‘We represent a minority at WSU, and we represent the rainbow’

Kau`i Marley Samio uses Tahitian influences, wins first prize trophy in the Cougar Dance Competition; celebrates diversity



Hannah Levy, a clinical psychology graduate student, performs a contemporary style dance that highlights the impact of athletics on mental health on Friday night, at the CUB Auditorium.

MADYSEN MCLAIN, Evergreen roots editor

The crowd in the CUB Auditorium erupted into applause when the emcee for the night announced the winner of the first Cougar Dance Competition on Thursday night.

Kau`i Marley Samio, WSU freshman, said she did not expect to win first place.

“I danced for every group of indigenous people so they won’t be afraid of representing their people,” she said.

A total of 12 groups of competitors performed during the competition and received feedback from three professional dancers who acted as judges for the night. The event was sponsored by the Student Entertainment Board and University Recreation.

Samio channeled her Tahitian culture during her two-minute slot. All three judges commended Samio for her energy throughout the performance and for bringing culture into the competition. 

She will receive $500 for taking first place. Samio will also perform for various events throughout the year, such as Mom’s Weekend and at football games.

Another competitor taking the stage on Thursday was Krimson Kouture, a WSU hip-hop dance team. The group performed for the first time this year, with each member wearing a different color shirt. 

“We represent a minority at WSU, and we represent the rainbow,” said WSU sophomore Promise Calloway when emcee Joseph Martin asked about the significance of the T-shirts.

Krimson Kouture, the only multi-member team to perform, started to practice in August, Calloway said.

“Once the tempo changed, you were in your zone,” Judge Cesar Valentino said

Other competitors used different styles of dance to show their artistic ability. One competitor combined lip-syncing and vogue-style dance. Drag queen #Objective said she has been performing drag for three years.

“I’ve lost every time,” #Objective said. “But I enjoy drag.”

One performer used her platform to make a social statement. Hannah Levy, WSU clinical psychology graduate student, went on stage to advocate for mental health issues in student-athletes. Rather than having traditional music, Levy chose to use voice clips from coaches and student-athletes talking about mental health. Levy said she rowed for nine years and knows what it is like as an athlete.

“I had coaches, even a nutritionist, but not anyone for mental health,” she said.

Other competitors performed in freestyle, contemporary and more. The judges scored four elements: technical, stage presence, execution and choreography. 

“You get nervous,” Judge Nkeiruka said. “You want to pee 10 times before you get on stage.”