College Dance Team Central

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Former TCU Showgirl Creates Competitive Dance Team

By Anna Waugh

When former TCU Showgirl Megan McDonald was forced to take time off from the team when she injured herself last year before tryouts, she didn't stop dancing. She started planning.

McDonald, a junior biology major and a dancer since age 2, decided to create a competitive dance team called TCU Elite. The team will focus on studio dance techniques and go to local and national competitions, McDonald said.

"I wanted to be a part of something and dance again," she said.

The idea came to McDonald in April.

Cristie Carpenter, assistant director of programs, said McDonald went through the Office of Student Organizations, which requires clubs to write a constitution and fill out paperwork. Carpenter said once TCU Elite became classified as a sports club, McDonald had to fill out more paperwork, attend monthly meetings and a manual training about risk management and hazing policies.

Whitley Leiss, a senior early childhood education major and TCU Showgirl captain, said the team and Showgirls are two different entities since TCU Elite is a sports club and Showgirls is backed by marketing, although she said Showgirls could compete if they raise the funds.

McDonald said 32 people auditioned this past Saturday, and 18 were selected. Auditions consisted of learning a one-minute-long jazz routine that McDonald taught, and performing the routine in groups for outside judges, McDonald said. The judges were Brian Stevens, a local choreographer who will work with the team after it is formed; Tara Roberts, a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader and friend of McDonald's and Rachael McCoy, director of the University of Texas' dance team, McDonald said.

Leiss said she is proud of McDonald for creating the team and following her passion for dance.

"Megan's extremely talented," Leiss said. "She knows what she's doing."

McDonald said this year is mostly trial and error, and having a strong team bond will help teammates learn from their mistakes.

"It's everybody's collaboration," McDonald said. "It's got to be all these girls helping and helping one another and all of us working together in order for it to work."

Annie Cummins, a sophomore entrepreneurial management and marketing major, was selected as a member of the team this Saturday.

"(Dance) is a very passion-driven activity," Cummins said. "It's one of those things that you have to love doing it, or there's no point at all."

McDonald said that while taking a year off was difficult because she missed dancing with a team, she said she did not try out this year because the team was not for her anymore. She said things fell into place because Showgirls focused more on cheer, and now she can focus more on the competitive side of dance with TCU Elite.

She said she wants this year to go well because she has put so much of herself into the creation of the team, though its reality has not hit her yet.

"Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that I started a team," McDonald said. "It's kind of surreal."

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UK Dance Cats Name Walters Head Coach

By Katie Jeffries

Dawn Duncan Walters, a veteran of the dance program, was named head coach of the UK Dance Cats over the summer.
A graduate of the class of ’87, Walters was on the UK Dance Cats and cheerleading team when she was an undergraduate at UK, including the first ever Dance Cats team in 1984. The Dance Cats said Walters has already made many changes to the way the team runs.

Junior Tara Kleinhenz, a member of the varsity dance team, is excited for what Walters has prepared for the year. The dance team will now not only dance at halftime of basketball games, but football as well. This will give the team more performance practice than in the past.

“Dawn actually creates the choreography rather than having us make it up ourselves,” Kleinhenz said. “We now get choreographers to come in and help with our routines as well as making sure they are sharp enough for performance.”

Walters has created a Facebook fan page for those interested in the dance team. The page is steadily updated with pictures and descriptions so people can follow exactly what the team is doing through the year.

“The biggest change that we made this year is that the entire team came to camp over the summer,” Walters said. “The junior varsity (white team) and varsity teams (blue team) now practice together and hopefully next year we will be able to take both the blue and white teams to camp.”

The team is currently working on halftime performances but will soon be preparing for the Universal Dance Association National Competition in January. With Walters, the team hopes to be led confidently into UDA Nationals this year.
Walters said the band director and herself are working on a performance for the halftime of the Louisville game set to “Super Freak,” by Rick James, for the band’s Motown theme this year.

“I’ve already had a good friend of mine come in and do some choreography,” Walters said. “His name is Ryan Maag and I feel that it is very important to have outside choreography coming in so that we can do the best we can at nationals.”

Most team members agree Walters has created a stronger bond between the team with her exhilarating personality and motivational mindset. She will continue to unite the team with each other as well as other members of the UK Spirit Group. The members of this group include the cheerleaders, band and dance team, and Walters has already started planning events to unite this group even more.

“Dawn has a great personality,” Kleinhenz said. “She not only is a very caring person for the team, but also for people outside of the dance community. She has an uplifting attitude that encourages everyone to do their best.”

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Spotlight On Chico State Expressions Captain

Campus Spotlight: Q&A with Expressions Dance Team captain
The Orion

Chico State’s Expressions Dance Team has a new team captain. Haley Clement, 21, is a senior studying agriculture with a life-long devotion to dancing. She is currently preparing for the upcoming team tryouts in September.

How long have you been dancing?
14 years now, but this will be my fourth year with the Expressions Dance Team.

What is Expressions all about?
We’re technically a recreational sport, student organization. There are about 16 to 17 people on the team and we try to perform at as many Chico State functions as possible. We perform at basketball and baseball games, at Up ’til Dawn, the Fun Without Alcohol Fair and just about anything else we have time for. We produce a show at the end of the year, and that’s our baby. We perform about 20 dances in many different styles.

What is your favorite type of dancing, and why?
Right now, it’s probably a tie. I’m really into contemporary and hip-hop. I think contemporary dancing is my best because it really focuses on a theme or an emotion and I think that brings home what dance is all about.
It is, after all, an art. I like hip-hop just because it’s fun and I can escape and be someone different.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Will you still be dancing?
I’m going to school to be a high school agriculture teacher. It is hard to proceed because I want to do dance. Agriculture is the more practical choice for me in the long run, so I’ll probably at least try to dance on the side. I’d love to get a master’s degree. I just don’t want to be done with school or dance yet.

What are tryouts like?
Tryouts are Monday at 8 p.m. but we’re not exactly sure where yet. If someone wants to try out, then they come and fill out a form. There isn’t a warm-up, but they dance a few times across the floor doing different things like turns and such so that we can get an idea of everyone’s technique. We teach four eight-counts of a routine and then watch everyone perform it. If you make the team, those four eight-counts are the beginning to the first dance you learn.

–Compiled by
Patty Conover

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