Lip-syncing Rugby Team Proves To Be 'Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger'

For immediate release:
Nov. 13, 2007

Contact: Arlie Corday,

WELLESLEY, Mass. – Wellesley College's House Presidents Council recently held a lip-sync contest with a prize of $150. Coincidentally, the rugby team needed new uniforms. Now all the team needed was a song and a plan.

Rugby dancers
DANCING AWAY WITH THE PRIZE: The rugby team put together this photo montage to promote their appearance at the lip-sync contest. From top, left to right: Becky Chan, Ali Pappas, Cathy Chu, Erika Navarro, Maryska Kaczmarek and Kris Arden.

Out of 10 student groups competing in the contest, the prize went hands down, so to speak, to the rugby song-and-dance team consisting of juniors Becky Chan, Maryska Kaczmarek and Erika Navarro, sophomores Ali Pappas and Cathy Chu and first-year student Kris Arden. Since that night, the rugby team has been celebrated for their version of Kanye West’s song “Stronger” and its popular YouTube takeoff, “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger ” by Daft Hands.

The Daft Hands version has had more then 7 million hits and involves a performance that is part mime/part contortionist, with words written on the fingers and palms of the performer. You can see the Wellesley rugby version on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsfW4RLEoSU. It involves a team dance with words written on arms, backs and stomachs. The routine called for skills in crossword puzzles, cheerleading and “Pop Goes the Weasel.” As one person noted, it’s more like a body-sync than a lip-sync. (The Daft Hands video can be viewed by clicking on a link on the rugby team’s YouTube page.)

“This all started about a month and a half ago at rugby practice when Becky Chan asked us girls if we would be interested in entering the lip-sync contest as the rugby team,” recalls Navarro. “Becky had seen the Daft Hands video on YouTube and was so inspired by it that she decided it would be really funny to paint the lyrics on our bodies and make up a dance routine in the same manner. So we decided after rugby we would get together, listen to the song a hundred times and start choreographing the routine. Little did we know we would be doing this almost every night until the contest!”

Chan and Cathy Chu put together a routine that won over judges Kim Bottomly, Wellesley College president, Victor Kazanjian, dean of religious and spiritual life, and Karen Berube of campus police.

“You have to watch the Daft singing hands first to appreciate what our students did,” said Marge Rowell, manager of the computing help desk, where Navarro is a student worker. “It was an amazing job of choreography!”

The students practiced every night at 11 pm as a “study break,” often dancing for hours. Between the six participants, about 180 hours of work went into the performance. But by the end, they knew the routine, well, backward and forward.

“We could only practice so much though because Ali Pappas, who was words "it" and "er," was spinning around for every single line and she would get really dizzy," Navarro said.

In the end, the team proved to be “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger ” than the competition.

“We were so excited when we won, not just because we really needed the $150 to put toward new uniforms, but just because everyone loved it and all our hard work paid off,” said Navarro said. Any chance of a repeat performance? “We would absolutely do it again,” she said, “but until then we usually just resort to doing it in the hallways of our dorm because we all live on the same floor. Though, speaking for all the performers, we would do it again anytime if someone asked us to perform it.”