Let Us Introduce You: Rita Winiecki

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Elevation president has a passion for fashion and dance 

 

Kristen Miano / Editor-in-Chief

Kristen Miano / Editor-in-Chief

Senior Rita Winiecki began Irish step dancing as the result of a bit of sibling rivalry.

“I was jealous because my mom took my sister to go see River Dance. They bought home the VHS and I watched it,” Winiecki said. “I fell in love.”

Her mom enrolled her in a dance school and when she realized her daughter was serious about step dancing, she moved her up to a competitive school. Seventeen years later, Winiecki is still step dancing as the president of Saint Louis University’s Irish Dance Team, Elevation.

Winiecki joined Elevation in her freshman year, the same year the club began.

“There was a group of people who wanted to start an Irish dance club, so I was able to join the first year I got here,” Winiecki said. “The first 3 years I was a part of it, I was a choreographer.”

In her role as president, Winiecki said she finds herself doing a lot of managing in addition to dancing.

“Organizational skills are definitely tested,” Winiecki said. “You want to allow people to do their own thing, but reeling people in and keeping the focus is sometimes hard.”

Despite the challenges, Winiecki loves being part of Elevation because it gives her a chance to share her passion with the SLU community.

“In high school, you have your sport or activity. Irish dance becomes your sport. You compete. You live, eat and breath Irish dance all the time,” Winiecki said. “When I got to college and stopped competing, it was nice to have an outlet for something I had been doing for my whole life.”

Out of all the performances she has done with Elevation, Winiecki said that her favorite was probably the showcase the group did last year. As a choreographer for the show, she said she put a lot of work into it and was very happy with how it turned out.

“I was really proud of it and everyone did really well,” Winiecki said. “And we got a really great reaction from the audience as well.”

Though she is committed to dancing, Winiecki has another passion she focuses on. In her spare time, she sometimes writes fashion articles for The University News, runs a fashion blog with her sister called “Chocolate Covered Culture” and hopes to eventually get a job working in the fashion industry as an adverting or marketing person.

Winiecki’s passion for fashion began at a young age thanks to shopping trips with her grandma.

“When I was younger, my grandma used to take us to these ‘shop til you drop’ events once or twice a year,” Winiecki said. “We would go to Nordstrom’s and try on a bunch of stuff. We didn’t buy much, but my grandma would introduce us to different fashions and that sort of thing.”

Apart from the dancing and the fashion, Winiecki enjoys traveling. Though she did not study abroad, she did spend last summer backpacking across Europe with her brother and sister. They traveled to 15 different cities over the course of 6 weeks.

Though she is graduating this year, Winiecki isn’t positive what she wants to do yet. She said, however, that she is up for anything.

“Even though I’m a senior, I still feel like a kid,” Winiecki said. “I like trying out things.”