College Dance Team Central

Friday, March 09, 2007

UCLA Dance Team Wins Big At Nationals

By Brittni King
The Daily Bruin
March 7, 2007

Almost a year spent in preparation pays off as UCLA squad captures top place for the first time at Las Vegas competition

The 2006-2007 UCLA dance team has made history this year, winning first place at the United Spirit Association’s Collegiate Nationals. The win came in Las Vegas on the weekend of Feb. 12-13, and was the dance team’s first win at the competition.

The best part about the win?

“We beat USC,” captain Christy Delp said.

The road to the championship at the competition was a long one, beginning last April with tryouts. The tryouts to make the team were a two-day process in which prospective members learned a sideline routine to the fight song, and then a routine more focused on dance and technique. These routines were performed on the second day in groups of three, and those who made it to the final round performed a selection of their own. In all, the squad consisted of nine members.

“I feel that with the restricted amount of space we have on the football field and to represent the overall dynamics of the university, nine is a good number,” adviser Mollie Vehling said. “Eleven and we get a little crowded on the football field, seven looks like you are missing people. I like working with odd numbers because then your formations always have a center.”

Once the dancers were determined they began practices in May, and then took a few months off. They picked it back up in August with a week-long bootcamp. During this bootcamp, they worked with trainer Derrick Baker for two hours from 7-9 a.m., then began learning routines.

All of these practices culminated in the dance team’s performances at the football and basketball games.

A typical day for the dance team at a football game lasts 12 hours. The team meets to take a bus to the Rose Bowl six hours before the game. Once there they run through the routines on the field, and two hours before the game they perform a pre-game show. Once all this preparation is done, the game goes for another four to five hours, in which the team is constantly performing.

Basketball has a shorter time span, but is no less important to the team. The dance team meets at the Wooden Center an hour and a half before the game to go over the halftime routine, then head across to Pauley Pavilion to go to the game.

During football season the team travels to all the away games, and during basketball season it travels to tournaments and away games that are nationally televised. However, it does not travel to away Pac-10 games, with the exception being the USC game.

“It’s a Pac-10 rule,” Vehling said.

Vehling and the team arrange all of this travel. During the month of March, the team is on the road for most of the time, depending on the basketball team’s success.

For the competition, the team added six additional members this year. These additional members auditioned later in the year, at an audition where anywhere from zero to six members can be chosen. These members were added to provide more depth to the team at competition.

Brette Markowitz, one of the dance team members, choreographed the routine for competition. The team performed to “He’s a Dream,” from the movie “Flashdance.”

The song has both fast and slow sections, which was a good balance for the team.

“It was a really fun routine to do,” Delp said.

The team had to bring its A-game, with only one shot to make it to the final round. After competing in the large division, the dance team finished in the top five and made it to the final round, where it finished first in the division.

“Once you get off the stage, it’s a good feeling,” Delp said. “We hadn’t watched the other teams. We didn’t know how they did until after we found out we won. It was an amazing surprise.”

The accomplishment was one that the tight-knit unit shared together. The team has also had to share in the fight against preconceived notions that people have about dancers.

“The team is really cohesive this year,” Delp said. “Besides sharing all their memories, the team has to fight the stereotype of a not-so-smart dancer/cheerleader. We all got into UCLA on our academics, not on our dancing for the team,” Delp said.


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