College Dance Team Central

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The DePaul Dance Team

Dancing Fools
by Scott Phillips
Staff Writer
The Depaulia

Basketball games at DePaul are an event. There is the Screamin’ Demons Band, the cheerleading squad, the Blue Crew and alumni who all come to support the team. Further enhancing this excitement are the contributions of the DePaul Dance Team. This group of 12 ladies works hard to dance for each home game for the men’s and women’s basketball teams.

What is not known about the dance team is the amount of work and dedication they put toward perfecting their routines. Besides dancing, the team must know the school’s fight song, works out twice a week for one hour, and travel to various functions on sometimes short notice. Practice is also the most important time for the dancers to come together and learn a new routine.

The team practices three times a week for about six to eight hours.

“The days and times usually have to change for facility availability,” said senior dancer Sheena Laird.

This means the team must be flexible when they schedule for things to be able to accommodate practice. The team also conducts an extensive tryout that runs for two days. The first day is a clinic where new dancers learn the basics and then are able to execute them on the second day of the tryout.

The team also learns many new dances throughout the year.

“We learn close to 10 routines a year aside from game-day choreography like sideline routines performed to the music of the DePaul Pep Band,” said senior dancer Mary Krosnjar.

Since the team learns so many new dances, they need to use all of their practice time effectively to stay sharp. Laird said the team puts a lot of effort into dance steps. “We usually learn a routine in one hour. Then we spend an hour or two cleaning it,” Laird said. “Then we run the routine and fix details until we perform it. We learn routines anywhere from one month to two weeks before we perform it; it depends on the game schedule,” said Laird.

Besides basketball games, the dance team does many activities to gain exposure.

This past summer the team sold doughnuts to raise money and had a car wash as well. The dance team was also fortunate to be asked to perform on WGN’s morning show as DePaul opened the season. Xtreme Madness, DePaul’s annual festivities to the start of the basketball season, also features the campus debut of the dance team every October.

If the men and women’s team travels to conference tournaments of the NCAA tournament, the dance team will often follow in support. “We do other random stuff like FEST and anything that we get invited to,” said team member Debbie Allan.

While the dance team puts in a lot of work together to entertain DePaul fans, they are also a tight knit group that loves to have fun.

“We are a fun group. We can definitely be silly, but when we need to get down to business with our dancing we know how to do that too,” said sophomore Ann Opalka.

The extensive travel schedule that the team encounters usually helps them get closer.

“It’s really later in the season when we get to travel for conference and NCAA tournaments that we really get to hang out,” said Laird. “Those trips are really fun and bring the whole team together.”

The team works hard and has plenty of fun, but it seems to lack the attention of many on-campus activities. A possible reason is that the team does not compete.

“It is a large time and monetary commitment,” said senior Mary Krosnjar. “Competing is a dream and a goal for the DePaul Dance Team in the near future.”

Although these ladies are not competing right now, they are still a major campus contributor.

“DePaul dance team is a great way to be a part of a close team, have fun, and do what you love: dance,” said Opalka.

“A lot of times people say ‘There’s a dance team? I didn’t know that,’ which I always find to be funny. But I have a feeling that will change soon, if the girls start competing,” Laird said.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Towson U. Dancers Are On Winning Streak

Team takes 8th championship in a row at Chick-fil-A Cheer and Dance event in Fla.

By Mary Scott
Baltimore Sun
Originally published May 19, 2006

After almost a year of planning, conditioning and rehearsing, the Towson University Dance Team's season came down to two
minutes and 15 seconds. Two minutes and 15 seconds to wow the crowd, impress the judges and dance for a score high enough to win them another championship.

The team did just that last month in Daytona Beach, Fla., where it netted its eighth consecutive win at the Chick-fil-A Cheer and Dance Collegiate Championship, which draws teams from across the country. Its title was in Dance Division I.

The Towson team's winning streak appears to be unmatched at the competition.

"I don't know of anyone at any division level that's done that," said Bill Boggs, an official with the National Spirit Group, which organizes the event.

The winning routine, performed to the songs "Another Opening, Another Show," "We Run This" and "There's No Business Like Show Business," had been in the making since January.

"Going into nationals, I felt confident about our chances, but we still had so much work to do, it was just like another step," said co-captain Mikki Bresnahan, a senior.

The work was the seven hours they practiced every day while in Florida, where they competed against about two dozen teams.

At the Chick-fil-A competition, one of several national dance contests for college students, each dance must have a jazz section, a hip-hop section and a pom dance section, along with a section emphasizing technical skills such as leaps and turns.

"I don't know if I've ever been so nervous in my life," said assistant coach Laura Blank of the team's finals performance. "You know each girl's flaw, who the best leapers are, who the best turners are. I was watching every single part that I was nervous about and had no control."

The team collectively choreographs all of its routines rather than hiring a professional choreographer.

"We love the fact that there's input from everybody on the team; it makes it a more personal experience," said co-captain Taylor Walker, a senior.

Tom Cascella, a professor in the department of theatre arts since 1977, began coaching the team five years after his daughter Kimberly died at age 2.

Cascella was good friends with the university's dean of students, who needed a coach for a new student dance group called the Tigerettes. The university official suggested that Cascella get involved.

"Working with them fills a dark place in my heart," said Cascella. "It's kind of a part of my heart and soul. It's a very personal part of me."

Boggs, the National Spirit Group official, said Cascella deserves a lot of credit for Towson's unusual winning streak.

"I think it's probably a combination of things, but if I had to put a finger on one, it would probably be their director in terms of recruiting the right caliber of students they want to get involved in their program," Boggs said.

Cascella began coaching the team 13 years ago, with no dance experience. He said that when he took over, half of the team quit because they did not want a male coach. The other half quit after he changed their name from the Tigerettes.

"When we first started, we had cheerleaders with some dance experience, and now we have dancers with some cheer experience," said Cascella.

While none of the young women on the team is a dance major, most of them have been dancing for at least 12 years.

The team practices about four days a week all year. Team members say they feed off each other for motivation.

"There is such a sisterhood here," said Bresnahan. "At different times, I look back and realize how much dedication and hard work is involved in this. The reason I'm still here is because of the girls."

Walker agrees with Bresnahan that the team members are a motivating force.

"When I wake up in the morning and am feeling completely exhausted, I think of the girls to get me to practice," she said. "Even when we're just running during conditioning, I can hear the girls in the back yelling at us to keep going."

Sun reporter Kristi Funderburk contributed to this article.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

CDTB Spotlight on the State of Utah

With numerous division I athletic programs and a long tradition of excellent spirit squads in the state, the College Dance Team Blog takes an opportunity to feature the collegiate dance teams of Utah. Spotlighted are the Crimson Dance Line from the University of Utah, the BYU Cougarettes, the Aggiettes of Utah State, the Weber State Dance Team, and the Utah Valley State Dance Team.

Crimson Dance Line; University of Utah

The University of Utah Crimson Line Dance team is made up of female performers who are college freshman age or older. Community Service projects are important activities for the Crimson Line to participate in. These young women volunteer for many different charitable organizations around the state of Utah, such as: the Karl Malone Foundation for Kids, Be a Star Day, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, the American Cancer Society, Pennies by the inch for Primary Children's Hospital, the State of Utah Basketball Hall of Fame, and recently the Crimson Line raised money and donated items to the hurricane Katrina victims. The Crimson Line Dance Team performs and makes several appearances throughout Utah and the Intermountain West. The Crimson Line performs at all University of Utah home football games, Men's and Women's basketball games, and at the traditional "Ute" tailgate parties.

The Crimson Line is directed by Lori Rupp

BYU Cougarettes

The Cougarettes from Brigham Young University hardly need an introduction to fans of collegiate dance teams. Winners of the 2005 and 2006 national championships at the Chick-fil-a NDA Collegiate Nationals, the Cougarettes have won the NDA crown six times since the competition began. First established in 1946, the Cougarettes are housed within BYU’s prestigious Dance Department. They are a contributing factor to the excellence and expertise that is indicative of the mission of the department of dance. The Cougarettes are categorized as a precision dance team, but in fact the scope and breadth of their focus is deeper and much more varied. The Cougarettes are fluid in jazz, funk, lyrical, character, high kick, and military. Dancers are required to have knowledge and practical abilities in ballet, modern, and jazz technique. They must also maintain their growth and progression in each of these areas while they are members of the performance team.

The Cougarettes are directed by Jodi Maxfield

Utah State Aggiettes

The purpose and mission of the Utah State University Spirit Squad is to encourage enthusiastic student participation at USU athletic events and promote Aggie pride through new ideas, traditions, and activities. The perfect organization to bring Aggie pride to the public are the Aggiettes, who form the USU Spirit Squad along with the Cheer Squad, and the Big Blue mascot. The Spirit Squad travels on occasional football road games, bowl games, and conference and post basketball tournaments. In addition to athletic support, the squad contributes many hours of community service. Projects have included supporting the Christmas Box House, Shriner's Hospital, Special Olympics, senior citizen centers, and public schools. During auditions, dancers are taught three different styles of dances; technical jazz dance and hip-hop, followed by a pom routine. Dancers also perform “across the floor” technical turns and leaps, as well as a few sideline cheers. Dancers are judged on appearance, showmanship, enthusiasm, technique, coordination and an interview.

The Aggiettes are directed by Linda Zimmerman.

Weber State Dance Team

The Weber State Dance Team is part of the WSU spirit squad that recently earned third place at the USA Collegiate Cheer and Dance Nationals at the Cashman Center in Las Vegas. The 34 member squad competed in the four-year college co-ed division. The Wildcats earned third place in the event for the second-straight year, having finished in the same position at the competition last year. The Cheer and Dance Team of Weber State University considers itself the best squad in the Big Sky Conference. Making the team means making new friends, new experiences and getting involved with athletics, the university and the community.

The Weber State Dance Team is directed by Summer Willis.

Utah Valley State Dance Team

Although the UVSU athletic department is new to Division I, the UVSU Dance Team has already made its mark at the top levels of national competition. The squad placed 7th overall at the 2006 Chick-Fil-A College Nationals in Daytona Beach Florida earlier this spring, competing with 20 other schools in the Division 1 Category. Auditions are held every April, and the UVSU Dance Team has shown that it will be a force to be reckoned with in the future.

The Utah Valley State Dance Team is directed by Carly Tooke and Ashley Hardison.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Tiger Girls Squad for 2006-07 Selected

Courtesy: LSU Interactive

BATON ROUGE -- Tryouts for the 2006-07 Tiger Girls Dance Team were held May 5-6 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on the campus of LSU and the team has been selected.

The following young ladies were selected:

Alisha Andrepont, Megan Bordelon, Christina Calamia, Christina Caporella, Krisen M. Davis, Rachal DeLouche, Ashley Geig, Lacy Goree, Lauren Hammond, Holly Harris, Kristen Hebert, Brittany Keaney, Angele Louviere, Meagan McDaniel, Aimee Pitre, Andrea Sonnier, Megan Sutton, Natalie Viator and Heather Williams.

The LSU Athletic Department would like to thank all of those that participated in this year's selection process.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Harvard Dance Team Gets "Made"

Thursday, May 04, 2006
The Harvard Crimson

Behind the sparkly costumes, heavily hair-sprayed ponytails, and overly exaggerated smiles of The Harvard Crimson Dance Team (CDT) are young women who started out as slightly awkward ballerinas.

“When I was five, I walked pigeon-toed,” says former captain Patricia L. Pringle ’07, with some embarrassment, while talking over coffee. “My father suggested that ‘maybe she should start taking ballet.’”

Former captain Kimberly M.Y. Chang ’06 laughs and adds that she slouched as a child and that ballet was also suggested as a remedy.

Chang and Pringle, now lithe and limber, are part of the 13-woman CDT, whose performance this weekend, “I want to be…MADE,” promises to be anything but awkward. With a routine containing pom, jazz, and funk sections—loosely organized around the MTV-style theme of fame and stardom—CDT’s performance will combine impressive athleticism, graceful lyrical dance, and incredibly sexy energy.

The CDT spend most of its year intensely preparing for the National Dance Alliance Collegiate Championship in Daytona Beach, Fla., at which they have ranked sixth for three years in a row. The team has only four weeks from nationals at the beginning of April to ArtsFirst weekend to prepare for their annual concert.

But Monika Laszkowska ’07, one of the new captains, says the ArtsFirst performance actually gives the team a chance to be more creative and artistic than when they’re practicing their routine for nationals or performing twice a week for the Harvard Men’s Basketball games.

Additionally, while CDT’s routines may be one of the more athletic and unique within the dance community, no one currently on the team had a background specifically in the style of competitive dance; most come from 13 years of ballet, jazz, or musical theater training, says Laskowska. The team is currently undergoing a transition in its membership—former ballerinas and studio dancers have replaced the pom squad girls of previous years. As a result, Chang says, “the routines have become much more difficult and technically sophisticated, with a shift towards jazz.”

Several of the dances will be choreographed to songs that fit the “Made” theme of glamour and fame—Jessica Simpson’s “Boots,” “All that Jazz” from “Chicago,” and songs from the movie “Center Stage.” But the choreographers have also exercised creative freedom and diversity in their choice of numbers—Chang says she’s selected Godsmack’s “Voodoo” for one of her pieces.

Appropriately to the theme of its show, the CDT itself seems very much to be self-made. Because Harvard qualifies them as a club sport instead of a varsity sport, their funds from the College are quite limited.

Chang says that they “make their own costumes, sewn together with appliqués from the Garment District.”

“There’s a dance aspect, and there’s a small business aspect,” Laskowska says.

“Sweatshop element,” Chang interjects, giggling.

Pringle recalls an incident at nationals, at which dancers from New York University who had $40 per day stipends from their school, actually bought food for the Harvard dancers. “We looked hungry, I guess,” Pringle says as she laughs and bites into her bagel.

Laszkowska comments on other limitations on the CDT compared to their competitor schools: “We all do go to Harvard—other schools can practice twice a day—girls have other commitments here.”

CDT practices are no less intense, though, as the team practices three to four days a week for most of the season, in addition to its twice weekly basketball appearances. “You need to be able to sprint so hard for two minutes,” Pringle says of the athleticism required of their self-choreographed dances.

Despite their gigantic smiles while performing, called “facials,” the young women of the CDT are very serious about dance.

“You can’t help but be ecstatic,” Laskowska says with a smile.

Likely, audience members at this weekend’s “I want to be…MADE” will share in the dancers’ ecstasy.

—Staff writer Kristina M. Moore can be reached at