College Dance Team Central

Sunday, February 22, 2009

ECU Dance Team Wants More

By Kristin Day
The Daily Reflector

Back in January, more than 3,000 athletes from across the country, plus Puerto Rico, gathered in Orlando, Fla., for an all-out battle for bragging rights and a chance to show their skills on national television.

It was the 2009 College Cheer and Dance Team National Championship, as well as ECU's return to the national competition since its last visit 10 years ago. Highlights from the competition air Sunday and March 19 on ESPN2.

It wasn't that long ago — November to be exact — when Coach Kristin Winstead told the team its videotape submission had earneda spot in Florida.

“We all screamed,” Sarah Miller, a junior at ECU, said.

“Especially since it was such a hassle last year,” senior Monica Williams added. Apparently, there were some financial issues.
But after finding out, they “practiced their butts off,” said junior Shelley Underhill, and basically gave up their winter break to develop their choreography.

“In actuality, we had less than two months to learn a routine and perfect it,” Miller said.

On Jan. 16, the team flew to Orlando.

“Better than the bus ride to Memphis (for the Liberty Bowl),” freshman Jordyn Barrick said.

The team stayed at Disney's All-Star Sports Resort, “the basketball place,” according to sophomore Emily Hendricks.

“It's like oversized hoops and basketballs this big,” said sophomore Rebecca Thomas as she raised her arm about eye level.

Participants from 152 universities and an estimated 6,000 spectators twittered around the Wide World of Sports Complex and the Indiana Jones Theater at Disney's Hollywood Studios that weekend. ECU team members describe the scene as “very school spirited” and a little bit like the movie “Bring It On.” But the teams, though in contention, remained supportive of one another.

ECU first performed in the semifinals for the Hip Hop Dance division, although the routine was set to a rock ‘n' roll medley. There were nerves, of course, but once their feet hit the stage, the girls said all their anxiety disappeared.
And when list of teams was called out for the finals, all they could do was sit in anticipation as each team's name was read.

One by one until, finally, ECU was called.

“They tricked us,” Barrick, said, and the rest of the girls laughed.

“But it was a big deal,” junior Courtney Catalfano said. “We were bawling our eyes out.”

The best feeling, perhaps, was the reaction from other schools, some of whom seemed surprised by the skill displayed by a dance team they had never seen before.

ECU danced for the finals on Sunday and placed 15th in the nation for Hip Hop Dance. The top three teams will be shown on ESPN, but ECU's performance can still be seen online here.

Team members say their accomplishments give them motivation for next year's competition, although they might start practicing a little earlier this time.

“Now we know what to expect and what to do. ... It's like we got our toes wet,” Miller said, before several of the girls motioned as if they were sticking their toes in water.

Williams, a senior, just wants her team to remember why they're there next year.

“I just hope in the future, everybody has fun,” she said. “Sometimes we got stressed, but you have to remember you're doing it because you love to dance.”

“The second you step on stage, it's worth it,” Miller added.

They also hope winning a ranking spot will garner more recognition from some of their peers.

“I think we're hoping to get a little more respect from the students,” senior Megan Thornton said. “People look at us and think we're just the girls with the half-tops.”

“They think (the moves) are cool, but that's it,” sophomore Brianne Camp said.

The ECU Dance Team will enter the competition again this year in hopes of finishinghigher. But the chances of getting Pee Dee into the mascots division? Not good, they say. Mascots have to be invited.

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Marshall Dance Team Doin' It For Themselves

MU dance team raising money for competition
By Kristen Footo
Photo Media Credit: Carrie Kirk
The Parthenon Online

They spend 12 to 15 hours practicing each week, attend mandatory 6 a.m. workout sessions and have been gearing up for an April competition since July 2008.

The 12 women who make up the Marshall University dance team say they are no joke, and they are preparing for their biggest performance yet. They only have one problem - money. The dance team does not receive any financial support from Marshall.

With this in mind, the dance team will resort to personally raising money for the competition. Although many clubs and organizations are involved in fundraising on campus, not many have a goal this large. It will cost about $1,000 per team member to compete in the NDA National Collegiate Dance Championship. Twelve thousand dollars will cover the cost of costumes, a choreographer, travelling and competition fees.

Raising $12,000 for 12 dance team members puts them in a tough spot, but Jo Tippett, senior team captain, said they are making progress.

"We sent out letters practically begging local businesses and family members and friends from our hometowns to help us out with this endeavor," Tippett said. "We are pretty close to our goal."

With the end in sight and the competition date nearing, the girls are planning to put together bake sales throughout the semester to help with fundraising. They will also hold their third annual "Win a Date with the Dance Team" raffle. Tickets for the raffle can be bought for $1 from any member of the Marshall dance team at events where they appear.

Once all the funds have been collected, they will be used to pay the fees associated with the competition. One fee is for the choreographer, who is from the Retter Academy in California and has choreographed previous title holders.

Other funds will be used for travel expenses to Daytona Beach, Fla., where the competition will be held. The team will compete against hundreds of other college dance teams divided into four divisions.

The team has practiced 10 to 15 per week in preparation for the competition. That is on top of their regular performances at football and basketball games.

"We never ignore our spot on the basketball court or football field. We take great pride in the name we have given this dance team and only hope for us to receive more recognition as the years go on," Tippett said. "We have a lot of fun preparing for the competition, but with all the extra time it possesses, it is tough to make it through long school days and work hours."

As if the competition were not enough to look forward to in April, the dance team will also be holding tryouts the weekend after the competition. There are some high levels of technique required to be considered for a spot on the team, and there a lot of extra workouts in the future for each new member. Anyone interested in trying out can get more information at

The NDA National Collegiate Dance Championship will be April 8 through April 12.

"I believe this team has overcome intense obstacles, and we are almost 100 percent ready to represent Marshall University on a national level," Tippett said.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cincinnati Dance Team To Represent United States

By Reggie Philpott
The News Record

The University of Cincinnati dance team has already brought home a national championship this year, and now will represent the United States in the first ever International Cheer Union World Championship.

The team has been selected by USA Cheer from a pool of outstanding college dance teams to compete as Team USA in Orlando, Fla., on April 24.

The competition will be held at Walt Disney World’s Wide World of Sports complex, the same site as the Universal Dance Association national championship.

The University of Cincinnati dance team has already brought home a national championship this year, and now will represent the United States in the first ever International Cheer Union World Championship.

The team has been selected by USA Cheer from a pool of outstanding college dance teams to compete as Team USA in Orlando, Fla., on April 24.

The competition will be held at Walt Disney World’s Wide World of Sports complex, the same site as the Universal Dance Association national championship.

Teams from 25 to 30 other countries will also enter the contest, according to UC Dance Team Head Coach Lisa Spears.
When Spears made the announcement to the members of the team over lunch at Holy Grail Tavern and Grill on Friday, Feb. 6, they exploded in cheers and excitement as yet another organization validated their position as the best team of competitive college dance in the U.S.

“We have no idea what world [championship competition] is going to be like,” said second year team member Chandra Miller. “It’s something new that UC dance has never experienced before.”

Over the past six years the Bearcats have won four national championships with their hip-hop routines, showcasing a consistent ability to compete on the biggest and toughest stage.

Now they have an opportunity to take things to the next level.

“We’re representing the entire United States,” said fourth-year team member Jamie Cobb. “There’s so many teams out there and they picked us, from Clifton.”

The new international competition is part of a continuing drive to get competitive dance recognized as an Olympic sport.
The International Cheer Union also invited three members of the Olympic selection committee to the national championship this year, according to Spears.

“If some day this becomes an Olympic sport and we’re the ones that help get it there, that would be an incredible honor for this program,” Spears said.

Fresh off of the triumph at nationals, the announcement came at a time when the dance team is usually winding out the season by performing at basketball games and preparing for tryouts in the spring.

This year, the intensity will stay at a high level for two more months as the team dedicates their time and energy to a brand new competition.

The team will continue to practice 20 or more hours per week as they condition themselves to stay in competitive form.

In addition to the hip-hop and dance categories that form the national championship, the ICU World Championship will also hold a competition in the freestyle cheer category, a pom-pom routine.

Above and beyond any other team in the country, the UC dance team demonstrated that they have the ability to win an international competition in all three categories, according to a USA Cheer press release.

For the competition, the team will learn three, newly-choreographed routines.

The international competition will shed more light on the high level of skill of the athletes on the team, as well as around the world, according to Spears.

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Whitman Dance Team Debuts

By Alyssa Fairbanks
Whitman College Pioneer

The Whitman Dance Team spiced up the Feb. 6 men’s basketball game against Linfield and the Feb. 7 women’s game against Willamette with a brand new routine performed during half-time. The dance team of 17 girls had been practicing non-stop for the past two weeks in preparation for their half-time performances. They performed a short routine to “The Fame” by Lady GaGa to the cheering Whitman fans.

“The past two weeks we have been practicing five times a week, which is a ton. We have been working really hard to get ready for our performance,” sophomore Rachelle Sloss, the dance team co-captain, said.

This is Sloss’s first semester as a team captain, although she has had been dancing since she was very young. “I’ve done a little ballet, hip-hop and jazz. But, I really got into dance in high school when I was in my high school’s dance team,” she said.

As captain, Sloss choreographed the entire dance. Last semester she helped the senior captains choreograph sections, but this is the first entire routine she has done without assistance.

When asked about the challenges of choreographing a routine for a sporting event versus a stage performance, Sloss said, “The routine has to be bigger and more visual to fill the space. The audience is looking down, the lighting is different and the proximity to the audience is different. All this changes the choreography.”
Senior Lauren Adler, Sloss’s co-captain, agreed.

“[At] the basketball games . . . you are extremely close to the audience and you can see every individual face. It can be awkward and scary, especially if you’ve never performed at one before,” Adler said.
Sophomore dance team member Kristine Unkrich is relatively new to performing at sporting events, but she already has some observations.

“In a theater, it’s more of a show because you can work with lighting and background—it’s more theatrical. At a half time show, it’s more there for a little entertainment,” Unkrich said.

Despite the challenges, Adler believes that performing at basketball games is a good venue for the dance team. The court floor is easy to dance on and there is a pre-existing sound system. Nor do other sports lend themselves as well to half-time dance performances.

“Think of how ridiculous it would be for us to bust out on Ankeny during the halftime of an IM football game,” Adler said.
Apart from these two basketball games, the dance team will be performing at two more games later in the season. Sloss hopes they will also perform at Greek Week as they did last year.

“Performing is what I like most about dancing,” said Unkrich. And Whitman fans seemed to love watching the dance team perform.

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