Stevenson University’s dance team placed second in the nation for Division III Hip Hop at Daytona’s 2018 National Dance Alliance competition on April 5 to the 7. The SU team is the first dance team in Stevenson history to make it to finals at a national competition.
The team competed in the preliminary round and placed fourth with a score of 8.546. After their next performance, they placed second in the division, improving the score to an 8.771.
Junior co-captain Maddie Saul credits her coach, Kelsey King, who joined the team as an assistant coach in 2015, for the win. Saul said that King was their “breath of fresh air” when facing challenges. The 2018 victory was a huge step up from 2015, when the team managed to place fifth and “missed making it to finals by less than a tenth of a point,” she said. During the next season [2016-2017], King became the head coach, and the dynamic of the team changed. This included technique-based dancing with both contemporary and hip-hop styles.
Saul said that King choreographed the routine the team used for the dance competition.
“It was the most complex and challenging nationals routine that has been given to us in my three years on the team. It included two full team skills, which is not common for Division III dance teams to do,” explained Saul. This included the unique tricks used in the team’s game-day performances. The stakes were high, as the team rehearsed the night before the event from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. and got ready to perform at 5 a.m.
Co-captain Meghann Hefner shared her excitement about making Stevenson history, adding, “The team couldn’t be more proud of ourselves, so we would like Stevenson as a whole to share in the pride that we have for this accomplishment.”
Saul also thanked the SU dance team’s assistant coach and alumna Jordan Browning, who assisted in rehearsals and competitions. Graduating from the program to assistant coach has helped Browning easily connect with the dancers.
SU dance team will have early tryouts at the end of the spring semester, which is the earliest they have ever been held. The team expects veterans and incoming freshman from overnight stays to get involved as early as possible and participate in tryouts. This experience will allow the team to rehearse over the summer as well.