been supportive of his dancing at Kent State, but it hasn’t always been that way.

“I endured some teasing, of course,” Rogers said. “But I didn’t let it stop me.”

Rogers was to make his debut performance with the dance team Thursday between the third and fourth quarters of the football game.

Contact Kirsten Bowers at [email protected].