College Dance Team Central

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Feature On Former St. Thomas Dancer

Dancing for Wolves
Star News

When you watch the Minnesota Timberwolves Dancers on television or at the Target Center, look for a lean, energetic 5-foot-3 blonde with a high-megawatt smile and long, luxurious hair.

That’s Ashley Kurr, a 23-year-old Elk River native who’s been dancing since age 4 and joined the Wolves’ performance team this year.

“I have always loved watching sports,” said Kurr, “and this is a great way to be part of a sporting event while continuing my dance career. It’s another step up — from studio to St. Thomas dance team to professional with a sports team.”

The dance team performs two dances at each of the 41 regular season home games, plus exhibitions and playoffs.

“We are not cheerleaders,” Kurr said. “We are a dance team. But we do have poms, and we greet fans and do some sideline cheers.”

Kurr graduated from St. Thomas last year and works as an account manager for Business Impact, a promotional firm in Chanhassen. All the dancers are either in college or have graduated.

Other dance team tidbits: They have about 50 costumes. Dances are performed no more than three times each. They do all their own choreography under coordinator Abby LaDuke. In full force or partial groups, they make around 300 appearances per year including TV, radio, restaurants, malls, and charity events. And the dancers don’t mix with the players, said Kurr: “We see them on the court, obviously, and we see them in passing, but we don’t hang out.”

The pay’s not great, but the job has perks like free tanning and hair care and tickets for friends and family. And mainly the fun and prestige of being a dancer for a big-league team.

“I am thrilled to be a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves Dancers and have loved every second of this season,” said Kurr. “Being in dance for nearly 20 years, I have still not lost my passion for it and don’t think I ever will.”

Kurr’s parents, Greg and Dawn, have held season tickets to the Wolves for several years. (“Now they’ve got one more reason to go!” Ashley says.) She has one sibling who’s her favorite athlete: Kyle, a former Elk hockey player now skating with Hamline.

While attending ERHS (class of 2002), Kurr was a sports fan but not involved in dance team, cheerleading or sports. She channeled her energies to studio dancing with The Dance Shoppe in Plymouth from age 4 through high school. They learned tap, ballet, and traditional dances, and had many recitals and competitions.

Kurr danced with the St. Thomas team for four years and earned a degree in communications with a minor in community health. Her team was Division III national runner-up her last year.

Anxious to keep dancing, Kurr tried out for the Timberwolves team in early August, along with a St. Thomas teammate named Eileen.

“The first day, we learned a dance and performed it,” Kurr said. “There were over a hundred girls, and 25 or 30 were called back. Then we had interviews and photos the second day.

“And we found out the next day on the Web site. If your picture was there, you made it!”

Kurr saw both her photo and Eileen’s, much to her delight. You can check out the team yourself on

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Young Dancers To Perform With Orange Pride

By Nanette Craig
The Huntsville Item

It wasn’t cold enough for rosy cheeks Saturday, but there were plenty of girls whose smiles were framed by them yesterday at Sam Houston State University’s Health and Kinesiology Center.

Girls of various ages participated in a dance clinic sponsored by the SHSU Orange Pride dance team. This is the second camp held this year and the first year the dance team has held the dance clinic.

“We plan to make this a yearly event,” said Orange Pride dance coach Allyson Ramsey.

Today at the 3 p.m. Bearkat women’s basketball game against Arkansas Little-Rock, the young dancers will have the opportunity to perform at the half-time performance with the Orange Pride.

The girls were split into different ability levels and with the guidance of the Orange Pride dancers, learned two dances. They performed for proud parents and supporters before the clinic ended for the day.

Smiles lit up some faces while others had more serious looks of concentration. All were focused on getting each move right, watching their coaches and keeping one eye on their audience, all at the same time.

The beginner group was the largest with 10 young dancers. Orange Pride member Gloria Smith helped with the group and has now acquired many new fans.

“They were great to work with,” she said.

Smith likes working with kids and with the help of two other Orange Pride dancers taught the girls a routine to “Santa Baby.”

Smith said the biggest challenge was their attention span but “we worked through it.”

Billie Lyons, a student at SHSU, takes her 9-year-old daughter Elizabeth to the games on campus and said she loves to see the Orange Pride dance.

“This was the first time for her to participate in something like this and she just loved it,” said Lyons.

Lyons said Elizabeth will be getting dance lessons for Christmas this year and she can’t wait to start.

A real treat for the girls was to have a front row seat to see the Orange Pride team perform following their young students’ performances.

All the proceeds from the dance clinic help send the dance team to Daytona Beach, Fla. in April for the televised National Dance Association competition.

The Orange Pride dance team performs at each home football game as well as the men and women’s basketball games. They will be selling calendars also to help with the cost of going to Florida.

If interested in future dance clinics, contact the Spirit Programs by calling 294-3861.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Racer Girls Qualify For National Dance Championship

Team to compete in Orlando, Fla.
By Ashley Edwards

It's not often a University team gets to compete nationally, but the Murray State Racer Girls will be doing just that in January.

The Racer Girls qualified for the Universal Cheer Association and Universal Dance Association College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship to be held Jan. 18-20 in Orlando, Fla.

The team, led by its third-year captain Lauren Moore, senior from Benton, Ill., has never competed before.

Moore said she has wanted to compete since graduating high school.

"This is the competition you dream of when you dance for a college team," Moore said.

Most teams qualify for nationals by attending a camp hosted by the Universal Dance Association, but since the Racer Girls did not attend camp they submitted a video of the team performing a routine. The video was then evaluated and judged against other dance teams from universities of the same size.

Twenty-five dance teams were selected nationally to compete in the two divisions, dance and hip-hop. Moore said the Racer girls will compete in the hip-hop division, which is more freestyle and street dancing. The dance division focuses on proper technique.

"We just decided what type of dance we were strongest in and had the most fun doing," Moore said.

The Racer Girls have already begun working on their routine for nationals. Moore said most teams have a professional choreograph their routine, but the Racer Girls decided to dictate their own routine and have settled on a "shake" theme.

They are practicing three hours per day in addition to performing at basketball games. They are also planning to return from Christmas break early on Jan. 5 to finish preparations on the routine.

"I think we will do really well because we're such a talented team and we're all really close and everybody is working really hard," Moore said.

In addition to the long hours the team is putting in to prepare for nationals, they are also busy raising money to pay for the trip.

Moore said registration costs about $4,000, which includes participation fees, accommodations, a park hopper pass for Disney World and transportation to events. An additional $4,000 is needed to pay for the team's additional expenses.

Rebate nights, concession stand duty, ticket sales and local businesses donations have helped the women raise some funds already.

They are also selling raffle tickets from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. through Dec. 10 on the second floor of the Curris Center. Prizes include a Playstation 2, tanning minutes to be used at Express Tan, a Walmart gift card and a gift card for car washes from Shell Station. The winners of the raffle will be announced Dec. 10.

For another fundraiser, the Racer Girls will host a dance clinic from 10 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Dec. 8 in Carr Health for children from kindergarten through 12th grade. Participants will work on technique and will learn a group dance, which they will perform at the basketball game later in the evening.

Moore said the team has raised about $3,500.

"Everyone is really excited but we are so stressed out about the fundraising," Moore said. "We're trying to stay positive and focus on the competition and not worry about the money."

" … I'm really excited and it means a lot to get the opportunity to compete because I've been able to work with such a good group my last year," Moore said. "Without them I wouldn't have been able to achieve this goal I've had for the last four years."

Student Life Association Adviser Re'Nita Avery has been the Racer Girls' adviser for four years. She said she is excited the team finally has a group that agreed to compete.

"I am very excited for the girls," Avery said. "This is a big step for them and they are really putting forth the effort."

Anyone wishing to support the Racer Girls on their journey to nationals is encouraged to participate in the ongoing fundraisers or make a donation to the team.