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Emily James Unleashed: The Power of Dance

Senior Emily James from North Kingstown, Rhode Island believes in the power of dance. She thinks girls feel confident, sexy and unstoppable when they let loose.

Her passion for dance inspired her to organize an event on March 30 at Ziggy’s called “Unleashed,” where girls could dance alongside Dance Company members to popular songs in a nightclub setting. As a marketing major in the business school, one of her classes challenged her to start an initiative where she could combine the skills she has learned with her love for dance.

James (far left) and the 6 other dance instructors at “Unleashed.”  

James did this in spades. Planning the event completely from scratch, she organized the logo design and the the social media exposure, and spread the word about her event by visiting sorority and fraternity chapters.

Over 100 people attended the event and local organizations showed their support. During the first half hour, Tropical Smoothie Cafe gave out free samples, Francesca’s Collections donated jewelry, and restaurants downtown gave out gift cards. When it came time to break out the moves, six girls in the Dance Company instructed a dance class on stage.

James cites the business school as her biggest supporter, as they donated the funds to help her rent out the venue for the day.

The event’s success has inspired James to expand “Unleashed,” into a brand.

“I would love for it to be a sustainable class and get teams from other colleges to make it into a university-wide thing,” James said.

As a business-school student and artist, James was able to combine her two passions by planning this event and she hopes to be able to utilize the lessons she learned from “Unleashed” in her professional career. 

“This was the perfect way to merge the arts, dance and creativity with business,” James said. “It would be cool to turn this into a brand and I believe it could resonate with a lot of girls”

Emily’s experience in the dance world prompted her to tackle the importance of positive self-image. While she honed an intense passion for dance growing up, which pushed her to audition for “So You Think You Can Dance,” she saw the effects of maintaining a certain standard of physical perfection for the intense craft of dance.

“It’s a hard childhood sometimes when you have teachers who compare you to other girls,” James said. “To me, dance is supposed to be a way of expression and feeling good about yourself. Movement and dance is supposed to make you feel confident and I wanted other girls to feel that way.”

WFU students dancing at “Unleashed,” at Ziggy’s. 

When asked about what she felt girls took away from “Unleashed,” James feels confident that the message of her event resonated well with them.

“So many people showed up to the event and wanted it to happen every Sunday,” James said. “I think people did walk away feeling good about themselves because they had a great workout and great time with their girlfriends.”

As graduation approaches for this impressive senior, James is still deciding between pursuing a professional career with dance or taking the business route. She is grateful for her experience at Wake Forest, a place where she seamlessly participated in both worlds.

As a positive role model and key influence on this campus, James hopes she can leave her legacy by informing all women to be themselves in a world that may not always send that message.

“The advice I would give to girls is to not care about what others think of you,” James said. “Be yourself because I think confidence is the sexiest thing.”

True to form, we think James does a pretty good job of emulating that every day. 

*Article by Isabelle Basco

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