College Dance Team Central

Friday, December 22, 2006

Florida State Golden Girls

'We're crazy, but we're dedicated'

By Jennifer Jefferson
Tallahassee Democrat
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"They are not cheerleaders. They do not stunt. They do not tumble. They are dancers," coach Wendy Crawford said.

They are the Golden Girls, Florida State University's official dance team, and they excite the crowd at home basketball games with their three performances and corresponding outfit changes. They never do the same routine twice. They'll be performing tonight when the Seminoles take on Coastal Carolina University at the Civic Center.

“They were ranked, like, 30-something,” Crawford said, remembering when members convinced her four years ago to coach the team. “Now they are fifth in the nation, so we are pretty darn happy about that. I put too much effort into this when I was in school to let it die.”

When Crawford was a Golden Girl, the team always placed in the top five at the National Dance Association's Collegiate Nationals. The Golden Girls have since reclaimed the No. 5 national ranking, and they hope to better it at the national competition at Disney Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando in January.

Dance teams from universities across the country send in video performances to compete to be ranked in nationals, but only 30 teams are selected.

Luckily, being in the top five comes with perks: They don't have to pay the $15,000 it would have cost the Golden Girls in fees and expenses to go to nationals. It is money the team would have had to raise on its own.

“We're almost guaranteed to go straight into the finals,” Crawford said. “It's all about fighting for the title once we're there.”

Sweating for success

Being one of the 20 Golden Girls isn't easy.

When Crawford was a student at FSU, 300 girls tried out for the team. These days, about 100 girls try out over three days, and no more than 20 make the final cut.

Freshman business student Jennifer Efstathion said trying out was “sort of intimidating.”

Efstathion has been dancing since she was 3 years old. A former dance teacher in Jacksonville was a Golden Girl and suggested that she try it.

Her experience thus far has been “amazing and so much more than I thought.”

The girls practice twice a day, four times a week. The first practice is from 5:30 to 7 a.m., and there is an evening practice from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., sometimes until 10 p.m. The team usually gets the weekends off from practice, but the girls are preparing for nationals, so they practice every day until Saturday.

One recent Saturday, they practiced with guest choreographer Ricky Ruiz from 12:30 to 7 p.m., with an hour break. There is no time for their muscles to get cold, and when it's time for the water break, they flee the practice room.

A Golden Girl needs to be “easy-going, adaptable and willing to work hard,” said Kristy Griffith, a senior dietetics student and Golden Girl.

“It's not for everyone,” said Taryn Heinemann, a Golden Girl and senior sports management student.

“We're crazy, but we're dedicated,” Crawford said. “They're not pretty girls with low IQs who don't have a good GPA.”

The team's grade-point average is 3.66. Some members are studying organic chemistry and are pre-medicine students. There are four dance students on the team.

“There are more years than not when at least one girl doesn't make it back on the team," Crawford said. "We have people who make the squad and every two years, someone ends up quitting.”

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Feature On ECU Dancer Laura Lee

Lee Beaming About Birmingham
By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
Washington Daily News

GREENVILLE — The stunning blonde-haired, blue-eyed sophomore sat on a bench and looked out onto the field at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on a warm, sunny mid-December afternoon.

It was an unusual position for Laura Lee, a Northside High School graduate. Lee is used to being on the field performing with the East Carolina University Dance Team.

“I love being out there performing,” Lee said. “I like making the audience cheer and getting everyone excited.

“The halftime shows at football look really good. We’ve seen them on video and we’re really proud of them.”

Though Lee is passionate about dancing in front of a packed house at Dowdy-Ficklen, she’s equally excited about performing at a bowl game. She’ll get that chance Saturday when the Pirates (7-5) square off with the South Florida Bulls (8-4) in the PapaJohns.Com Bowl in Birmingham, Ala.

“I’m really excited because it shows how hard we work and it really pays off,” Lee said. “It’s nice (the administration) is letting us. It’s really an honor. I’m really glad we get to go.”

Lee and her Dance Team partners will leave for Birmingham by bus Thursday morning. They’ll look to pack in a lot during a short amount of time.

“We’ll probably get there in time for supper and check into our hotel and then we’ll have some free time,” Lee said. “On Friday we’ll have a rehearsal and then we’ll spend some time at the mall. We’re going to have our band banquet and it will be a nice dinner. We’ll get to dress up. They’ll have a slide show and some pictures.

“We’ll have a second rehearsal some time that day and then Saturday is the big day. We get to perform at pre-game and at halftime.”

Lee’s family and friends will be able to watch her as the game will be televised on ESPN2. The game kicks off at 1 p.m.

“That makes me more excited knowing we’re going to be on television,” Lee said. “I’ve already told all my family to turn to ESPN2 and watch me. I told my mom (Beth Lee) to film it. I want to watch the game afterward to see if I’m on TV.”

Lee, who also performs with the team during ECU’s home basketball games, said the dancers put in long, grueling hours to stay in shape and perfect their routines. Along with the training, Lee juggles her schoolwork and a job. She’s been able to handle it all as Lee earned straight A’s this semester.

“I’m so excited,” Lee said. “When the semester started, I knew it was going to be hard to keep up my grades and do Dance Team. We practice all the time, pretty much every day, along with workouts on our own.

“It just made me work harder. I knew I had to keep up my grades so, every chance I got, I would study.”

Not long ago, Lee was also putting in several hours working to obtain her pilot’s license. She earned her license in August.

“I was so excited to get that,” Lee said. “It’s the best thing in the world. I felt like I really accomplished something and I think I made my dad (Larry Lee) really proud because it’s something he wanted me to do, and I wanted to do it for him. He loves flying and I want to love it as much as he does.”

Lee is happy that the Pirates have taken off this year as well, as ECU is playing in its first bowl game since 2001.

“I’m really glad they’re doing good,” Lee said. “I know they were in a slump for awhile. I used to come to the games when I was younger and they would win. Then, all of a sudden, you heard about how they were losing.

“It’s really great because you have a lot of students that want to go to the games and they’re cheering. I actually have some friends who are driving down (to Birmingham) to go see the game. It’s awesome that we’re getting such great support from the students, the fans and the community.”

Lee is hoping to see that trend continue next season. She said the more fans who pack into Dowdy-Ficklen, the better.

“The more the merrier,” Lee said. “I like having everyone out here. I love it when it’s packed.”

The excitement continues for the Pirates on Saturday at historic Legion Field, site of the Bowl. Packed stadium or not, Lee will be smiling with each dance move she makes.

Friday, December 08, 2006

FAU Dance Team Helps Raise Breast Cancer Awareness

In order to raise breast cancer awareness and to honor an eighteen-year-old team member who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, the FAU Dance Team performed a specialty "PINK" routine at their last basketball game. The novelty routine was a raging success, and Owl fans continue to be amazed by the team's diversity.

In addition to novelty routines like the breast cancer dance, the team also performs themed half-times to a wide variety of music, incorporating different styles of dance such as jazz, lyrical, hip hop, country and tap. With sizzling new outfits and uniforms for every energy-packed performance, the 2006-2007 FAU Dance Team is creating quite a stir on campus--as well as highlighting women's health issues.

Special Thanks to the FAU Dance Team for pictures and update

To visit the FAU Dance Team site: Click Here

Thursday, December 07, 2006

St. Thomas Hosts College Dance Teams Saturday

The second-annual Tommie Invitational College Dance Team competition will be held this Saturday at UST's Schoenecker Arena in St. Paul.

Doors open at 8:30 a.m., and the competition begins at 10 a.m. Admission is $5 ($3 with UST Student ID). Park free in campus lots just south and east of football field. Enter arena just east parking lot at Cretin & Summit Avenues

Concessions available for purchase through the duration of event.

The Tommie Invitational is the only collegiate dance team competition in the state. The event features both MIAC and Division I/II categories, plus exhibition performances by the Minnesota Timberwolves Dance Team and the national champion University of St. Thomas Dance Team.

St. Thomas University

Friday, December 01, 2006

Rend Lake Laker Girls Dance Team Wins Competition

By Nathan Wheeler - RLC Correspondent
November 30, 2006
Benton Evening News

O'FALLON - The Rend Lake College Laker Girls dance team brought home the Grand Champion Award for best overall performance this weekend at an AmeriDance Incorporated dance competition in O'Fallon. It was the squad's first competition so far this year.

“There were 19 other performances during the competition and we were chosen as the best performance!” said Coach Lyndsey Moore. “That is quite an accomplishment for our first competition.”

In addition to being Grand Champions, the Laker Girls' Hip Hop routine won the hearts of spectators and parents, as well as a First-Place trophy in the Open Division and Best Dance.

“The girls were really nervous, but they really pulled together as a team and performed very well!” Moore stated. “I was very pleased with their performance.”

The “Grand Champion Award” is awarded to the best performance of the entire competition and entitles the team to attend the AmeriDance International Competition in Orlando, Florida, Moore explained.

“These girls put in so much hard work and hours of their time, and as you can see ... it has really paid off!”

The Laker Girls hope to continue their success competing throughout the year and to qualify for the National Dance Alliance's Collegiate Dance Team Nationals in Daytona Beach, Florida.

The Laker Girls are Mindy Thackrey (Mt. Vernon - Team Captain), Jennie True (Desoto), Katie Furlow (Christopher), Nikki Furtak (McLeansboro), Heather Mitchell (Benton), Jamie Williams (Benton), Sarah Falknor (Herrin).

Visit the Laker Girls' Home Page: Click Here