College Dance Team Central

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Redhawk Becomes Sea Gal

By Katie Farden
SU Spectator
Media Credit: Courtesy Sea Gals

With four wins and 12 losses last season, the Seattle Seahawks ended 2008 leaving most of their fans with dim hopes for next year. Seattle U students and alumni still have cause to head down to Qwest Field, however, even if it is only for the half-time show.

Senior criminal justice and forensic psychology major Pia Gillan recently earned a spot on the Sea Gals, a professional dance team that performs at Seahawks football games.

When Gillan first found out she made the team, she was in disbelief.

"You have to wait for an hour to find out, and that's the worst part," she said. "When they first called my number I was in shock, I had to double check to make sure it was me."

Gillan has been a member of Seattle U's dance squad, SU Dance Team, for the past two years.

Her dance coach, Kate Kelly, wasn't surprised with Gillian's success at the Sea Gals tryout.

"She is one of the best performers I have ever coached," Kelly said. "She just has that air about her."

Performing in front of a large audience is one aspect of her new job Gillan says she is most excited to take on.

"I'm really excited just to be in the stadium interacting with the crowd," said Gillan who was born and raised in Guam and danced competitively in high school for Skip Entertainment Studio.

Before dancing on the SU Dance Team, Gillan spent her freshman and sophomore year playing rugby for Seattle U.

"Rugby was a lot of fun, especially because we played it a lot in Guam," she said. "But I really missed dancing. It's not that I didn't like rugby, but I do wish I had tried out for the dance team earlier."

The most unforgettable moment of her two years on Seattle U's dance squad, she said, was her initial audition.

"I had never really auditioned before, and I was nervous choreographing my own dance," she said of her 2007 tryout. "But I got through it."

Gillan auditioned for the Sea Gals in late April at Qwest Field. The try outs, which held three rounds of cuts and personal interviews, proved to be far more overwhelming than the Seattle U dance team auditions.

"At the SU audition, there are about eight girls there, and everyone knows your name," she said. "At the Sea Gals audition, there were over 200. You're just a number."

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Granite Bay Grad Dances From Grizzlies to Hornets

By Megan Wood- The Press Tribune
Granite Bay Press Tribune

Ali Bryant will soon swap her Granite Bay cheerleading uniform for Sacramento State’s dance team duds.

Bryant, a dancer since she was 8 years old recently auditioned for the Hornet Dance team and was notified last week that dance would definitely play a part in her college career.

Bryant has been in the advanced dance class at Granite Bay High School all four years of high school. She danced on the Emerald Dance team her freshman and sophomore years before joining the cheerleading squad her junior year. Her senior year, Bryant was voted captain of the cheerleading squad.

Bryant begins practice with the Hornet Girlz this summer and will attend several community events with the dance team.

Next year, as a freshman at Sacramento State, Bryant will perform at home football and basketball games with the Hornet Girlz and will make appearances at Raley Field.

Before graduating next month, Bryant will travel to Disneyland to perform and attend a workshop with the cheerleading squad. Bryant will dance one last time on the Granite Bay stage in the spring dance show May 21 and 22. The show takes place in the Granite Bay High School Theater at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10.

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Spotlight: Alabama Crimson Cabaret

Taylor Daily Press

Jennifer Jan Tocquigny has been a member of the nationally ranked Crimson Cabaret college dance team at the University of Alabama for four years. Her team performs at each of the Tide’s basketball games, as well as, for 98,000 football fans. Each year the Crimson Cabaret competes at the UDA College Dance Nationals in Orlando, Fla., where they have consistently placed in the top 10 college dance teams. Tocquigny was on the Fairview High Pom Squad for four years, captain of the team her senior year and a professional cheerleader with the Colorado Rapids while in high school. She is the daughter of Carla and Rick Tocquigny of Boulder, Colo. Her grandmother is Janell Rohlack of Taylor.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Rice Spirit Squads Stepping It Up

Despite lack of funding, student-run spirit groups are rising to the challenge of a growing athletics department
The Rice Thresher

Two Bowl trips, a $27 million dollar renovation of the basketball facilities and the signing of one of the winningest basketball coaches in the nation are all just parts of Athletic Director Chris Del Conte's vision for the future of the Rice athletics. Simultaneously, with neither the resources of a full-time staff nor the ability to raise six-figure alumni donations, students leading the Rice spirit squads have been working to move their teams in a direction parallel to Del Conte's vision.

The Owls' cheerleading and dance teams have both been through many changes in recent years after making concerted efforts to improve the quality of their performances. Their goal has been to significantly bolster student support on the sidelines.

"Both of [the squads] have improved tremendously," Megan Dodge, director of marketing, said. "I think a lot of it has to do with the passion of their leaders."

Since the beginning of the academic year, Dodge has been assigned as the liaison between the athletics department and the spirit squads. The seemingly arbitrary addition to the director of marketing's work description exemplifies a confusing trend in the relationship between the groups.

There exists a long-standing gray area when it comes to categorizing the spirit squads as either clubs or parts of the athletics department. In the past, this self-imposed relationship worked well for both parties. But a concerted effort has arisen from the leadership of the student groups to improve their on-field performance, and when added to the current financial troubles, the students feel as though their efforts have been stifled by an inefficient system.

Balancing act
For the cheer squad, there is one piece of the system in particular that brings the most challenges: The coaches of the squad are students taking on an extreme additional burden.

"Athletics sees cheerleading as our job, as our number one priory," said senior co-captain Nina Xue. "But we don't get treated like that's our number one priority."

Xue and junior co-captain Darren Arquero were central figures in pushing for a squad with improved skill. To get the team where they wanted them to be, the captains arranged for the team to train every week at a gym located in Sugarland, Tex. While the move has manifested itself in strong on-field performances, problems arose when it came to deciding how to pay for these kinds of endeavors.

"Darren and I have to talk to athletics, run a team, do all the administrative stuff and we are in charge of fundraising," Xue said. "And then we work, and we have school."

The presence of a full-time coach, she claims, would significantly lighten the burden on the students and increase the squad's ability to raise funds. But the team is stuck in an enigma. While a coach would ease the burden of fundraising, they do not have up-front money to pay for a coach.

"Chris Del Conte said throughout this year, 'Prove to me that you guys do deserve a coach,'" Russ Dean, Associate Athletics Director, said.

Xue believes that they have done just that.

"[Del Conte] thinks that we would be more legitimate if we were really coed, but that is because he doesn't understand the sport," she said. "Just because we don't have huge guys launching us in the air doesn't make us less legitimate."

But the fact that they are the only cheer squad with no full-time coach in the conference has implications beyond the quality of their performances. The athletics department pays for one of the members of the squad to be certified by the National Cheerleading Association every year, as conference regulations require there to be a certified coach present at every practice for safety reasons.

Cheerleading has one of the highest rates of injury of any sports - ESPN has named it the most dangerous sport for girls - and the burden of keeping the squad safe falls on the shoulders of the on-field captain.

"I am the one that is legally responsible if people get hurt on the team," Xue said. "If we had a coach, they could watch everything. [But] when Darren and I are involved in all the stunts, we can't see everything that is going on."

While safety in the practices is left up to the members of the squad, the medical resources that are available to any varsity athlete are given to the cheer squad, as well. But the gray area makes it difficult, at times, for the system to deal with the cheerleaders. For example, when Arquero was injured last year though cheerleading, his request for a motorized scooter from health services was repeatedly denied, because he was not classified as an athlete.

"Going through that process is very difficult," Arquero said. "It is basically [saying] that we are not being appreciated."

Owning the squad
While the two squads carry many of the same responsibilities, the dance team has responded to their unique relationship with athletics in a different manner.

"We are highly self-governing," senior Jennie Wilburn, captain of the dance team, said. "People take up their responsibility. It is a lot of work, but people do a good job of trying to spread it out."

The members of the dance team take turns creating choreography for their performances, a point in which the squad takes great pride. Without the safety hazards associated with some of the cheerleaders' routines, the dancers have been able to place that same emphasis on constantly improving without seeking out extra help. Instead, Wilburn said, the members have simply been putting in more time and effort.

Many other dance squads dedicate themselves to traveling for competitions in addition to supporting their teams. While this may be a potential direction for the team, they are currently focusing on raising the bar for their game-day performances.

"I think that as we slowly take our steps to make ourselves more serious, the student body takes you more seriously, and athletics will too," Wilburn said. "It is something that will happen over time as long as people remain committed. I don't think people realize how much time we put in. We put in as much time as some varsity sports."

Wilburn says that despite the team's recurring problems with funding, she understands the difficulty that the athletics department has when it comes to defining the position of the spirit squads.

"I would say it is not because they don't want to help," she said. "I think they want to do everything that they can for us."

When it comes down to it, the most important issue for all parties is supporting Rice athletics. The spirit squads saw the models put forth by the highflying connections between Chase Clement and Jarett Dillard, and they have been trying to raise their level of performance to coincide with the increased national recognition.

"I would never want to say that I am comparable to Dillard or Clement," Wilburn said, "But at the same time, when we do a lot for a team we don't feel the same appreciation."

And they intend to bolster the resurgent basketball programs as signs of support for the immense amount of money and resources placed into those programs, as well.

"Our team can do things that would have been impossible in previous years," Xue said.

But the reshaping of an entire department cannot happen overnight. There is a mutual recognition, though, that the process will have to take a great deal of effort and communication.

"We will try our hardest to give them all the tools to be successful that we can," Dean said. "Now, every sport will probably want more, but of course we will sit down with them."

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Penn State Lionettes Take Fourth

Lionettes' best finish in recent history

University Park, Pa. - The Penn State Lionettes Dance Team went from the sidelines of football and basketball games to the spotlight after placing in fourth at the National Dance Alliance (NDA) competition in Daytona, Fla. earlier this spring. It is the first time in the Lionettes' history that they have placed in the top five in the NDA championship and they did it in an incredible fashion by coming in fourth place.

Dance team advisor Sue Sherburne has been a leader and mentor for the team since her arrival in the spring of 1997.

"It's a huge accomplishment without having a full-time coach," said Sherburne, who is also an Assistant Director, Academic Counselor & Coordinator of the Nagle/CHAMPS Life Skills Program in the Morgan Academic Center at Penn State.

Sherburne continued to say that between herself, the choreographer and the team captains, they work together to ensure that the void from the lack of full-time coaching does not keep the talented team from excelling.

There are 26 girls on the dance team and trials for the competition squad began in October. Sixteen girls and two alternates were selected, with 15 actually competing in the competition. Senior Sydney Klein, who competed in the NDA all four of her collegiate years, was the Lionettes' Nationals Coordinator this year. She was responsible for scheduling flights and getting the team where it needed to be to compete.

Despite all of the preparation it wasn't always smooth sailing for the team, though, as there were obstacles all the way up to the final event with three girls becoming injured in separate incidents. One of the injured was senior Ashley Herbick, who broke her foot during basketball season. Despite being upset that she could not perform in her senior year, she remained a motivational and inspirational person for the team to go on and win. The two alternates joined the competition team and worked together to incorporate the changes that occurred on such short notice. Another alternate had to be added to the competition team just in case any other accidents happened.

The fourth place finish in Daytona was exciting and very rewarding for everyone, and Sherburne added that she was especially proud for all the effort they put in since the majority of the year is spent performing at football and basketball games, leaving only about a month that is fully devoted to preparing for the nationals.

Aside from performing at the games, the team was actively involved with THON, and maintains a 3.6 team GPA.

"It's not just about winning," Sherburne said. "It's about everything else they've done to get there."

Both the dance team and cheerleading squad compete in the NDA championships. A total of 220 schools competed and the Lionettes were one of 17 dance teams competing in the Division I Athletics group.

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Friday, May 01, 2009

UC Dancers On Top Of The World

By Lauren Bishop
Also: UC Dance Team Sweeps Dance Championship,

Best in the nation, and now best in the world.

That’s what the University of Cincinnati Dance Team can claim after winning gold medals in jazz dance, hip-hop and freestyle dance at the first-ever International Cheer Union’s World Cheerleading Championships in Orlando over the weekend, three months after the team won its fourth national hip-hop title in six years.

“They were unbelievable,” said Lisa Spears, who is in her 11th year as the team’s head coach. “They put on an outstanding performance.”

The International Cheer Union chose the UC dance team to represent the U.S. at the world cheerleading championships after the team took first place in hip-hop and fourth in dance in January at the Universal Dance Association – College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship at Walt Disney World.

The team held four-hour practices four to five times a week for two months to prepare for the world championships, lengthening and refining the hip-hop and dance routines they performed at nationals and learning a new freestyle routine, Spears said. The team’s varsity squad is made up of 17 students from all over the country, who have an overall grade point average of 3.4, she said.

Team members knew little about their international competition, which included teams from more than 40 countries competing in the dance and cheer events. The event was also part of a campaign to make competitive dance and cheer part of the Olympic Games.

In the end, the UC Dance Team’s greater experience compared with teams from countries that were new to competitive dance and cheering won out, said dance team captain Julie Dota, a 23-year-old senior math major from Youngstown. Still, they were stunned when they heard they swept all three categories.

“We really couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I would have never expected any of this to happen.”

The world championships ended the dance team’s season, but auditions for the 2009-2010 team take place May 30.


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Towson Dance Team Takes Home 11th National Title

Towson, MD "We Are the Champions" could very well be the theme song for the Towson University Dance Team. They're just back from Daytona after winning their 11th straight National Collegiate Division l title.

Ron Matz has more on the 27 women who make up this amazing dynasty of dance.

The Towson University Dance Team has done it again, winning the Collegiate National Championship Division l title.

They took a chance with a new routine, depicting a battle between good and evil.

Coach Tom Cascella is proud that the girls took a chance.

"It was difficult for them to take a chance with this routine, so I was happy that we won. But I was happier they were willing to take a risk and do a routine no one else has ever done," he said. "We could have lost, but they didn't let that influence their decision of what they wanted to do and how they wanted to take our team in another direction.

They defeated 20 other teams in the competition in Daytona, bringing home a big trophy.

Their intensity is shaped in practice.

"We work very hard in practice--Tuesdays and Thursdays three hours usually after classes and then on the weekends pretty much all day," said junior Jennifer Maletto.

Practice does make perfect. At least 150 young women auditioned this year and only eight made the team.

But for the seniors looking ahead, it's been a bittersweet moment.

"I can't believe I'm finishing up. It has been a lot of hard work but all the girls, we've become so close. So it's really great. It becomes emotional when you're a senior and you're out there for your last time and it hits you that it's done," said senior Dana Richmond.

"It never gets old. I was really happy for them because they worked so hard," said Cascella.

More than 15,000 people watched the competition in Daytona. The 2009 Collegiate Championship is the largest college cheer and dance championship in the world.

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UALR Dance Team Tryouts and Prep Classes Announced


LITTLE ROCK, Ark.—The UALR Dance Team tryouts and prep classes are set for the 2009-10 squad. Prep classes will be held on Tuesday, May 5 and Tuesday, May 12 both a 4 p.m. at the UALR Center for Performing Arts. Tryouts for the team will be held on Saturday, May 23 at 10 a.m. at the same venue.

Tryouts will consist of floor work, across the floor exercises, and a jazz, hip hop, and pom routine. Dancers will be judged on image, skills, memory, and dance performance.

Skills that the judges will be looking for:
· Single, Double, and Triple Pirouettes
· Fouette Turns
· A La Second Turns
· Illusions
· Straight Leg Leaps
· Open Side Leaps
· Switch Leaps
· “C” Jump

Dancers are recommended to wear dance shorts, nude tights, and a sports bra to auditions. Black ankle jazz shoes will be required throughout the season.

Prep classes are strongly recommended for dancers to attend. Dancers will learn the routines and cover skills during these sessions. Questionnaires will be filled out during the classes. Dancers can bring a dance resume, but it is not required for auditions.

Scholarships will be offered to dancers who make the 2009-10 squad.

For more information about tryouts, please contact UALR dance team coach and choreographer Sara Beth Wyatt at for visit

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OSU Dance Team Wins Big In Daytona

By April Bohnert
The Lantern

The Ohio State Dance Team is a student-run club sport. The members don't get trainers, nutritionists or team uniforms. Everything they have and everything they have achieved they have had to work twice as hard for. So every year, when the team travels to Daytona Beach, Fla., for the National Dance Alliance College Dance Team Nationals in early April, the odds are against them.

The team starts practicing in July for the NDA College Dance Team camp in Louisville, Ky. This year at camp, the team finished first in team dance, won the Most Collegiate Award and received a full paid bid to the national competition.

In Daytona, the team performs in a preliminary competition that allows only 11 teams to move on. In the past, the OSU Dance Team has not made it to the finals, but in recent years they have grown increasingly stronger.

Two years ago, the team placed seventh, only to come back in 2008 to take third. This year team won second place in the nation.

But they don't plan to stop there.

"It felt good, but at the same time, I'm ready to go back," said Rachel Hughes, a third-year team member and junior in marketing.

"I know next year we're gonna go back really wanting it."

From summer to spring, the team performs at pep rallies, OSU men's basketball games, a Cleveland Cavaliers game and charity events, such as Dancers Responding to AIDS. They practice two days a week and work out the three days in between practice.

While many OSU students are sprawled out on beaches enjoying Spring Break, the dance team is practicing seven hours a day to prepare for the national championship.

"All throughout college, I've never had a spring break," Hughes said.

When they're not performing or practicing, the OSU Dance Team is out raising money and seeking sponsorships to help alleviate the costs that, otherwise, come out of their own pockets.

"When other dance teams can rest, we're out doing fundraising," Hughes said.

The team holds dance clinics for children from 5 years old to high school. Frequently, high schools and dance studios will contact the team to come in and work with students, team captain Lindsay Molla said.

The proceeds from the clinics and other fundraisers go toward uniforms, equipment, travel expenses and competition fees.

OSU Dance Team will be holding tryouts in May. The dates can be found at

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