College Dance Team Central

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dancing Through Stag Life; Fairfield Dance Team Feature

By: Renee Borghesi
The Fairfield Mirror

The buzzer echoes throughout the arena. Halftime. Ten girls run out to the middle of the court, getting into position. They have two minutes to show everyone what they can do, to put together what they have been practicing for two weeks and make it look effortless.

While the first strains of music blare over the loudspeaker, last-minute nerves are shaken off before the twirls, jumps, and intricate dance steps are performed perfectly synchronized to the lyrics. Shouts of approval from students are heard from all directions of the venue while fans wandering off to the concession stand stop to watch.

The Fairfield University Dance Team performs at all home men and women’s basketball games both on campus at Alumni Hall and off-campus at the Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport. They perform during timeouts and do a longer routine at half time. During the game, the Dance Team cheers on the Stags from the sidelines.

“It took me awhile to get used to the fact that I was standing on the sidelines for every second of the game,” Deirdre Neubauer ’11 remembered about her first year on the team. “I remember being very nervous my first game because I wasn’t sure what I was doing and every timeout we were doing something different.”

Rachel Greco ’13 felt the same way the first time stepping out onto the court.

“Once I started dancing, the nerves went away,” Greco said. “Now when I go out there, it’s really fun.”

Unlike most other teams or clubs on campus, the Dance Team successfully takes care of itself and the girls are rewarded for their efforts with personal satisfaction and bringing entertainment to those who watch them. Being a member of the Dance Team is completely voluntary and members do not receive class credit. All of the dances are made up by the members, so everyone gets a chance to create a halftime or timeout routine and see it performed at the games.

“We put a lot of time and effort into the team, which shows our commitment and love to the art of dance and performing,” captain Hailey Conn ’10 said.

The team had been without a coach for some time until Marie Chaisson stepped in at the end of the 2007-2008 school year. Chaisson’s background is in cheerleading, so coaching both cheer and dance has been a hard balance to find. Chaisson acts as the liaison between the athletic department and Dance Team and helps with logistics like budgets, but the dance aspect is left up to the team, said Conn.

The Dance Team’s dedication has been met with success. They do more than entertain crowds at basketball games, these young women take Stag fever on the road to represent Fairfield University throughout the state and country.

The Dance Team was only three spots away from making the finals at the Universal Dance Association National Championship in Disney World and finished in the top 20, ranking 8 spots higher than last year.

“It’s only the second year that the Fairfield University Dance Team has been there, so every year we will grow even stronger,” Greco said.

Although Nationals is a highlight experience for members of Dance Team, it isn’t all fun and games, said Neubauer. The dances for Nationals are more intricate than the ones performed at games; the team performs one contemporary and one hip-hop dance. They start learning the two routines by the end of September and work continuously until Nationals, which are held in the second week of January. This year, the team came back to school a week early before Nationals for three or four hour practices twice a day and spent almost 24 hours together each day of that week.

“Spending all of that time together as a team has bonded us in ways not everyone will find in college,” Conn said. “The team has made lifelong friendships, and when we perform together you can see how close we all are.”

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