College Dance Team Central

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Dancing Queens Support Fellow Athletes

They hold the throne to more titles than other CSUF sports teams

By: Elyse Marozick
The Daily Titan

They are seven-time national champions going for their eighth title this January, as well as defending champions at USA Nationals in Las Vegas, and they aren't the baseball team. This is the Cal State Fullerton Dance Team, and until now, have had little recognition on campus.

As one of the relatively newer athletic organizations at CSUF, the dance team holds more championship titles under its belt than any other sports team on campus. They have also appeared on ESPN numerous times in the United Dance Association's competition held in Florida every year.

Headed by two CSUF alumni, Jennie Volkert ('97) and Sam Shen ('98), the dance team held the second and final round of auditions Tuesday night. The auditions brought out 25 hopefuls, and by the end of the night, 11 had been named members of the dance team. The team has six returning members and five freshmen, making it an extremely young team.

"We have great talent on our team this year, but we still have a lot of work ahead of us," captain Kenndra Alvarez said.

Alvarez, 20, is a three-year member of the dance team and has been named captain for the second year in a row.

Competing in Division 1, the girls have some big shoes to fill, hoping to win their eighth title this year. The girls have been hard at work since last April when the first auditions were held. In August, they attended a pro-dance camp in Palm Springs with professional teams, including the San Diego Chargers' girls. The dance camp recognizes the best of the best in the college dance world and invites only five college dance teams from across the entire country. CSUF has been invited four times and is hoping next year to be invited when the camp moves to Chicago.

Alvarez said practices have been underway every Tuesday and Thursday night since the girls got back from camp in August, but they are stepping it up a notch by beginning Sunday night practices this weekend. The team has just over a month to learn and perfect a routine that will hopefully be the winning ticket to the national competitions in January and February. The routine is submitted by video with thousands of other applicants so CSUF's team has to be outstanding to get noticed.

"The last week in October is our taping week and it's very much like hell-week for football teams," Volkert, a coach for the past 10 years, said.

From the thousands of videos submitted, judges select 25 teams to invite to the 2008 UDA Nationals in Florida from Jan. 17 to 21. The top two routines win an all-expenses paid trip to Florida for the entire team. CSUF has been one of the lucky two in the past. The team hopes to achieve top two again this year. Once in Florida, the preliminary competition narrows the teams down to the top 10 and then airs the finals on ESPN, where CSUF has come out on top seven times in the last eight years.

In February, the team will also attend the USA National Competition in Las Vegas where the girls are two-time reigning champions. They hope to keep their first place title there, as well. There they will have a run-in with their hometown rivals from Cal State Long Beach. The CSUF dance team has yet to lose to its rivals and hopes to keep it that way this year.

"Often times there is a bitter idea there [in Las Vegas] because the winner of that event gets West Coast bragging rights; so it's pretty intense," Volkert said.

The dancers' season lasts nine months out of the year and every day finds them busier than the last. Not only do they begin preparing for nationals in August, but they also find time to participate in many events throughout the community. Most recently, they performed for CSUF's 50th anniversary celebration and the OC Heart Walk, a charity event held last Sunday at the Irvine Spectrum. Their performance Sunday made it the fourth year in a row the dance team has participated in the event.

The girls also support many of the other athletic teams on campus. They attend every men's and women's basketball home game, show support at some of the men's soccer games and were asked to come out and show support at CSUF baseball games last season.

"The girls are great," Shen said. "They workout together, work really hard together and are so well-rounded. Many of them work as well as dance ... they don't get nearly as much credit as they should."

"The team bonds so well and we have no drama and no problems," Alvarez said.

Past dance team members have even gone on to have professional careers in dance. Most recently, the team had two girls named to the Laker girls and Clipper girls, Volkert and Shen said.

New freshmen are excited for their first season on an award-winning dance team. They anticipate doing well in competition, but know they all need to work together to make it happen.

"You only have that one chance with the video," Lauren Hambrick, 18, said.

Even with all the hard work in store for the next month, the girls are looking forward to supporting their fellow athletic teams as well.

"I love that we cheer at the games," Sabrina Supler, 17, said. "I cannot wait for the games."

The CSUF dance team will be performing Thursday in a Los Angeles County Fair parade highlighting college mascots.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Kyle Lavergne Blazes Trail With Ragin' Jazz

Let's hear it for 'THE BOY'

By Herman Fuselier
The Daily Advertiser

Kyle Lavergne likes to remind people that he doesn't bite, he's not mean and he's nothing special. Yet the first and only male on UL's Ragin' Jazz dance team is saddled with loads of attention.

Lavergne recalls one intoxicated UL fan yelling obscenities at him during a basketball game until the drunk was escorted from the Cajundome. Lavergne knows fans are pointing and whispering as he kicks and tumbles, surrounded by 20 females.

But Lavergne only dances harder.

"I'm pretty sure people say things, but they've never gotten in my face," said Lavergne, 20, a graduate of Carencro High School. "They try to mock you, but I'm confident in what I do and it doesn't matter. I just do my job. This is what I love to do."

Lavergne's love of dance has him in his third year with the Ragin' Jazz, the UL dance team that performs at home football, basketball and volleyball games, along with other university and alumni events. Lavergne has been one contributor in the team's success, which includes three top 10 rankings at the Universal Dance Association camp at the University of Alabama. The team will compete for the national title in dance and hip hop at the UDA championships in January.

Lavergne was team captain last year. But to teammates, he's "The Boy."

"I always come in before practice and draw all over the chalkboard," Lavergne said. "I'll write 'I love my ladies" and it says 'Love, The Boy.'

"They're my ladies and I'm The Boy."

"The Boy" has been interested in dance since the age of 3, when his mother took him to a dance studio. But the studio required ballet and Lavergne recalls his mom saying, "You're a boy. You're not taking ballet classes."

By sixth grade, Lavergne was a gymnastics power tumbler and began dancing in local studios. He continues to do studio work and even performs with the Lafayette Ballet Theater. Lavergne recently was cast for LBT's upcoming production ofThe Nutcracker production for the seventh time.

Like his teammates, Lavergne maintains a rigorous dance and exercise schedule that lasts year round. In addition to Ragin' Jazz events, most team members dance in studios and practice during the summer for camp competitions.

Lavergne can't imagine doing anything else.

"It's kind of like anything you have a passion for. It's something in you that you love to do, want to do and couldn't live without," he said.

"There's a lot of hard work and a lot of hours. I dance seven days a week this year. It gets to be a pain, with school and work. I wouldn't do it if I didn't love it."

Michelle Bernard, team choreographer and UL's spirit group coordinator, knows Lavergne's love of dance. But she was afraid "The Boy" would steal attention from the girls, resulting in a team rift.

That division hasn't happened.

"It's been goodbecause he pushes the girls, because they don't want Kyle to be the attention getter," Bernard said. "It pushes him in areas where he may lack a little.

"It's been great. Everybody at the university knows him. If they don't know his name, they know him as the boy on the dance team."

Chloe Angelle, the team's current captain, said Lavergne has been an inspiration. Angelle has known him since high school.

"When he was in high school, it was somewhat of a controversy because it had never been done before in this area," Angelle said. "I'm definitely glad to see that it happened. I respect him so much.

"Not only is he an awesome and sensational dancer, but he proves a point. He shows you do what you want to do. He deserves to be here."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

UC Dance Team Helping One Of Its Own Beat Leukemia

An open letter to Bearcat fans from squad

CINCINNATI--Recently a member of the UC Dance Team, Kristin Drew, was diagnosed with Leukemia. Kristin grew up in Oak Hills and then continued her education at the University of Cincinnati. In 2005, she made the UC Dance Team as a freshman and has become a dear member of the Bearcat family. She is an outstanding young lady with a bright future ahead of her. As always, Kristin continues to make jokes, laughs a lot and is in very high spirits. She is determined to beat this! Her attitude is absolutely positive and she should be an inspiration to us all.

If everything goes as planned, Kristin should have her treatment completed within two-and-a-half years. We are certain that she is going to make it through this and be an example for so many. However, we know that the road may be rough and the medical expenses involved in something like this can be overwhelming. Therefore, an account has been established called the KRISTIN DREW FOUNDATION where donations can be made to help the Drew family. The University of Cincinnati is working very closely with the dance team to help raise as much money as possible to contribute to the care and treatment of this young student-athlete.

UC has two upcoming events where donations for Kristin will be accepted. A booth will be set up at the Homecoming Game on Oct. 13 to collect donations. There will also be donation boxes at the entrances. In addition, proceeds from Bearcats Fan Jam, the official kick-off to the basketball season, will be donated to the Drew family. Admission for the event, scheduled for Oct. 20 is $5.

If you would like to make a donation to help Kristin Drew beat Leukemia you can also do one of the following:
1. A donation can be made at any Fifth Third Bank
2. Mail a check/money order to the Drew Family:
Donald & Susan Drew
5609 Windridge Drive
Cincinnati, Ohio 45248

Checks should be made payable to Kristin Drew Foundation

A donation of any size will be such a big help to the Drew family. Let's help her beat this!


The UC Dance Team Coaches: Lisa Spears, Cynthia Oxley, Sarah Judge & Morgan Heflin
Team Members: Jennifer Bernier, Chelsey Billock, Libby Cates, Michelle Ciccarello, Jamie Cobb, Samantha Cobb, Tiffany Cochrane, Morgan Deitsch, Julie Dota, Lindsey Gilkey, Emily Greenstone, Kayla Greenstone, Kelsey Hamada, Brittany Jones, Julia Lamey, Jenny Malaga, Chandra Miller, Hanah Patterson, Emily Riesenberg, Samantha Spieles, Anya Spinazzola, Courtney Ward, Carrie Wiesman, Katie Ziegler & Megan Zugelder

Sunday, September 23, 2007

On Game Day, Not All Athletes Wear Cleats

Dance, cheer teams bring energy, color to the field

By Amanda Walck
The Campus Press

Senior Jacqueline Brumley practices her routine during halftime of the Buffalo s 16-6 loss against Florida State on Saturday, Sept. 15. Brumley is an Integrated Physiology Major and is a first year member of the Cheer Squad. (CP Photo/Eli Lieberman)

At every home football game, Folsom Field is filled with fans ready to cheer the Buffs to victory.

With all the focus on the football team and their performance, people can sometimes forget about the other varsity athletes that play a huge role on game day. They are perhaps the biggest Buff fans of all -- the CU Cheer Squad and the CU Express Dance Team.

During each game, the cheer and dance teams support the Buffs and energize the fans. They thrive on the excitement of the stadium, doing what they do best in front of a huge crowd.

The cheerleaders, dance team, and Chip the mascot are collectively known as The Colorado Spirit.

For many of the cheerleaders, the beginning of the game is the most exhilarating.

"When Ralphie runs, the crowd gets so excited and pumped up. It's such a great tradition that we get to be a part of," said Amanda Yates, a senior who has been on the cheer squad for four years.

Games that involve low scores can be especially hard for The Colorado Spirit because the crowd can at times lose focus.

"When we're losing, the whole morale of the fans goes down. They disengage, and it can be really frustrating when we try to get them back into it," said Allison Meine, a senior who has also been on the cheer squad for four years.

The teams do know how to get a crowd on their feet, especially when they have something to cheer about. Members of both squads have been practicing their sport since a young age, and have a lot of experience in putting on a show.

"Pretty much everyone on the team started dancing at like age three," said Liz Harris, second year coach of the dance team.

Not only do both squads have a passion for being in front of a crowd, but they also put a lot of hard work into their sport. Each team has three-hour practices three days of the week and two-hour workouts the other two days. Practices are even more thorough in preparation for games.

"Practice is always more focused the week before a game. We work on time-outs, stunts, periods, all of it," Yates said.

Many of the girls on the dance team have recently been introduced to the rigors of a home game week. Out of the 16 girls on the team this year, 12 are freshmen. Although they have a lot of new faces, the team is looking forward to the new season.

"I have a really talented team this year," Harris said.

In addition to appearing at the home football games, the dance team performs at volleyball games and at men's and women's basketball games.

"We like the football games, but basketball is much more personal. Plus we get to dance at halftime," said Jamie Gordon, sophomore dance team member.

The male fans of the dance team seem to have the most fun at the football games.

"They'll be like 'that one's my favorite!' They'll even count it out and say '5-6-7-8!' Some guys get really into it," Harris said.

However, some guys take their love for the dance team ladies a little farther.

"It can be a little creepy. Guys like to throw us things with their numbers on them," sophomore Lauren Giangregorio said.

In addition to supporting CU teams, both the cheer squad and the dance team compete nationally every year. In 2007, the cheerleaders will be going to the National Cheerleading Association championship in Daytona Beach, Fla., and the dance team will attend the National Dance Association competition.

"Competitions are my favorite part of the season. I'd say probably 70 percent of us are that way," junior Justin Gibbs said.

To raise money for the squad, the dance team shot a calendar, which will be available before the end of the football season.

Competitions and games aside, the role of the cheer squad at CU encompasses something much more important.

"We have a huge presence in the community, and we have been able represent CU in such a positive way. That is so important to our program," Head Coach Travis Prior said.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dancers Strut Their Stuff At UNC Tryouts

By: Sarah Frier
The Daily Tar Heel

While growing up in Chapel Hill, junior Mandy Brannon always wanted to be a part of the UNC dance team.

"I came here for this," Brannon said after strutting, leaping and turning across the floor of Eddie Smith Field House on Wednesday with 45 other dancers at the team's open tryouts.

It was her third time auditioning.

Dancers are required to have jazz, pom, and hip-hop dance skills.

But the first part of the tryout focused on traditional dance technique.

"Although the fall tryouts are open, the requirements remain the same," coach Mark Lyczowski said.

Lyczowski said he judges the girls on flexibility, technique, strength and style.

"People usually only see what we do on the field and court," assistant coach Amber Rogers said. "They don't realize we compete and do technical shows."

Because the new dance Web site listed requirements, dancers were better prepared this year, Lyczowski said.

Even so, a few hastily taught each other to pirouette just before the auditions. Others walked away.

Most dancers who showed up for the tryouts, however, said they have been in the business since they could walk.

"They're at a level that's so elite," said Brannon, who has danced for most of her life. "You have to bring it."

The dancers will know by this morning whether they will make the cut.

No list will be posted. Dancers will either be e-mailed or told personally whether they're in.

Not many dancers get on the team through the open tryouts.

"The number of people we accept really depends on who shows up," Lyczowski said.

For the past three fall auditions, that number has been zero. The dance team usually selects its members after spring auditions, which are by invitation.

In order to get an invite, dancers must e-mail a resume with their dance experience to the coach after their admission to the University.

But the team still regularly holds tryouts in the fall for those who weren't around in the spring or weren't trained well enough to make the team.

"I owe it to the University to continue to try to find the most talented dancers," Lyczowski said.

UNC's dance team ranks first in the ACC and third in the nation.

And of the team's 16 members, 10 earned an All-American title at a national dance camp.

"We've been very fortunate to get a lot of talent on the team without recruitment," Lyczowski said.

Freshman Jane Chaffee, one of the most recent additions to the team, traveled this summer to the dance camp.

"Its a great group of girls," Chaffee said.

But while waiting to be called up to dance for the coaches, junior Katie Hukill admitted that she felt a little intimidated.

"There's a lot of really talented girls," Hukill said, adding that although she's been doing ballet her entire life she feels a bit unqualified. "It's a little discouraging because I don't have the jazz experience."

After two hours of technical evaluation, Lyczowski came back with a list of the cuts, and several formerly optimistic dancers went home. The remaining few were taught a combo to evaluate style.

"I take it as a learning experience," Brannon said after her number wasn't called. "You don't make it, and you come back."

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Idaho State Bengal Dancers Feature

National champions, super fundraisers, community supporters, oh yea, they're pretty good looking

By Todd Itami
ISU Bengal

The 2007 USA Hip Hop champions are one of ISU's most valuable assets. These 17 girls are truly amazing.

It can be conceived that perhaps in some remote notion of the idea of the University's dance team that they are just a group of really good looking girls who also know how to dance. This somewhat chauvinistic stereotype is immediately put to rest once you put forth any effort to discover the true nature of the group.

The first thing that stood out to me with the group is the intense level of physical and mental effort put into the team. Not only do the dancers work-out, take dance classes, and teach dance on their own, but they are required to practice another 9 hours with the team (12 hours during competition season).

On top of team dance practices, there are also four hours a weak of team work outs including weight training, spinning, ballet, and aerobics! Add this to the week-long summer dance camp and showing up a month before school starts for daily practices, and you have one of the hardest working groups of students on campus.

If we were to end the dialog here, I would hope that you would be sufficiently impressed, but there's more.

We could all take a page out of the fundraising book of the Bengal dancers. Each girl is expected to contribute to the fundraising effort. By day one of school, the dancers had already raised some $11,000 for this academic year. With shirts, calendars, performances, commercial appearances, kids clinics, choreography workshops with high schools, and a end of year dance concert, this team is the top fundraising group pound-for-pound on campus.

But they get a scholarship right? Well, yes, they do get a $750 scholarship each semester. I find it ironic that most of the girls have fundraised that much before midterm of the first semester. In fact, each girl is furthermore required to pay several hundred dollars in equipment and other dance related expenses.

Not only do they win national championships and place runner-up in the national NDA competition in Florida for the last three years, but they are SMART! Bengal dancers are academics. Accounting, dental hygiene, radiographic science, and nutrition are just a few of the competitive programs that Bengal dancers graduate in each year.

The student coach Lindsay Tucker for example, was accepted to Harvard as an undergrad and is currently a doctorial candidate in the Audiology department.

Dana Smith, owner of one of the largest and most successful dance studios in Pocatello, DSDS said, "A lot of my girls aspire to be on the Bengal Dance team from a young age." The dancers are definitely a community influence interacting with high school and youth groups, not to mention other community organizations. The Bengal Dancers are an invaluable tool for recruiting and improving Idaho State University.

So much more can be said about this dance team. I am just totally impressed by the level of dedication to our university by these girls. If we only had more students like the dancers.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Georgia Red Hotz To Compete At Nationals

By Marianne McGoldrick

The Red Hotz, the University's competitive dance team, already has received a bid to attend the National Dance Association (NDA) College Nationals competition in April.

The 12 members of the Red Hotz dance team traveled to Myrtle Beach, S.C., the weekend of Aug. 17 to attend the "NDA Cheer and Danz Camp."

Teams traveled across the nation from universities such as Penn State and NYU to take part in the weekend's rigorous dance schedule.

Not only did the Red Hotz walk away with a bid to Nationals but also four individual nominations for All-American titles.

Team captain Kate Nichols, a junior from Marietta, and Katelyn Andrews, also a junior from Marietta, were named All-Americans.

"We had 11 hours in the car, 25 hours of dancing and several hours of working past fatigue and frustration," Nichols said. "It all resulted in All-American titles, a spirit stick, a blue ribbon, a bid to Nationals and, most importantly, learning how to support and respect each other and have fun together."

The Red Hotz continue to be the only team in their division to compete without a coach.

"A lot of people don't know that we are student-led. We don't have a coach," said lieutenant Lauren Kelley, a sophomore from Roswell. "It can definitely be a challenge, but a good challenge."

Nichols agreed.

"Some may think that not having a coach is a disadvantage. But honestly, it teaches all of us how to use our own individual strengths to best benefit the team," she said.

Although competitions do not begin until the spring, the Red Hotz already are planning for the upcoming season.

"I would really like UGA to know our name better this year through more performances around campus and Athens," said co-captain Orian Edelman, a senior from Roswell.

Last year, along with participating in regular competitions and placing fourth at the NDA Nationals, the team performed at University philanthropic events such as HERO and Greek Grind.

"We have 12 very talented dancers that love to perform and represent UGA on a regional and national level," Nichols said.

College of New Jersey Dance Team Granted Club Status

By Kelli Plasket
The Signal

The Student Government Association at the College of New Jersey granted the College Dance Team official club status.

The Dance Team was established in 1998, Cynthia Wittig, junior elementary education and psychology major and member of the Dance Team, said.

Two years ago, the Dance Team was given an athletic team status, Wittig said. Then one year ago, the organization was cut as an athletic team. The team requested recognition as a team club at the meeting so it can perform at campus events and games.

"We are very involved in the campus, and we are a spirit squad so that means that we support the campus in many ways," Wittig said.

In the past, the Dance Team has performed at football games, basketball games and other campus and community events. The Dance Team participates in a benefit show called "Dancers for Cancer" and competes on a national level, Wittig said.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

UVSC Combines Cheer, Dance Teams Into One

By Laura Hancock
Deseret Morning News

OREM — Be Aggressive! Be, Be Aggressive! B-E A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E!

Utah Valley State College administrators have aggressively altered the school's cheer and dance teams, by combining them under a Spirit Squad, creating a new coaching position to lead the Spirit Squad and eliminating another coaching position.

"What spurred it was the university status," said Phil Clegg, UVSC's director of student leadership and activities.

UVSC will become Utah Valley University on July 1, 2008, and Clegg said he wanted to be ahead of the game, so to speak.

Previously, the Dance Team and Cheer Squads held practices separately and couldn't successfully coordinate entertainment at sports games, Clegg said.

Crowds at UVSC games ranged from 600 to 4,000 people. Administrators hope the new Spirit Squad will draw more people to games, said Bob Rasmussen, assistant vice president over student life.

"I think there's a desire to have a considerable crowd of 4,000 until we get into a conference," Rasmussen said.

In 2002, the NCAA granted UVSC provisional Division I status to the 26,000-student school, but UVSC hasn't yet been invited to join a conference.

Cheer Squad coach Jeannette DeGraffenried had scheduled tryouts for next year's cheer team in April, but UVSC administrators put the brakes on them while Clegg researched cheerleading teams at other colleges and universities in Utah.

In that time, a handful of cheerleaders told the Deseret Morning News that no one communicated to them if there was even going to be a cheerleading squad next year or whether their coach would continue working at UVSC.

"There were some hard feelings," Rasmussen said.

In the end, UVSC and DeGraffenried parted ways.

"I was fired," DeGraffenried said in a message left to the Morning News.

Rasmussen denied she was fired.

He said the newly formed Spirit Squad director must work 29 hours a week, including meetings with administrators and student government leaders, and DeGraffenried wasn't interested in the commitment.

"It had nothing to do with me not wanting to work 29 hours a week," DeGraffenried said. "That was what I was already doing, plus some."

DeGraffenried did not return other messages from the newspaper seeking an interview.

Carly Condi, last year's Dance Team coach, is now the director of the Spirit Squad.

UVSC's Spirit Squad will most resemble Weber State and Salt Lake Community College cheer and dance teams, Clegg said.

The Dance Team and Cheer Squad will have 16 students each.

Condi said that practices for Spirit Squad have been productive.

"They're more excited than they've ever been," Condi said.

Many of the Spirit Squad members were dancers or cheerleaders last year.

"We're really happy that it's back," said cheerleader Kayli Oliverson. "We thought it wasn't going to go. Everyone was really sad and writing petitions about it."