Renaissance Ball celebrates rebirth, talent

Christina Stavale

Miranda Monroe performs a spoken word piece during the talent portion of the Renaissance Ball last night. LESLIE L. CUSANO | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors


Cameras flashed and music played as women in ball gowns and men wearing suits and top hats entered the Student Center Ballroom last night.

Decorative masks and red carpet lined the room, and backstage, pageant contestants completed the finishing touches to their looks, while others rehearsed their dance a final time.

“It’s an elegant way for African Americans to come together to showcase what we have,” said Adrian Neal, Black United Students public relations chair.

Hosted by BUS, last night’s 38th annual Renaissance Ball, themed “A Masquerade Ball,” drew nearly a full house.

“When you think of the word ‘Renaissance,’ you think of a number of things,” said BUS President Sasha Parker as guests took their seats. “One of the biggest things you probably think of is rebirth.”

She then introduced the 11 pageant contestants hoping to be crowned King and Queen. The contestants showcased their formal wear and talents, as well as performed a group dance.

For Valencia Flannigan, freshman early childhood education major, the pageant was a chance to overcome her shyness.

“I want to let all the shy people know they can do all they want to do,” she said.

And as she sang her first notes of the song “Killing Me Softly” for the talent portion of her act, the crowd clapped along and danced in their seats.

The pageant contest was a culmination of months of work for the contestants. They began by going through an interview process and then practiced four days a week.

“The Renaissance Ball took over my life last month,” said freshman marketing major Justin Strongoli, who performed an original piano composition for the talent portion and was crowned prince.

Pageant contestant Shanetta Dorsey said she enjoyed the way people were able to come together at the event.

“I like being on-stage and performing,” the freshman fashion design major said. “If I don’t win, at least I’ve done my best.”

Freshman exploratory major JaRel Clay was crowned king and Ashleigh Newberry, freshman political science and Spanish major, was crowned queen.

“I’m really surprised and I’m really frazzled,” said Newberry about being crowned queen.

Her lifelong friend, freshman theater major Danea Rhodes, was crowned princess. “We’ve been friends since kindergarden, and I think it shows that a friendship can last.”

Clay said he sees his crowning as an opportunity to be a positive influence for others on campus.

“I feel that because I got it,” he said, “I should act as a role model for the rest of the African American males on campus.”

Parker said the Renaissance Ball was once a Homecoming event for black students, but it evolved into a celebration of the rebirth of students’ talents and achievements. She said she was pleased with this year’s turnout.

“It’s one of the better turnouts, especially for a Monday,” she said.

Contact minority affairs reporter Christina Stavale at [email protected]. News correspondent Nicole Stempak also contributed to this story.