College Dance Team Central

Friday, March 28, 2008

MU Dance Team Preparing For Nationals

By Chau Nguyen
The Oxford Press

While fellow students are spending spring break in sand, snow and everything in between, members of the Miami University dance team remain in Oxford for three-a-day practices in preparation for a Florida adventure.

The dance team, comprised of 12 members and head coach Eloiza Domingo-Snyder, is practicing for the National Dance Alliance National Collegiate Competition to be April 9-13 in Daytona Beach, Fla.

According to co-captain Rachael Gilpin, the team will compete in Division 1A, the highest level of competition.

Gilpin said the team primarily performs and competes with three dance styles: pom, jazz and hip-hip, and this year's two-minute incorporates all three styles. With the competition now less than a month away, the RedHawks are looking to perfect their routine over break, she said.

"We really focus on cleaning the routine, perfecting every count, every motion to make sure that we look as uniform as possible," Gilpin said. "Being as uniform as possible is a big element that judges look for, so we'll do the routines full out, running it again and again and fixing anything that looks out of place."

The team returned from last weekend's Mid-American Conference tournament in Cleveland, where they performed in the MAC conference men's and women's basketball tournaments, which Gilpin said was good practice for the team.

"It really helps the girls get used to performing in front of a large audience and a different setting so it (was) a real advantage for us to perform there," Gilpin said.

In last year's national competition, the RedHawks finished the preliminary round in third place, behind consistently top ranked teams University of Louisville and Brigham Young University, Gilpin said.

"We ended the competition placing fifth nationally and that's the highest Miami has placed at nationals," Gilpin said. "We are confident that we will be able to defend our ranking and possibly even do better."

In August, the RedHawks got a jumpstart on the game with a full paid bid to national competition. According to Gilpin, teams across the nation competed for bids, partial bids and paid bids for the NDA National Collegiate competition during a NDA camp held at the University of Louisville.

"Paid bids are determined by how a team ranks in the team dance competition at camp and is voted on by other dance teams and camp staff," Gilpin said. "With $15,000 for travel, food and lodging, it's really allowed us to compete in the competition because it has eliminated a lot of the fundraising we would have to do and has allowed us to focus on the routine more."

With only two seniors, co-captain Shoko Yoshitake and herself, Gilpin said the youth of the team does not hinder its strength.

"For how young we are, it doesn't really show," Gilpin said. "We have a very strong freshman and sophomore class, so it's made it pretty easy this year, and that's typically not the case in young teams."

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