College Dance Team Central

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."


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