College Dance Team Central

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Feature On Boston University Dance Team At Nationals

Dancing down to Florida
By Ross Lichtenberg
The Daily Free Press

Some students dream of attending the Frozen Four in their time at BU. Some hope to storm the court at an America East championship game to celebrate a basketball team's punched ticket to the Big Dance.

I also dream of watching BU athletics succeed at a national level, but while those mainstream sports struggle to rise to the occasion, my backup team enjoyed some time in the spotlight last weekend.

While the spring sports battle through the heart of the season and the playoff push, one of the forgotten teams on campus - and in many cases a team few people know exists - concluded its season with a successful campaign on the national level.

The Boston University Dance Team traveled to Daytona Beach, Fla., to compete in the National Dance Alliance National Championships, and I made the journey to enjoy all six minutes of the dance team's routine Florida.

The BUDT - also known to basketball fans around campus as "that group of girls that performs during halftime" - brings a lot more to the table than just a nice sight when fans are too afraid to glance at the scoreboard of a one-sided basketball game.

Ignoring the 1,200 miles traveled just to have this revelation, I enjoyed two days of watching intense dance competition and felt as though the fifth edition of the "Bring It On" movie series was being created before my eyes - yes, they've actually made four movies about cheerleading. Instead of a bland halftime performance, I found a team that has as much dedication as any other at BU.

After a sixth-place finish at nationals last year and boasting two All-Americans in senior captain Grace Lam and sophomore Allie Bradley, the BUDT looked to solidify itself as one of the dominant programs in the nation last weekend.

When the Class of 2008 entered BU as freshmen, the dance team struggled to receive recognition from the university and had little success at national competitions. As that class now exits BU, the dance team has enjoyed back-to-back Top 10 finishes in the nation after earning a seventh-place finish last weekend.

The BUDT has built the foundation for a highly successful program after years of being a small presence on campus. After witnessing the team's success outside of The Roof, it's even more disturbing to hear the club status of the dance team is in jeopardy for next year.

As a current club team, the BUDT is partially funded by the Athletics Department. Any possible demotion next year could lead to even fewer funds and - in the most extreme case - the inability to continue to perform at basketball games.

It's been hard to sleep at night with that thought in mind. I also heard from an unreliable source that 90 percent of the fans at basketball games really just come to see the dance team.

The dance team is already one of the few competitive squads that lacks either funding for a coaching staff or scholarships, and it's still able to enjoy a great deal of success despite many setbacks not experienced by varsity programs.

Perhaps my dream of a varsity dance team with its own on-campus facility and a season filled with dance-offs might never happen - and I'm willing to accept that. With the impractical varsity promotion likely out of the picture, the dance team's presence as a growing club sport needs to remain on campus.

It's no secret BU athletics wants to change its image in an attempt to gain student attendance and build support for athletic programs. Whether that comes in the form of marketing ploys or new facilities, I agree with the strides BU has taken to improve a game's environment.

One of the greatest reflections of what school spirit should be at a sporting event lies directly on the shoulders of the pep band and dance team. As the only stable on-court presence of school spirit, the dance team's value to BU athletics is more than just an appreciation for dance. With the cheerleaders' inconsistent attendance at basketball games this year, the future of BU spirit seems to be in peril.

Limiting our spirit programs on campus is the exact opposite of what to look for in a growing athletic program. As a representation of school spirit, the dance team's presence at sporting events provides for a positive environment.

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