Orchesis dancer transitions to cheerleading

Senior Rachel Moten is well known on campus for her dancing talents. Courtesy photo

The Orchesis Dance Company is one of the most competitive and thrilling extra curricular activitiesat Grambling State University.

Company members are expected to train five to seven days a week practicing different techniques and styles of dance. Being able to execute a field show or any other performance requires time, discipline and dedication.

Rachel Moten is a senior from Las Vegas who trained strenuously with the Orchesis for three years.

Although Moten majors in visual and performing arts, dance and business marketing, she intentionally allocated time to dance under Dianne Maroney-Grisby, the Orchesis dance company director.

Despite the fact that today she is now a cheerleader for the university, The Orchesis Dance Company is what motivated her to attend Grambling.

“As a freshman, I had high aspirations to eventually become a member of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; and Mrs. Maroney-Grigsby was once their principal dancer and soloist for the legendary African American dance company in New York City,” she said. “Additionally, I also wanted to follow in my mother’s footsteps and become an Orchesis.”

    Moten spent her freshman, sophomore and junior years perfecting her craft. Spectators see the finished product which is the field show and fall in love with every performance.

Very few understand it takes more than a couple rehearsals to put together a cohesive group of high energized dancers.

“We danced seven days per week, including Sundays depending on extra rehearsals needed for  performances,” Moten said. “Monday through Thursday, we we’re in the dance studio from 4 p.m. to 9 or 10 p.m.”

Moten said for dancers are to be a “field girl” for the week they normally would have weekly tryouts per game on Wednesdays.

“On Fridays, field girls practiced in the stadium and parking lot of PAC with the band from 12-7 p.m.; then we’d meet in “the cage” at the AC and pack uniforms for Saturday’s game,” she said. 

Trading time and effort is worth the battle if dancing truly brings you joy and fulfillment. 

In the end, Moten felt that the pros didn’t outweigh the cons. She liked the publicity and being a role model to future HBCU dancers, but the long practices, limited stipends, and the company being financially independent took a toll on her.

Interestingly enough, Moten actually planned transition to becoming a cheerleader all along.

“As a freshman, I pre-organized my college career and planned to cheer during my senior year,” she said. 

“I wanted more leisure time to live my best life, stress-free while remaining involved on campus. I knew that their schedule was entirely more flexible,” she said. “I also wanted to explore my other talents than limit myself to just dance for all four years of college.”  

Moten had previous cheer experience throughout her childhood and was captain her senior year in high school. Before training in dance, she was a level nine USA gymnast. Tumbling is her favorite part of cheering for the university.

Moten agrees that the overall environment of the cheer team is more friendly and supportive. 

“Cheer practices are shorter; straight to the point, ‘one and done;’ and run with an expected routine – condition, tumble, stunt, pyramids, done!” Moten said. “The coaches have empathy that we’re athletes who are in school too, so they focus on both cheer and academics.

“Contrary to dance, cheerleaders aren’t required to pay out-of-pocket for anything because everything is provided, including shoes and necessities for travel – attire, bags, etc.. Both cheer and dance have weekly tryouts or cuts for games; but cheer isn’t as competitive or stressful.” 

Moten has also taken advantage of the little free time she has had in between class, dance and cheer over the years.

She is a member of Earl Lester Cole Honors College, the National Society of Leadership and Success, Pi Gamma Mu (Honorary), Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

Moten held the title of Miss October and Miss Swimsuit 2017-2018 in the 49th Annual Miss Calendar Girl Scholarship.

She currently serves as Miss Earl Lester Cole Honors Ruby 2019-2020.Moten is satisfied with her decision and is relieved that she has more time to accomplish more of her goals on campus.