3rd 'Next Dance' on UI homecoming weekend

CHAMPAIGN – The third annual "Next Dance" celebrating the University of Illinois' retired Chief Illiniwek will take place on UI homecoming weekend.

The event, sponsored by the group Students for Chief Illiniwek, will be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 23 at the Assembly Hall, following the Illini football game against Indiana. Doors will open at 5 p.m.

The event will be shorter than in past years – an hour or less – with fewer speakers and more focus on the Chief's dance, said Samantha Uher, a UI junior and president of Students for Chief Illiniwek.

Ivan Dozier of Ivesdale, a UI sophomore, will perform the Chief's dance. He was chosen in auditions held last spring by Students for Chief Illiniwek.

The event is not sanctioned by the UI, but groups are free to use the Assembly Hall.

The inaugural event in 2008 drew about 10,000 spectators, but attendance dropped off dramatically last year. Students complained that administrators had forced them to reschedule the event from homecoming weekend to Oct. 2, a Friday night, which hurt attendance by alumni. However, it was still a football weekend and coincided with the UI Foundation's annual meeting, when hundreds of donors and alumni visit campus.

In e-mails made public through student Freedom of Information Act requests, administrators made disparaging remarks about Chief supporters and discussed trying to move the event away from Foundation weekend, too. Chancellor Richard Herman eventually vetoed that idea, citing free-speech concerns.

This year, students put in their request in May and it was approved in June without incident, Uher said.

Both "Next Dance" events have drawn protests from critics of Chief Illiniwek, who consider it a racist stereotype and campaigned against it for more than a decade.

Under pressure from the NCAA, UI trustees voted in March 2007 to retire the Chief and stop using Native American images. The Chief's last official performance was at a men's basketball game Feb. 21, 2007.

The last class of students to see the official Chief perform graduated last May. But Uher said Students for Chief Illiniwek has seen an increase in membership this fall and lots of interest from freshman and sophomores, so she's hopeful attendance will rebound.

Tickets for the "Next Dance" are available through the Assembly Hall box office or, beginning Tuesday, at http://www.ticketmaster.com. Admission is $5 for the general public and free for students with an I-card or children ages 12 and under. More details can be found at http://www.studentsforchief.com.

Alumni interested in joining a student band for the "Three-in-One" can e-mail studentsforchief@gmail.com.

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spangwurfelt wrote on September 27, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Why not have it on Halloween? Night of the Living Dead Mascot!

In two more years, it's going to be: Chief Who?

gamer wrote on September 27, 2010 at 4:09 pm

This comment could only have come from someone who has not attended a football or basketball game in the past 4 years. The spirit of Chief Illiniwek hasn't left the building.

spangwurfelt wrote on September 27, 2010 at 5:09 pm

The Chief's only been gone for two years, not four. Half the current undergraduates have never had a chance to see the Chief at Memorial Stadium. In two more years, it's going to be down to pretty much none.

And then the Chief will be something from the past remembered only by old people, and that will be the real kiss of death for the Chief among the undergrads. Wearing a Chief t-shirt will be like wearing a t-shirt for a forgotten band from a decade ago, suitable only for ironic nostalgia -- "remember the good old days when the U of I had a racist mascot? Oh yeah the good old days."

gamer wrote on September 27, 2010 at 5:09 pm

2/21/2007--The Last Dance. Nearly four years. The NCAA ruling came down prior to that. Any idea who is portraying the Chief this year? Check it out.

spangwurfelt wrote on September 29, 2010 at 7:09 am

Yeah, which white guy from the suburbs is going to do a fake 'Indian' dance cobbled together in the 1930s by another white guy using garbled bits and pieces from already-garbled white-guy Boy Scout lore in the name of 'authenticity'?

gamer wrote on September 29, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Your assumptions are incorrect.

cats kradle wrote on September 27, 2010 at 4:09 pm

This year the Chief is going to fight with a guy dressed up in a Bobcat suit in a symbolic gesture: Who will be the next Illinois mascot?

dillon715 wrote on September 29, 2010 at 11:09 am

EDIT

John O'Connor wrote on September 27, 2010 at 10:09 pm

The "chief" mascot is gone and it's never coming back.

William_D wrote on September 28, 2010 at 6:09 am

Chief? What Chief? The "Chief" is nothing more than a cartoon character — a fabrication, a brand, a logo (but still a logo that was never on U of I stationery). The Chief is not (nor has it ever been) a real person, so why must we "honor" it? Wait. Don't answer that. I know that people living in the past can make up lots of justifications for their actions. Time to move on, people.

dillon715 wrote on September 29, 2010 at 11:09 am

EDIT

lvgtm10 wrote on October 06, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Racism is defined by websters as: a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. Exactly how does Chief Illini constitute a racist mascot? Perhaps you should learn to master the english language before you spout off about racism and suggest that the Chief in some way denigrates the American Indian. Then take a look at the background of the "movement" to do away with American Indian symbolism in college sports versus the background and origins of the Chief. You might be very surprised at what you learn. And as far as the comment that in a few years the Chief will be forgotten, don't count on it. Bear in mind that the folks such as myself who now earn significant incomes are the ones supporting the U of I and it's athletics. The majority of us graduated between 15 and 20 years ago - about the amount of time it takes to become financially established and EARN the ability to make those sizeable contributions. Your generation is a long, long way from having that clout. What is more likely to happen is that within a few years the whiny little subgroup who cried until the Chief was retired will be gone and the University will once again hear the call of those who actually financially support it and the Chief will return. Go to a game sometime. Count the number of times "Chief" is chanted by the masses. HE WILL RETURN!