College Dance Team Central

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Chico State Dancers Kick Up Energy, Foster Lasting Friendships

By: Sara Nielsen
Media Credit: Robin Epley
The Orion Online

The dancers line up and practice a routine, their feet creating a rhythmic and uniform sound on the hardwood floor. The performance has begun, and the mirror is the audience tonight.

Like super-charged female ninjas with a knack for fluid motion, these women do jumps, turns and moves requiring energy and focus at their dance practice.

These women, with a smooth mojo and love for the stage, make up the Expressions Dance Team.

With 15 members, the team performs at campus sporting events and participates in community activities.

"Most of our dancers have lots of experience and have been dancing since they were between 3 and 6 years old," said Kristin Carmack, the team's co-captain. "Dancers usually try out because they love to dance and want to keep doing it in college."

Tryouts are in the fall, and if a dancer makes the team, it's a nine month commitment, Carmack said.

Throughout the year, the team performs at volleyball, soccer and basketball games.

The women also participate in the Fun Without Alcohol Fair, a high school dance festival and prepare all year for their showcase in April, she said.

When selecting music for routines, team members pick music that is PG so it is appropriate for any performance.

"People get really into it," Carmack said. "Crowds will sing songs during dance routines."

The team primarily performs hip-hop and jazz styles, she said.

Though the squad performs at sporting events, it is not a cheerleading team, Carmack said.

The women only perform at halftime shows rather than doing sideline routines.

"We're very focused on the team, but more focused on the individual dancer," she said. "There is always time to show off. Each person has their time in the spotlight instead of group stunts in cheerleading, and by the end of the year, every dancer has improved."

Along with dance improvement, joining the team also builds friendships.

Everything about Expressions Dance Team makes it worthwhile, said Sam Slack, a sophomore on the team.

Lasting friendships are formed, and some past members and former captains come back to watch the team perform.

And because students run the team, each member has a personal investment.

"I love the girls, the atmosphere and the fact that students do the choreography," said Arianna Ibarra, the team's other co-captain.

Being on the squad is also a way to relieve stress, Ibarra said.

"Dancing is a sense of therapy for me," she said. "Everyone has a way to express themselves, and dancing is something I've done all my life. It never gets boring, and it's always a challenge."

With many members attending school and working at the same time, it's sometimes difficult to juggle it all.

"It gets pretty stressful," said sophomore Amy Muntifering.

She works two jobs, has 16 units and participates on the team.

"Sometimes I think, 'Oh no, I have to go to dance, and I didn't do my homework.' But it's a way to relax and a way of expression," Muntifering said.

The adrenaline rush from performing and the nervousness about getting everything right raises the heart rate, she said.

The dancers on the Expressions Dance Team are dedicated multitaskers. For them, dancing is a priority, and it is never sacrificed even in poor weather.

"We're going to perform tomorrow night," said Carmack, referring to a women's soccer game with a chance of rain. "We've never missed a soccer game yet."