College Dance Team Central

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

First-year Classy Cat Brings World of Experience, Skill to Team

By: Sheila Ellis
Media Credit For All Photos: Steven Doll
Kansas State Collegian

The spotlight was on her - a young girl in a pink tutu and sequins sparkling just as bright as her smile.

She wasn't scared then. She isn't scared now.

The same fearless woman can be spotted wearing her purple sequins and shaking it with the Classy Cats.

Shamekia Kirklin, freshman in pre-psychology from Copperstone, Texas, and a member of the Classy Cats, said she loves the crowd.

Amanda Young, a fourth-year Classy Cat, said Kirklin brings a lot of spirit to the team.

"Shamekia is the only girl on the team that has the same amount of energy at the beginning of the game and at the end," Young said.

Kirklin said she never tries to out-dance or outshine any of the other Classy Cats.

"I just dance. I love performing in front of people," she said.

Although Kirklin grew up in a military family and has moved around since she was born, she found one thing she could do well everywhere she went: dance.

She said her love for dance started at age 2.

For five years, she lived in Germany, where she learned different styles of dance.

"Their dance is definitely different from dance here in the U.S., because they have their own culture, and they show it in their dance," she said.

While in high school, Kirklin performed in many places across the United States. She has danced with famous choreographers like Wade Robson from the reality TV show "So You Think You Can Dance," and choreographers for top music artists like Usher, Britney Spears and Beyoncé.

She has studied under many dance teachers, but one, Denise Wall, has had a particularly large influence, Kirklin said.

Wall has produced many national dance success stories straight from her studio in Virginia Beach, Va.

"She helped me realize my passion for dance and how I wanted to continue dance throughout college," she said.

Kirklin said Wall was strict and loving at the same time.

"When it came to dance, that was her passion, (and it) made her job worthwhile. She wanted everyone to dance the same and look the same," she said.

Kirklin said Wall was a positive role model and a second mom.

When it was time for Kirklin to decide what to do after high school, attending K-State was high on the list.

"It was very ironic that she (Kirklin) was out there rooting for K-State to beat her hometown team of Texas at the last home game," Kathleen Henao, Classy Cat coordinator, said.

Auditioning for the Classy Cats seemed like the next logical step in collegiate life for Kirklin after she chose to attend K-State.

After the two rounds of team tryouts, coordinators announced the selected women's numbers.

"When they called my number, I was so excited and ready to be a Classy Cat," Kirklin said.

Henao said women who audition for the team must attend a clinic, learn Classy Cat dance style and pay $500 to $700 in uniform, camp and other fees.

"This clinic usually weeds out some of the girls that are not so serious," Henao said.

Henao said the women have an hour to learn two combination dances of about 45 seconds each. Then they are asked to perform the dances for judges. Cuts are made, and auditioners start a second round of more intense techniques.

Kirklin is the only black woman on the Classy Cat dance team.

Coming from predominantly white schools, Kirklin learned how to adapt and not view at herself as an outsider because she looked different.

"I don't look at dance as a race. It's just performing," she said. "We all love dance."

Henao said Kirklin is talented and is a great asset to the team.

"Shamekia is a person who wants to be remembered for who she is and not what (race) she is," Henao said.

This part of Kirklin's personality came from her family, Kirklin said. Relatives taught her not to look at race but look at individuals and their accomplishments.

"I am so close to my family. They have had so much to do with the person I am today," she said.

In her spare time, she choreographs solos for high school dance teams.

Another passion Kirklin has is helping people. She said she values assisting and supporting her close friends.

While in high school, Kirklin earned her Certified Nursing Assistant degree.

"I want to be a nurse so that I can help people," she said.

If it came between a professional dance career and being a registered nurse, Kirklin said she would try to do both because she is passionate about both.

In Kirklin's transition into college, she has faced some obstacles, including moving out of the residence halls mid-semester to have freedom to study and time to herself.

And when it comes to being a part of the Classy Cats, Kirklin said the team is close and helps fulfill her college experience.

Henao said the women participate in team bonding activities often.

Young said the Classy Cats are like a family.

"We have team unity in more than just dance and appearance. We are unified in our daily lives," Young said.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Former WSU Crimson Girl On Sonics Calendar Cover

Go 2 Guy: Coug graces cover of calendar

Seattle P-I


"Jim, Jennifer Carroll from the Sonics. Our dance team's swimsuit calendar is coming out on Friday and a Coug is on the cover. Just wondering if you'd like to write about it."

"Uh, no thanks Jennifer, if you don't mind, I'd rather talk to, look at and write about sweaty men for the 18 millionth time."

Yeah, right. Of course I'd like to write about it.

The 15-month calendar, featuring all 15 dance-team members, goes on sale today and can be purchased for $15 at the Sonics & Storm Team Shop or online at

Before and at halftime of tonight's game against Sacramento at KeyArena, dancers will autograph the calendars at designated locations on the concourse, and at the FSN HD Lounge postgame.

In return for the autographs, fans are being asked to donate to Holiday Assist, a Sonics and Storm foundation that supports holiday events and other giving campaigns.

Two years ago, the Sonics asked the Go 2 Guy to help select pictures for the inaugural dance-team calendar. I was really busy and had many conflicts but somehow rearranged my schedule and found the time.

I've been snubbed since, probably for good reason, evolving from stately judge to dirty old man.

It appears the Sonics have this swimsuit-calendar thing down anyway, and I'll say this -- unless I'm missing something, 2007 cover girl Denee Wolpert has Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue potential.

The '06 Washington State graduate had never modeled or posed for a photo shoot before.

"I just kind of went with it," said Wolpert, 23.

At the shoot, Sonics director of marketing Ben Wilson, photographer Nigel Cooper and graphics designer Cole Meier looked at Denee, looked at each other and knew right away -- that's the cover shot.

An advertising major at WSU's Edward R. Murrow School of Communication, Wolpert is working as an account coordinator at a local ad agency.

She grew up in Spokane, went to North Central High School and was a member of the WSU dance team.

Last summer she danced for the arenafootball2 champion Spokane Shock.

Wolpert is only the second Coug on the Sonics' dance team in the past 12 years, the other being Tricia Benzinger.

"We tried to hold her back and thought about having a JV team because she's a Cougar, but the reality is, everybody adores her," Wilson said. "She's been a hit."

Wolpert said she purchased the swimsuit at Bikini Beach in Kirkland.

"It was the most expensive swimsuit I've ever bought," she said. "But it was well worth the money."

As a red-blooded male, I think she looks terrific in the cover shot and inside shot for January 2008. But there's a part of me who's the father of a 15-year-old daughter who wonders what Denee's dad thinks about this. If the Go 2 Girl ever poses for a calendar, I might have a problem with guys lusting over her provocative photo.

It's an issue easily won by the red-blooded male now, but that could change.

As for Denee's dad: "He said, 'Wow, that's great!' " Wolpert said. "He was encouraging, believe it or not. But he hasn't seen the pictures yet."

The Go 2 Wife saw them all, and if you want a woman's perspective, she thought Abby (April '07) and Leanne (September '07) were the cutest and most likely to take home to meet your parents. Jillian (July '07) looks as if she's most apt to end up in a Victoria's Secret catalog.

She also thought Donabelle (June '07) was the sexiest and that Denee was a beautiful girl but used too much hair spray.

So what if Washington State lost the Apple Cup? A Coug is on the cover of the Sonics' dance-team calendar.

"I never would have put my chips on that," Wilson said.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wisconsin-Whitewater Displays a Different Style and Set of Moves

Staff writer
Royal Purple News
November 08, 2006

During the late hours of the Williams Center, the pom and dance team practices four days a week, preparing for halftime.

Whether it is halftime of a Warhawk football game, when they are considered a poms team, or a basketball game, when they are considered a dance team, they are given about a two minute window to display hours of hard work.

“It takes a lot of time and a lot of hard work, that I think gets taken for granted,” said coach Dominique Leuzzi. Although the amount of time and effort given to each performance may go unnoticed, fans stay to enjoy the performance.

“When you’re out there, you can tell when people slowly start to leave,” Leuzzi said. “But people definitely stay until halftime to watch us.”

When performing during football games, the roster consists of 14 athletes, while during the basketball season it consists of seven. Current members of the poms team include coaches Becky Kusch and Leuzzi, team captain Carrie Morstead, Tiffany Dorsey, Ashley Hoffman, Jessica James, Rachel Kuklinski, Renee Lochemes, Aubrey Munsen, Kathy Murphy, Lissa Robinson, Terri Rouse, Kelly Schmidt and Danielle Zyvert.

Like any sport, this team feeds off the enthusiasm of the crowd.

“[The crowd cheering] makes it a lot easier and more enjoyable to go out there and do the routine and smile the whole time because the fans are going crazy,” said Leuzzi.

Events such as Homecoming and Midnight Madness are favorites for the UW-Whitewater dance team, but one memorable moment occurred when the setting was perfect.

While the poms team was out on the field in mid routine one game day, the music stopped as a result of a technical problem. Instead of calling it quits, however, the ladies continued through the performance by counting their steps.

“When we were done, everyone was standing up and everyone was clapping,” Leuzzi said. “It means a lot to us when something goes wrong with technical equipment and then have everyone supports us,” Leuzzi said.

Along with the excitement of performing before crowds of their peers; camaraderie and friendship are reasons for becoming a member of UW-Whitewater’s dance team.

“We are all really close,” Leuzzi said. “It makes more fun to be a part of it and you need to have fun, because when you practice late at night you can get really irritated with one another.”

Since the dance team doesn’t travel to away games, the only time they have been seen performing for the last two years is at UW-Whitewater sporting events. But on Dec. 9, the dance team will be in a competition held at the UW-River Falls.

“We came in first two years ago,” Leuzzi said. “We’re all really excited, because we want to win.”

The dance team would love to see people there helping them perform well by cheering.

“We really appreciate all the enthusiasm and fan support,” said Leuzzi.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

UMass Dartmouth Dancers Get Shot With Celtics

By Max Bowen/
The Mariner at

Vanessa Campea said she hasn’t thought much about her upcoming performance at the Nov. 8 Celtics basketball game with the UMass Dartmouth Dance Team.

But if she is nervous about it, she expects she’ll feel it soon enough.

"I’m sure it’ll hit me as soon as I’m standing there," said Campea, an Abington resident who has been with the team for the past two years.

Campea has been dancing since she was 3 years old, and when she heard of the team, she felt it could open a lot of doors as well as make a few friends.

Two students started the team in the spring of 2003 and since its inception has performed at UMass Dartmouth basketball games, both the boys and girls teams.

With the recent addition of coach Amy Carroll, Campea said the team will now be able to take part in competitions against other schools, an opportunity to prove they’ve got the right moves.

"It’s exciting because being able to compete, that’s the whole idea behind the practice," said Campea. "I do it for fun in the first place."

This all-female team has 14 members, some as local as Abington and Plymouth and some from as far away as Fairhaven or Canton, Conn. They perform different types of dance including jazz, hip hop, ballet and lyrical, which Campea described as being somewhere between ballet and jazz.

The team is selling $60 seats for the Celtics game against the Charlotte Bobcats at only $40, with the proceeds going toward their expenses.

Taking part in competitions will also give Campea and other dancers a chance to recognized by the school as an official college team, a designation that could garner them some funding for uniforms. For now the team holds fundraisers to covers its costs.

Campea is a junior at UMass with a major in civil engineering. Hip-hop is her favorite style of dance, mainly because of the fast pace. While she doesn’t plan to pursue a career as a dancer, she said being on the team helps her to organize the rest of her schedule.

"It’s fun and it’s where I met my friends," said Campea. "I’m not looking to dance for the rest of my life, as much as I’d like to."

Sunday, November 05, 2006

UC Dance Team Gets #1 Ranking

Nov 3, 2006
Bearcat Insider

University of Cincinnati has once again seen it's dance and cheer squads receive high marks as they prepare to defend their title and keep their national status.

The University of Cincinnati Dance Team is at it again with a “Number One” ranking following the Universal Dance Association’s review of video entries for this year’s national championships.

The Bearcats head a list of 30 schools selected to compete in the 2007 College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championships, to be held January 12-14 at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Under the guidance of Lisa Spears, the Bearcats have won the last three national titles in the Hip-Hop division along with a top eight finish in the main competition in the last four seasons.

Not to be overlooked is the Bearcats Cheerleading Team who was ranked second in the Northeast Region. The Bearcats have finished in the Top 10 in the nation ten times in the past.