College Dance Team Central

Sunday, January 28, 2007

CDTC Seeking Dance Team and Dancer of the Month Nominations

Beginning in February, College Dance Team Central will begin announcing a Dance Team and Dancer of the Month. Primary focus for selection will be recent performance, accolades, and community service/fund raising activities in addition to any academic accomplishments. College Dance Team Central hopes to help bring recognition to outstanding organizations and students on college campuses nationwide. To nominate a college dance team or an outstanding dancer, please email

Friday, January 26, 2007

Bearkat Becomes Rockets Power Dancer

By Kristin Edwards
The Houstonian Online

When people think of the Houston Rockets Power Dancers, a lot of negative stereotypes tend to pop up. Well that idea can be put to rest, because Sam Houston State University senior Stephanie Hutchins has been an active member of the professional team for over a semester, and the experience she has had proves that those ladies are truly incredible and enduring individuals.

Hutchins has been involved in dance programs for most of her life, starting with the standard ballet, tap and jazz classes as a three-year-old child. She was on the drill team in high school, and was also an Orange Pride dancer for three years during college. This is her first year on the professional dance team, and when the idea to try out first came up, she was not even sure if she was going to seriously pursue the position.

"The season started in the end of July, and I tried out with a friend of mine for fun. I went through a three week training camp with the other girls, and I found out I made it when school started," she said. "It was great. I didn't expect to make it; I was just trying to make it for the experience. I honestly didn't even think they'd consider me since I'm from Huntsville. I have to drive for an hour and a half where the other girls on the team only have to drive for 10 to 15 minutes."

So far, Hutchins has enjoyed being part of a professional dance team, calling that extensive drive as one of the only downfalls of the experience. Since the members of the team range in age from 18 to 33, it is a "totally different experience in a different atmosphere."

"I love dance and I love sports. I get to combine them while being a part of the Houston community, and that's what I love about it," she said. "I'm used to dancing with girls all my age, but with girls 18 to 33, I'm with girls from several different cultures and a wide range of backgrounds."

Being part of this team is not all dance and games, though. As a member of a professional dance team, practices are an important aspect, which means driving back and forth from Huntsville classes to Houston practices and back to start again the next day.

"I currently wake up at 6 a.m. to work out, go to school in the morning, leave for practice at 5, practice from 6:30 until 9:30, and I get home pretty late," Hutchins said. "This week, we have three practices and a game on Friday."

In addition to the demanding practice schedule, the Power Dancers also make public appearances in order to promote various games, ticket sales and, this week, their swimsuit calendar. Whether the events take place at businesses, bars or public interest events, there's "always something" for the team to do.

"Toyota is a big sponsor of the Rockets, so we make appearances with them. We go to viewing parties at bars and give out free t-shirts," Hutchins said. "We participated in a food drive in Houston, and since the Rockets are big supporters of animal rights, we also went to the Houston SPCA telethon."

It goes without saying that the ladies on the team are constantly busy, but their events and games also contribute to the chance of having another year on the team. According to Hutchins, having that knowledge is just another thing that keeps everyone "on their toes."

"I want to try out for another year, but when I tried out, less than half of the veterans, the returning girls, made it," she said. "During the year, everything you do contributes to how you'll be looked at the following year."

The pressure to perform at the best possible level is no match for the positive aspects taken away from the experience. Hutchins' family and friends have been supportive the whole time, and she now has a strong connection with the other dancers.

"Most of my friends are on the dance team, now. I would say that the girls are so nice, and everyone's genuine. They're just a really great group of girls," she said. "I'm typically shy, but dancing has given me a way to open up."

In the future, Hutchins aspires to teach school, be involved with a drill team any way she can and possibly get her Masters degree in order to become a counselor. For now, though, she is enjoying her time as a Power Dancer, and is very grateful for this year of her life.

"It's a great opportunity to do what I'm doing. With dancing at the games and meeting the people I get to, I wouldn't change this experience at all and I'd love to keep doing it."

Friday, January 19, 2007

Northern Iowa Dancers Finish Fifth

By Owen Siebring
Nothern Iowan

Last weekend, the University of Northern Iowa dance team and Panther mascot, TC, performed at the Universal Dance Association national competition in Orlando, Fla. This is a recount of their weekend.

Jan. 11:

5 p.m. – TC and the dancers arrive in Orlando and check into the All-Star Resort, where they will be staying for the weekend.

9:45 p.m. – After a short night gallivanting around town with some of the other mascots, TC hits the hay for his big adventure on Friday.

Jan. 12:

9:20 a.m. – After a quick warm up on the practice stage at Wide World of Sports, the members of the dance team choose to spend their day at the Magic Kingdom, where they had the privilege of being in a parade with the stars of the cinematic classic, “Toy Story.”

6 p.m. – After their visit to the happiest place on earth, the team sets off to see TC and the rest of the mascots perform at MGM studios.

9 p.m. – The final standings are announced, and TC places No. 10 overall in the nation. TC is upset that he couldn’t have finished higher, but he is pleased with having the experience of going to Orlando and competing with some of the greats, such as this year’s champion, “Sparty,” from Michigan State.

Jan. 13:

5:30 a.m.–The dance team begins its rigorous journey of makeup application, because the girls know that the judges will be looking for teams to have the same facial appearance.

9:23 a.m. – It’s crunch time for the dance team, and they dance their little hearts out. Sophomore Jessica Fuller explains the team’s approach: ‘Leave no doubt,’ a saying which she explained to mean, “leave no doubt in our minds and our hearts that we controlled that floor while we were out there. This will help us achieve the placing that we deserve.”

11:30 a.m. – The standings are announced, and 10 teams made it to the final round.

11:31 a.m. – Squeels of glee fill the air as the UNI dancers find out that they will be one of those teams performing in the final round on Sunday.

Jan. 14:

10 a.m. – The final competition for Division I dancers begins. UNI will be No. 8 out of 10 to perform, so they must wait anxiously and see what the other teams have to offer.

11 a.m. – The UNI dancers hit the stage. For the seniors, this will be their last chance to compete at the national level, so they know that this will be one of the biggest performances of their lives.

11:45 a.m. – Once again, the results are read, and once again, the dancers are on the edges of their seats ...

11:46 a.m. – UNI finally hears its name called at fifth place. Elation is the only word that can describe the feeling at that instant, as the UNI dancers have placed higher than any other dance team in the school’s history. When asked to describe the moment, senior Kim Gladson says, “It was absolutely amazing, and it’s still sinking in, but the second that they didn’t call our name No. 10, we knew we had finished higher than last year. Then they called four more teams before us, and that was ... it’s weird because it’s all just kind of a blur.” Gladson still has obvious trouble describing the feeling of knowing that, at their level, they are the fifth best team in the country.

Jan. 15:

9 p.m. – The dancers and TC are welcomed back to UNI - not with cheers of jubilation - but with near sub-zero weather, after enjoying temperatures nearing 80 degrees in Orlando. All of the dancers hope to enjoy the spoils of coming in fifth while they can, but they know that there is more work to do. As they prepare more routines for basketball games and get used to the fact that instead of being cheered on, they will be the ones doing the cheering until next January.

Cincinnati Dance, Cheer Teams Earn Awards

By Danh Vu
The News Record

ORLANDO, Fla. - The University of Memphis ended the University of Cincinnati dance team's three year winning streak as national champions at the 2007 National Cheerleading and Dance Team Championship in Orlando, Fla.

The dance team did come home with two second place finishes in both the Division I-A Dance and Hip Hop Categories. The all-girl cheerleading team finished second as well, the highest ranking in their program history.

Although expectations were high for the dance team to claim their fourth straight national title in the hip hop category, Memphis took first place by a margin of one point.

The second place finish in the dance category made them the only team to medal in two different events in Division I-A.

"It's hard to win three straight national titles and then come out second in the nation, but second in the nation is an unbelievable place to be in, especially in two categories," head coach Lisa Spears said. "We're the only Division I-A team in dance that won two medals and we're very proud of that."

Senior co-captain Julie Wiesman also noted their accomplishments in both categories and the improvements the team has gone through during her five years dancing at UC. "I'm thrilled. We've come so far as a team and that's what's important," Wiesman said. "We didn't come here to win, we came here to dance the best we could possibly dance and we danced as the best team in our history, today in both categories. I'm on top of the world right now."

The all-girl cheerleading team, which consists primarily of freshmen, finished second in Division I, placing them behind Morehead State.

All-girls team head coach Leigh Ann Eagle said she was thrilled. "I'm ecstatic. My goal was top five since I wanted to be realistic because I have 12 out of 20 girls that are freshmen and they have never competed on the collegiate level," she said.

The top eight teams scored during the pre-competition taping session had automatic bids to the final round and did not compete in the preliminaries, putting the UC co-ed team in ninth place heading to the finals.

UC's co-ed team finished 11th, despite losing two members to sickness and injuries within the last two weeks.

Student Government president Jerry Tsai also was in attendance and summarized the weekend of competition. "Our cheerleading and dance teams are pretty darn good. Number two is pretty cool which means only one other team is comparable and sometimes that is decided by as little as one single point," Tsai said. "I think all students and the university as a whole should be very proud that they have such a high caliber dance and cheer squad."

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Tennessee Dance Team Brings Home A National Championship

Tennessee's long elusive national crown finally found its resting place in Knoxville as Tennessee's Dance team captured its first national crown in commanding fashion at in the land of dreams and wishes.

At the Milk House in Orlando, Florida, Tennessee put on a dominating performance before a packed house at the Wide World of Sports Complex. Performing to "Your House" by Alisa Morissette, the dance team performed to an Acapella version of the song and simply rocked the house.

Co-Head Coach Kellie Edenmueller said this team knew this was the material it would take to bring home the national championship.

"We knew from the moment we put this together it had the potential to bring us a national championship. Our girls worked tirelessly and put together a great performance."

Tennessee was not without their fans as more than 150 made their way to the Milk House and turned the old can into a home away from home. It was something this program has sought for almost a decade.

"It is finally a breath of fresh air to win this national title, both from a coaching standpoint and a coordinator of trying to raise the bar," said UT Spirit Coordiantor Joy Postell. "Repeatedly these squads have come here and have left disappointed because they did not achieve their goal. To finally achieve the goal, to represent your university and to win the title is breathtaking and ecstatic.

"The feeling I have and pride I have that UT has allowed me to have a phenomenal program to reach out to so many spirit athletes. Not just athletics but in every aspect and to bring notoriety to this university. At Tennessee we work together as a team and cheer, dance, and mascot are all emphasized as being winners and achievers. Everyone of these teams is very supportive of the other. I am very fortunate to have the tools the university provides me to succeed. For us to reach the top five in every category is both not just a personal goal but a goal of every athlete in this program."

Tennessee was the only program in the nation to place in the top five in the country in Mascot (5th place), Cheer (4th place) and dance again in the Hip-Hop division with a 5th place finish.

Tonight was truly magical and the young women made it happen.

Story Courtesy:

Monday, January 15, 2007

UDA College Nationals Results

Division IA Dance Finals
2. Cincinnati
3. Minnesota
4. Wisconsin
5. Florida State
6. Louisiana State
7. Central Florida
8. Illinois
9. Alabama
10. Louisiana-Lafayette
11. Michigan State
12. Kansas
13 (t). Iowa
13 (t). Auburn
14. Memphis
15. Northwestern
16. Oklahoma
17. Mississippi

Division I Dance Finals
1. Cal State Fullerton
2. Long Beach State
3. South Alabama
4. Delaware
5. Northern Iowa
6. Sam Houston State
7. Southeastern Louisiana
8. Hofstra
9. Missouri State
10. Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Open Division Dance Finals
1. Orange Coast College
2. St. Thomas
3. Lindenwood
4. St. Benedict
5. St. Cloud State
6. Avila
7. College of New Jersey
8. North Dakota State
9. Minnesota-Moorehead
10. Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Friday, January 12, 2007

UDA College Nationals Preview - Division IA

With the UDA College Nationals upon us, College Dance Team Central previews the upcoming weekend with predictions from Dave Sanchez from the Dance Team Competitions Yahoo! Group. As moderator of one of the longest running sites devoted to all levels of dance competition, Dave takes a look at the Division IA Dance and Hip-Hop squads below.

Please visit the Dance Team Competitions Yahoo! Group Here


The premier dance division at UDA College Nationals. This year there are thirteen finalists and eight semifinalists returning to compete. The rest of the teams competing (with the possible exception of Louisiana-Monroe) have all competed before although none of them have made finals since 2000. It is a great field though and making it to the final round will be very tough.

1. Minnesota (Pictured): Don't know how you can pick against them. They had some program changes last year but they made it through that without too much of a wobble. To be honest, I haven't heard raves about their routine this year but they have been so far ahead of the pack for the last few years that it is going to take a drop by Minnesota and a big move by another team to knock them off. Could it happen? Yes, of course. But, I think Minnesota is going to end up doing all it can to defend the Dance title.

2. Tennessee: They didn't really thrill me last year and I sort of reluctantly accepted them as the 2nd place team. Just like in Hip-Hop though – they seem to strike a nerve with the judges/audience and seem to be on point stylistically – which is big. They were a very very easy 2nd place last year and that gives them a lot of cushion to hold off challengers from below while still chasing Minnesota. I don't think they can catch Minnesota this year though – I think they need at least one more year.

3. Cincinnati: I picked them 3rd last year and they barely slipped into 6th place. They had moving along just fine with their musical numbers and last year they jumped onto a new track which I do believe will take them to new heights in the rankings. That switch in style is tough to make in one year but, from all I have heard, they have their legs solidly under them in 2007. They were over 100 points behind Minnesota last year and about 80 behind Tennesee – I think we will see a big charge from Cincy this year – but it may be too much ground to make up in one year.

4. Florida State: I didn't like them quite as much as everyone else did last year (same in 2005) but they seem to have a ton of momentum – they had a bad draw in finals last year as well.

5. Wisconsin-Madison: They have been in the Top Four now for four years and they have followed up their 4th place finishes with a 2nd place finish each time. I don't know – I don't feel like they are making the right changes to climb the rankings – they just seem to be doing the same thing. A couple of teams are going to slip by them this year unless they have addressed the issues that have kept them from the top spot.

6. Kansas: Oh, I know Kansas is going to make me pay for this – they have been in the Top Five for the last four years and they were pretty far ahead of Florida State. I also thought they had a much more coherent routine in 2006 than they had in any of the previous years – so I feel like they are making a lot of the right moves. These low taping scores bother me a little bit though – I just don't sense a hunger to match the talent.

7. Louisiana: Even though they actually dropped in the rankings last year from 2005 – I felt like they made a solid move and it turns out they were a mere 3 points from 6th place in 2006. Ouch.= They have everything working for them and certainly could break into the Top Five – they just need to believe that they belong at the very top and dance with more confidence.

8. Central Florida (Pictured): Central Florida has been MONEY in the middle of the pack at Nationals. I feel like they have made a lot of good adjustments to their approach but they are not "moving with the times" as quickly as some other teams. Always a good show from UCF.

9. Memphis: I am hedging my bets a little bit on Memphis. I am not prepared to write them off in the Dance division – particularly after their third place finish in 2005. I don't know though – unless they shore up that technique – they are going to continue to drop like a stone down the dance rankings.

10. Illinois: Illinois reminds me a little bit of Kansas without quite the record of success. Lots and lots of talent but somehow they haven't done much better lately than slip into finals.

11. LSU: 2005 was the only year they missed finals in the last six – a consistent presence in the finals.

12. Michigan State: Still sliding down the rankings. I thought they would reverse that slide in 2006 but they didn't – missing finals. I am going to give them another chance.

13. Oklahoma: They keep slipping into the finals – why not this year.

14. Alabama: They finally dropped out of finals after a long run – I think they will be back in finals in 2007.

15. South Florida: They keep getting better – breaking into finals in 2006.


16. New Mexico: They will not take last place. Actually, they have a great coaching staff and a great choreographer and some pretty talented dancers although I know they can't hang with a lot of the teams here. Unfortunately they don't always pick up the very best talent in the state because they seem to run tryouts more like a sorority rush than a dance tryout – but I think they have a decent shot at finals – because they have some hunger and some smart coaches. So . . . Go Lobos! Actually the dance team is called the Chaparrals so . . . Go Chaparrals!

17. Iowa: They do have a ton of talent and I am sort of hoping that the routine they did at Iowa State was not their Nationals routine. Nothing wrong with it actually – it just didn't inspire. But, if they cleaned it up and hold their power through the end – they could definitely be in finals.

18. Nebraska: I didn't really like them that much last year and they have a terrible draw but they do have a lot of potential.

19. Auburn: Great walk-on last year – seriously – then it kind of went downhill.

20. Texas Tech: I might put them in finals if Bobby Knight was coaching them. Pretty good taping score though.

21. Mississippi: They always did well at NDA.

22. Colorado State: Tons of potential – but they haven't been in finals since 2004.

23. Kent State: They weren't bad last year and Ohio has been more of a presence in the dance world.

24. Northwestern: They had one of my lowest scores in semis last year – and none of the teams they beat on my score sheet are back this year.

25. Louisiana-Monroe: Big longshot.

26. Middle Tennesee State: Bigger longshot.

27. Nevada-Reno: Just like in Hip-Hop – the biggest longshot in the field. Feeling lucky??? They were in semis in 2001 though – so – yeah – big big longshots.


Twelve returning finalists, four returning semifinalists, one former finalist and four newcomers will all vie for the 2007 UDA College Nationals Division 1A Hip-Hop title.

1. Minnesota: I went around mouthing off all of last week that Florida would win the BCS Championship by double digits and so I am not going to back down from another bold prediction here. If Minnesota wins this though -- my next stop is Vegas. But seriously, I do think that Minnesota had the strongest overall performance in 2006 in Hip-Hop. Their music selection has been endlessly discussed but I think the more valid criticism was the comparative lack of difficulty. However, these days you don't (and shouldn't) get points merely for ATTEMPTING difficulty. If Minnesota is as rock solid as they were last year – and from all I have heard they will be – they will be 2007 Division 1A Hip-Hop Champions.

2. Cincinnati (Pictured): Cincinnati continues to dominate Division 1A Hip- Hop with a style that blends athleticism and rhythm. I still think Cincinnati (notice I am actually spelling it correctly this year -- which could be a bad omen for Cincy) sets itself apart with good routine pacing as well – sprinkling crowd-pleasing tricks and choreography throughout the routine. In term of having the right style for this competition – they don't miss a beat – and their dancing – while not as strong as Minnesota's – continues to provide a very strong base for everything else they do right. They could easily grab a fourth title – I have heard nothing but good things about this routine and it was their hip-hop dancing that got them first place in taping. That is pretty impressive.

3. Louisiana: They were 4th in prelims last year and then Tennessee just slipped by them in finals but all of these scores were very close. I said a few days ago that I thought Minnesota had the easiest problems to fix from last year but I think Louisiana had the next easiest problem to fix. The Ragin' Jazz had, in my opinion, the best rhythm last year – these girls can MOVE and they are smoooooth – hitting a lot of detail in the music. My only concerns with Louisiana are that they needed to show off a little more athleticism and dance with more confidence. To me – those were pretty easy fixes to make. The only other thing is – do better in finals than in prelims – they have had their better showing in prelims in Hip-Hop – last year they lost over 20 points to Tennessee. I expect Louisiana to be in the Top Five and I think they have a decent shot to win it all. Last year's move from 6th to 5th was significant though – Louisiana and Minnesota were the only finalists from 2005 to move up the rankings in 2006 – so I feel like they have momentum.

4. Memphis: It is scary to have Memphis in 4th place. Despite dropping from 2nd in 2005 to 3rd last year – I actually thought Memphis had a very well-crafted routine last year. They added a lot of those tentpole (high point) moments in their routine that were missing in 2005 but the only thing they didn't do – was hit with the same attack in finals that they had in 2005. I hesitate a little more with Memphis (and put them in 4th in my predictions) than with the teams I have ranked 1-3 because I have heard some mixed reviews on them this year but I KNOW that they have what it takes to win this Hip-Hop division and I would be surprised at all if they walk away with first place this weekend.

5. Tennessee: They burst on the scene in Hip-Hop last year all the way in 4th place but I have to confess – I don't really remember their routine that well. I think, other than perhaps Cincinnati, Tennessee seems to have the hip-hop style that more of the 20-somethings want to see. That is not a bad thing but I have to say it did leave me a little cold – I think it was a routine that was more for the dancers than the audience. Still, more raves for Tennessee going into Nationals and it is scary to rank them this low. I feel like if they don't end up in 5th place -- it is much more likely that they will finish higher, rather than lower and they definitely are another team with the potential to win it all.

6. Louisiana State: This Hip-Hop division is tough – especially when the best you can do for LSU is put them in 6th place. They blinked a little bit last year and haven't quite kept up with the increasingly tough competition in this division. A return to the Top Three would be a big move for LSU.

7. Florida State: I think the "jazz" teams have actually done quite well in Hip-Hop and the two disciplines have not been nearly as mutually exclusive as some people speculated they might be back when the Hip-Hop division started. With all of the hype – Florida State could easily be in the Top Five.

8. Central Florida: I agree with what people have been saying – UCF seems like a natural fit for this category – they should do well.

9. Vanderbilt: They had a great breakthrough performance last yearand, once again, they are only doing Hip-Hop. The teams I have ranked above them have such great talent though – and I felt like there was a such a big gap between the Top Six last year and the rest of the pack.

10.Kansas: They were only 11th place last year but, again, I have to vote for talent. I think this team is too good not to at least make finals.


11. Wisconsin-Madison: I don't know what happened to them last year but I think they have a very good chance to be back in the mix in Hip-Hop. Everyone loved them in 2005.

12. South Florida: Nice breakthrough performance last year but it is going to be tough to match in 2007.

13. Michigan St: They were 8th in 2005 so they certainly have what it takes.

14. New Mexico: I think they have a great shot of making the finals and the Top Ten – I did think only a bad draw kept them out of finals last year. However, their draw isn't that much better this year and they are doing two dances.

15. UNLV: Go Mountain West! Can't put them ahead of New Mexico though . . . I just can't.

16. Nebraska: Great program – if they had made finals in Dance last year I would have been much more inclined to put them in the Top Ten.

17. Illinois: Momentum is going the wrong way but – they certainly have Top Ten potential.

18. Oklahoma: Ditto – just like Illinois they are heading in the wrong direction in the rankings but, a program this strong, they certainly have Top Ten potential.

19. Iowa: I am pretty sure they are not doing the routine they did at the Iowa State Championships here. If they are – well, they better hope their judging panel REALLY liked Minnesota's music last year.

20. Alabama: Shocking – but they really haven't shown much potential in this category.

21. Nevada-Reno: I think Nevada-Reno is the only true longshot here – all of these other teams have shown Top Ten or finalist potential at some time or another.

UDA College Nationals Preview - Division I

With the UDA College Nationals upon us, College Dance Team Central previews the upcoming weekend with predictions from Dave Sanchez from the Dance Team Competitions Yahoo! Group. As moderator of one of the longest running sites devoted to all levels of dance competition, Dave takes a look at the Division I Dance and Hip-Hop squads below.

Please visit the Dance Team Competitions Yahoo! Group Here


I think the California teams separated themselves a little bit last year and, on paper, they should be right back on top. We have eleven returning finalists though and six returning semifinalists. Two former finalists are also competing and so that is everybody but South Alabama who last competed in 2005 – no newcomers in this division at all.

1. Cal-State Fullerton (Pictured): They came back strong last year and I, again, think their toughest competition will come from Long Beach State University. They had a great routine last year and as long as they can match that – they should be hoisting another trophy for SoCal.

2. Long Beach St: They struggled a little bit last year and still ended up all the way in 2nd. I don't know why they had so many issues with polishing their routine but, even then, they should be right back at the top with a good shot to win it all with a cleaner performance.

3. Sam Houston State: They kind of took their foot off the gas pedal last year after winning it all in 2005. They have always have great execution and they have never been worse than 4th in the past five years.

4. (SW) Missouri State: Another great taping score which didn't mean as much as it should have last year. Fourth place is their highest finish since 2000 – let's see if they can match that.

5. Delaware: Delaware has been in the Top Five for five of the last six years and even the year they were 7th – I thought they should have finished higher. I look for them to be in contention again.

6. SE Louisiana: They have been a little erratic in the Dance division – soaring as high as 3rd place in 2003 and 2006 but then missing finals in 2001 and 2005. Tough to predict how they will\ do without more information.

7. Hofstra University: Hofstra had been a solid presence in the Top Five until last year when they had a great contemporary routine that just did not go over well with the judges. I wish they would continue along in that vein and pump up the difficulty a little bit – they had my favorite dance in Division 1 – with the possible exception of Fullerton – they just need to show off dance technique a little more.

8. George Mason: George Mason had their highest finish ever last year and they have been very slowly and steadily moving up the ranks. It is hard to pick them this low because they definitely have Top Five potential but all of the teams that I have ranked above them (with the exception of Missouri State) have all shown the ability to soar into the Top Three. I hope the Masonettes make me regret picking them so low – they have finished higher than 8th every year since 2001 so I am taking a risk here.

9. James Madison: A great debut last year in 8th place – there are just a lot of really good teams that have shown more potential in recent years.

10. Northern Iowa: I feel a lot better about UNI now that I know they are doing a different Dance for Nationals than they did for the Iowa State competition. After patiently competing in semifinals for at least five years they finally broke into finals last year in 10th place. I could see them repeating that finish – but not much more. They are good though.

11. St. John's: An overrated 3rd in 2005 and then they don't make finals in 2006. There are not too many of the remaining teams that St. John's record of recent success but I think they will end up back at the low end of the finalist pack where they were in 2003 and 2004.

12. Oakland University: They were a solid 7th last year. After a long slow fall from 2nd place in 2001, they finally reversed the trend and made some forward progress in 2006. It is a tough crowd ahead of them though.

13. Illinois-Chicago: It has been a long time since the glory days and they haven't competed in Dance since 2003 but they still have some pedigree.

14. Howard University: They had a strong debut last year – it was just that the choreography was kind of odd for a UDA competition – it kind of looked like an old school Team Performance routine. But, they had a lot of talented dancers and if they conformed their look a little more to what UDA wants to see – they could make it into finals. Dance technique was pretty good – better than a few of the teams that finished ahead of them last year.

15. Northern Arizona: They always make finals – every time they have competed since 2000. They have had two years off though and the competition has gotten a lot tougher since then.


16. Wisconsin-Milwaukee: They have had a hard time making it out of the semifinal round -- but they have lots of Nationals experience and a high score in taping.

17. Fordham: They were looking for a coach earlier this year so I am not sure they can break back into finals.

18. Southern Illinois: Two years in a row they have been in semis – this a tough crowd to try to break into finals with.

19. Duquesne: After four years in the Open Division and not making finals they step up to Division 1. It doesn't getting any easier here.

20. South Alabama: They have only been competing every other year and they still have not made finals.


This division will continue to be the death of me. Last year this was actually very closely matched – at least in my eyes. We have five returning finalists (there were only six finalists in 2006) and five returning semifinalists. We have one former finalist returning and four teams making their Division 1 Hip-Hop debuts.

1. Long Beach State (Pictured): As long as they make finals I will be ahead of where I was last year when the team I picked in first place – yes that would be you Missouri State Sugar Bears – didn't even make finals. With Fullerton not competing Long Beach State should have the talent to win it all. Or at least come close.

2. Southeast Louisiana: After a rough showing in 2005, SE Louisiana came back with vengeance in 2006. I don't think they can match the talent level that I expect from Long Beach St. –- but they are good.

3. Hofstra: They have never been worse than 2nd and I think they had a fairly clear win last year. They did well in their most recent competition but I think they will have to step it up to retain their title.

4. Delaware: I am picking them 4th again but they should definitely be up there.

5. James Madison: They had a solid debut last year and I look for them to keep themselves in the Top Five in 2007.

6. St. Joseph's: Never worse than 4th and they only do Hip-Hop. Problem is – the competition keeps getting tougher.

7. (SW) Missouri State: I am going to give them another chance even though they have a bad draw and even though they just about single-handedly cost me the College Challenge last year. Don't make me regret my faith in you, Sugar Bears.

8. St. John's: I don't know what happened to them last year but I hope they bounce back to their 2005 level.

9. Oakland University: They took 5th in 2005 and they have been a consistent presence in the finals in the Dance division.

10. Howard University: They had a pretty decent debut last year in the Dance division. Even though their routine was not really in a UDA-acceptable style – they showed a lot of promise – certainly enough promise to break into the Top Ten here – as long as they kept a close eye on what is "in" at UDA.

Also competing:

11. Southern Illinois: They were 8th in 2005.

12. Illinois Chicago: They were 9th in 2005.

13. Wisconsin-Milwaukee: That 2004 title sure looks like a long time ago now.

14 . Fordham: They let me down in 2006. They had such a great stage presence in 2005 and, you know, they are from the Bronx. I thought they were going to be a shoo-in for Hip-Hop finals. But no. First Jennifer Lopez, then the Yankees and now the Fordham dance team. I'm telling you, the Bronx owes me.

15. Northern Arizona: They are actually a good team – and they have had some success at this competition -- it is just that there are no pushovers in this division.

UDA College Nationals Preview - Open Division

With the UDA College Nationals upon us, College Dance Team Central previews the upcoming weekend with predictions from Dave Sanchez from the Dance Team Competitions Yahoo! Group. As moderator of one of the longest running sites devoted to all levels of dance competition, Dave takes a look at the Open Division Dance and Hip-Hop squads below.

Please visit the Dance Team Competitions Yahoo! Group Here


Again, this pretty much looks like a two-team race for the National Championship although Lindenwood might argue that they are going to have something to say about it after their 2nd place finish in taping. Lots of great teams looking to step up if either or both of the Top Two slip up (although neither of them will). There are twelve returning finalists, five returning semifinalists and one other former finalist. Seven teams are making Open Dance division debuts (or they haven't been here since 2000).

1. Orange Coast College: This is tough but I think Orange Coast will return to the top spot in 2007. They have tremendous talent and last year they were a little shaky in finals and that cost them the title. In prior years it didn't really matter so much if they were shaky because their talent level still carried the day – but St. Thomas has clearly taken way that margin of error for OCC. This is by no means a shoo-in – OCC has the tendency to take too many chances in choreography and while they earn points with some jaw-dropping talent – they also lose points with occasionally lax execution. OCC can't afford to do the latter if they want to reclaim the Open Dance title.

2. St. Thomas (Pictured): Basically every one who has seen their routine this year has raved about it and I am sure they have picked up the pace from what was a fantastic show in 2006. I think St. Thomas is strong in a lot of the areas where Orange Coast is a little weak – namely execution – and, on paper and without seeing either routine, they probably have a little advantage in choreography as well – certainly on a "team" basis. I know they have continued to progress as dancers in leaps and bounds but I still don't think they can match up head to head with the OCC dancers. Still, they will probably execute better and if it is better enough – they will certainly repeat as Open Division champions.

3. Lindenwood: They were 3rd in prelims last year and 2nd in taping. They seem like a pretty solid bet to finally move up afte three straight years in 4th place.

4. St. Cloud St: They had been slowly dropping down the rankings before moving back up to 7th place last year. A good showing for them at Mall of America.

5. Minnesota-Moorhead: Even thought it is only one week before Nationals – those Mall of America results haven't been as sure-fire as I might expect. This team didn't do well in taping either so I am hoping last week's result wasn't a fluke.

6. North Dakota St: They have been rock solid right about 5th or 6th place for the last few years and the competition really hasn't changed.

7. Avila University: Before dropping to 8th place last year they were a consistent presence in the Top Five. I am a little worried that last year might have just been an off-year and that they will be right back in the Top Five.

8. St. Benedict: I would have liked to see them do better at Mall of America – they have been in the bottom half of the Top Ten for the last four years.

9. California Lutheran: Burst on to the scene last year in 13th place and I actually thought they were a little better than thought. They needed to dance with a little more confidence and hopefully last year's success will have given them that.

10. Wisconsin Eau-Claire: They have been in the Top Ten forever. I say they barely hold on to their Top Ten spot.

11. Central Missouri: Just like in Hip-Hop – I hope that taping score wasn't a total fluke.

12. College of New Jersey: Good taping score and a breakthrough finish in the Top Ten last year.

13. William Jewell College: They haven't been consistent but they have at least made the finals in three of the last five years.

14. Wagner College: I would have liked to have seen a better taping score. In 2006 they were 11th in taping and 12th at Nationals. This year they were 28th in taping and they don't have a great draw.

15. Columbus State: Last time they were here they made finals – I remember this team having a lot of fire.


16. Concordia College: I like that they compete a lot but they still haven't shown that they can be a finalist team.

17. Long Island-CW Post: One finalist showing (and barely at that) in the last six years. They have a lot of experience though.

18. Indiana Southeast: They got a decent draw and they scored well in taping.

19. Christopher Newport: Great taping score but not a good performance order draw for a new team.

20. Villa Julie: This routine was outscored by their own Hip-Hop routine just a few weeks ago – still I feel like they have a decent shot at finals.

21. West Chester: They have a year of UDA Nationals experience under their belts and almost a better taping score than the rest of the field.

22. Northern Michigan: You figure a team from Northern Michigan should have at least a decent shot at some talent.

23. Assumption College: The name Assumption has a lot of cache – maybe they can pick up a few points off that.

24. Georgia College: They have some recent experience at Nationals.

25. Northern Kentucky: They have been away for a while but they were 9th place in 2001 – the last time they made finals.

26. Endicott College: They have competed three of the last four years.

27. Robert Morris: They only did Hip-Hop last year but a little experience always helps. I am actually slightly worried about this team.

28. Scranton: Oh, it would be very funny if they won – or even finished in the Top Ten.


Twenty competing teams in the Hip-Hop divisions with eight returning finalists, five returning semi-finalists and one other team that was a finalist in 2005. Seven teams are making their Hip Hop division debut.

1. Orange Coast College: After two years of trying to get the right style, Orange Coast College hit it out of the park with a look that totally absolved them of their prior sins of being too jazzy in this division. As long as they reasonably close to last years style and far away from their 2005 style (Cabaret), they should repeat as Open Division Hip-Hop Champions. Don't' really see them falling out of the Top Three in any case unless they really misfire in choreography and music.

2. University of St. Thomas: I heard a lot of raves about St. Thomas in Dance from Mall of America but virtually nothing about their Hip-Hop. St. Thomas pulled it together in the last week last year to pull ahead of Gustavus Adolphus but I don't know if they have same focus in Hip-Hop like they do in the Dance division. I am a little tempted to drop them to 4th place but I am still upset with the Missouri teams from last year. You know, fool me once . . .

3. Lindenwood: I really liked Lindenwood's Hip-Hop last year and their strong finish in taping would seem to bode well for them this year.

4. Avila University: The 2005 Champions dropped all the way to 6th place last year and that was a surprise. I look for them to move back up the rankings in 2006.

5. St. Cloud State: St. Cloud State makes their Hip-Hop debut and I expect them to do quite well. They have an extremely solid program and have been scoring well this year.

6. Columbus State: Columbus State comes back after a year off in 2006 and they should make the finals again. This was a good Hip-Hop team with good energy and they beat a lot of teams in 2005 that still made the finals in 2006.

7. William Jewell: They have been consistent in Hip-Hop even if they have dropped off in the Dance division. Not a lot of teams below them with their history of success.

8. Central Missouri: Yet another Missouri team. I have to give them a Top Ten nod based on their high taping score although I will say that I have not heard great things about them. I hope they don't make me look like – I don't know – a mule – for picking them in the Top Ten.

9. Long Island-CW Post: They have been a solid presence in the Top Ten in Open Hip-Hop and I don't see any reason for them to stop now.

10. College of New Jersey: It came down to the College of New Jersey and Wisconsin Eau Claire for my final spot in the Top Ten. New Jersey scored higher in taping and it just seems like a team from New Jersey should be better in Hip-Hop than a team from Wisconsin. I apologize for my regional bias.


11. Wiconsin Eau Claire: They took 10th last year.

12. Villa Julie College: This would be my upset special team. At least they get good coverage on their college website: I think this team is in its third year and they have been competing on the Star Systems circuit – their Hip-Hop routine just outscored their Dance routine.

13. California Lutheran: They did well in Dance last year – I actually thought they were a little underscored – and this is a growing program.

14. Robert Morris: They have one year of UDA competition under their belts.

15. Georgia College: They have a fair amount of UDA Nationals experience.

16. Northern Kentucky: I keep expecting this team to do better – based on their geography.

17,West Chester: They got a little experience last year.

18.Endicott College: They haven't yet made the jump into finals in any division.

19. Missouri Valley College: I actually picked them 8th last year in Hip-Hop and then they really let me down. Plus they took 31st in taping.

20. Parkland College: They are from Illinois and they have a very young roster – which isn't such a bad thing. They are just new to the competition: Parkland Website

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

MSU Dance Team Skipping Break

By John Tramontana

It's a challenging schedule, but these women say they're up to the task.

"We practice over winter break six hours a day to train for it," said team co-captain Micha Hickey.

They're members of the m-s-u dance team and they're getting ready to compete against dozens of the nation's best in a collegiate dance competition next month in Orlando, Florida.

It can be grueling work. The team balances practice with classes, with many of the dancers pre-med and law majors. Adding to the challenge is the fact that the team doesn't even have a formal coach.

"We do a lot of our own choreography in terms of costuming, make-up, the actual dance, the music choices. all that goes to us," Hickey said.

And it's that work that keeps the women in town for the holidays, aside of a short recess when they go to visit their families.

"You make the commitment and you love being here," Hickey added.The girls sort of become your family so over break being around them isn't necessarily making you homesick."

The team will perform two dances in January's competition. As for the routine itself...

"It's really fast, upbeat so you're going, going, going. there's always different things going on," said co-captain Gina Dattolo. "Everything's catching your eye and you don't know where to look. that's what you want in a dance."

The women have a bit of a chip on their shoulders too. They didn't finish as high as they would have liked last year so they want to make an impression this time around.

"Obviously to get at least in the top 10." Dattolo said.