College Dance Team Central

Saturday, November 10, 2007

CLU Team Members Handle Coaching Duties Themselves

By Jeffrey Dransfeldt
Photos by Eric Parsons
Ventura County Star

Sabrina Frailich has all the shirts made.

The college coed takes care of finding someone to do the embroidering and a seamstress when one is needed for the costumes; she takes care of the warm-ups and bags.

When it's time for nationals, Frailich buys the makeup and figures out how they'll do their hair.

Everything a coach might do, the members of the California Lutheran University Dance Team do on their own.

It's more work added onto already busy school schedules, but Dance Team members say it's rewarding, as they have watched the program grow from its infancy years ago to be a staple of Cal Lutheran athletics.

"It's hard, because we are self-run, but it is a little more rewarding that we are self-run because at the end of the day we can pat ourselves on the back instead of giving someone else credit for it," Frailich said.

The group has been around for years but became serious and started entering competitions during the 2004-05 year, under the guidance of captain Kaytie St. Pierre, said Kelli Yorita, a senior on this year's team.

It was and still is considered a campus club. Initially, Dance Team members had to find their own practice space and the team developed by word of mouth.

The Dance Team performs at all Cal Lutheran home games for football and basketball. It also participates in other school functions, including a fall carnival and Midnight Madness, which kicks off the basketball season.

"The gym is packed beyond words," Frailich said. "It's a really fun night. That's where a lot of people, if they haven't already heard about us, they hear about us then."

In January, Frailich and her teammates will make their annual appearance at the College Dance Team National Championship at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. The competition is held through the United Dance Association.

There the Dance Team, from Division III Cal Lutheran, will compete with schools from Division II and Division I, programs that have full dance faculty and in which dance is recognized as majors and minors.

Frailich, who is in her second year at Cal Lutheran, said that in January 2006, the team placed 13th in Division III, and this past January the team didn't officially place.

In previous years, the team looked at nationals as fun and a reward for all the hard work they put in on campus. This time, they are taking a different approach as a dance team that has established itself on the Cal Lutheran campus.

"We have an amazing choreographer that came in and is doing our pieces for us to take to nationals," Frailich said. "We're working way harder this year than we did last year as far as technique, actually focusing on our dancing and hoping to take it as far as we can."

Yorita said, "There are a lot of community colleges that are a force to be reckoned with. They are awesome to watch and we are not up at their level."

Teams can perform two dances. The CLU team will perform an open dance with more of a jazz feel and a hip-hop dance. They have hired two choreographers, Sacha Bryant for the open dance and Alex Baron for the hip-hop dance, but have no continuing relationship with them. The choreographers will teach the material and leave.

"We take our own independence and kind of go with it," Frailich said.

No coach also means that younger team members have to observe the upperclassmen and all they do, so they can help run the program when the seniors graduate.

The Dance Team began with $250 of school funding. The amount has grown from about $2,500 last year to $10,000 this year from the student body. The members do a variety of fundraisers but gain a large portion of their funding from working at Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, which has College Night on Wednesdays. This year the Dance Team works there once a month.

Individuals have to be 18 to get in — 21 to get in the bar area — and the Dance Team receives a portion of the door fee for each person who comes in. They are also paid to help in the bar area, whether it's pouring drinks or serving. Any tips they get to keep.

All the work is worthwhile, said Frailich, who was a cheerleader all four years at Simi Valley High and spent her first two years of college at CSU Channel Islands.

She danced in a studio but, seeking a major Channel Islands didn't have and hearing from a Cal Lutheran alumnus about the dancing team, switched to the Thousand Oaks school.

"I think that without dance and without cheerleading, sports wouldn't be the same, especially at a high school and college level, where school spirit is an emphasis," Frailich said.