By Andrea Butcher
Cheerleading. One of the most popular sports for high school to college aged females. It is a fun combination of chants, jumps, stunts, and tumbling. Cheerleading can be found on college campuses around the nation and around the world. But it can not be found on the campus of Cumberland County College. There are many sports on campus, but cheerleading is certainly not one of the them. We have a step team. But step team is not cheer. They are two very different sports. Despite all of that, CCC is trying to rectify the issue they are working on combining step team with a cheer team.
The first step has already been taken. The ladies of the Divine Dukes, the college’s step team, have already received cheer uniforms. They received the whole nine yards: the top, the skirt, the undershirt, the socks, and the sneakers. To top it all off, the ladies even received pom poms. The Divine Dukes are proud of what they do and appreciate the idea of a cheer team. They just want people to know what step team is and how it differs from cheerleading.
When interviewing the Divine Dukes, the ladies defined step team is a type of dance in which they use their entire body as an instrument to create complex sounds with steps, claps, and words. Step differs from cheer in a few ways. Step is overall sharper in movement than cheer. While you need to be quite athletic for both sports, one would need slightly more muscle strength in their calves and arms for step. Also the ladies of the step team define themselves as more “down to earth and relaxed” than an average cheerleader.
The step team has a few opinions about the incorporation of the teams. Change is hard to deal with but not for the Divine Dukes. They are actually quite comfortable with the change, but do have one condition. They are fine with having the two teams put together, but they would like the combined team to “be considered a college sport with a budget from the athletic department”. However, they are aware that they may not receive that condition. Staying a club would mean that the Divine Dukes will not receive athletic recognition nor will they get a budget from the athletic department.
So Cumberland County College, you are commended on your efforts in bringing in a cheer team. Combining the step team with a cheer team is the first step in the right direction. If the school continues to build on this idea, a larger draw for the team will come in the future. It will continue to grow and become an entity that the college can be proud of. But for now, let’s support the current ladies of the Divine Dukes and help the change settle in.
By Mike Guilford
Since 1995, the Frank Guaracini Fine and Performing Arts Center has entertained the community with dazzling shows in its mission to bring quality performances to Cumberland.
At the end of August 2017, that mission could be in jeopardy as non-academic performances for the 2017-2018 year have been placed on indefinite hiatus. The future for the Luciano Theater is unknown.
All is not lost, Deborah Bradshaw’s stellar sellout offerings will continue as academic programming would not be impacted. Scheduled for a November debut, Bradshaw’s production of Godspell is sure to dazzle audiences, with its messages of kindness, love and peace and a parade of hits like “Day by Day” and “Learn Your Lessons Well.”
However, she will do so without support of Assistant Director of Theater Programming, Christopher Totora, who served as Technical Director since 2004. Totora will continue his career as Technical Director at the Mandell Theater in Philadelphia. The decision to place future programs on hiatus was made in conjunction with Totora’s departure by campus administrators, however, the program has been in jeopardy for several years now as programming failed to make a profit. Continual decline in enrollment, annual shortfalls in budget for the performing arts, lack of awareness; the program was already primed for the chopping block. Running a skeleton crew of volunteers and part-time staff the program was left with no fat to trim to stay afloat, despite departures from the box office manager and Totora.
Things have changed since the program’s inception 20 years ago. Competition from renovated theaters such as the Levoy in Millville, 8 miles from the Luciano, as well as the renewal of Landis Theater in downtown Vineland act as stiff competition for a theater situated almost equidistant from two rivals.
Also, down the road from the Luciano Theater, is the Cumberland Players, within a short 10 mile radius of the Luciano theater are three competitors vying for limited patron’s attention with similar content.
In a perfect world, an oversaturation of the arts would be seen as a boon and business would be booming, unfortunately things don’t always work out the way they should. As theater managers at Luciano reported difficulty even giving tickets away to patrons.
It’s tough to point toward a single cause for the discontinuation of programming but the lack of public interest could point toward one culprit: limited marketing.
Given limited amount of public attendance and the success of other programs in the area, it would be reasonable to speculate that awareness of the programs existence was limited at best.
The original mission of the theater was to attract people with quality programming who wouldn’t normally visit. Volunteers, working for the theater act as advocates, bringing visitors to campus promoting CCC.
Children were bussed in frequently from schools to experience the wonder of theater. Director of theater programming at the Luciano Theater, Beatrice Hughes, remarked on the impressions of children coming to the theater for the first time; “The doors opened and their expressions were just WOW! before the show even began.”
Hughes mentions how she will miss seeing their cute faces on campus. The program was a great tool to attract younger generations of students to CCC. It showed what they’d have available as they grew, promoting college accessibility through the arts.
The college plans to reevaluate the future of the FPAC program during the 2017-2018 year, to see if there is a new direction it could take.
Without private funders to help buttress the program; as other theater programs in the county have access to, it may be difficult for the college to shoulder the burden of operating the theater alone, leaving the future of the College’s theater program unknown.