While a lot of college students know how to break it down at the club, and everyone loves to copy the popular hip-hop dance crazes, there are some SU students who excel when it comes to dancing—members of the university dance team, who are always looking like superstars.
MAKING THE CUT
What does it take to score a spot on the SU dance team? Kelsey King, interim head coach, began tryouts with a basic warm up to see how flexible and strong each dancer was. King also included a bit of conditioning to evaluate the dancers’ stamina and to observe whether or not they have experience in dance exercise.
Immediately following, the hopefuls broke into technical exercises that included a series of leaps, turns, and kicks among other jazz and ballet combinations.
“It is important that they have a good base of dance history, terminology, and body awareness,” said King. The tryouts concluded with a jazz or hip-hop routine to be performed in front of a panel of judges. The routine is used to see how quickly each person is able to pick up choreography and demonstrate their performance quality. “They must be able remember the routines while having fun for their audience,” said King.
She usually looks for around 20 dancers to begin each season, but that number varies based on the talent level that is showcased during auditions.
“I’d like to welcome anyone with dance experience to come out and be a part of this awesome team,” King said.
GETTING TO WORK
While the auditions are tough, one look at the team’s practice schedule shows that making the team is the easy part. The SU dance team practices nearly all semester long, twice a week for two to three hours to be ready to perform at the football and basketball games during their “prep” season. They are also responsible for working outside of practice to make sure they stay in shape.
But nothing compares to the dedication and intensity the dancers demonstrate when preparing for competition. At the start of the competitive season, especially when Nationals are nearing, the team has to focus and work very hard.
“By that time, the routine should be known forward and backwards,” says Jordan Browning, captain of the team. “This is no time to be relearning. It is really just making sure everything and everyone is perfect.”
WHEN THE FUTURE CALLS
Unlike many schools with whom the team competes, Stevenson does not offer a dance major. One of the major benefits of joining the SU dance team is having the opportunity to continue a dance career on a competitive level.
“Instead of focusing on performances and nationals,” King said, “I like to focus on continuing with the training they already have.” Most dancers who have graduated from high school understand that they won’t be able to continue to train in the rigorous and challenging environment they are used to. However, King explained that that won’t be the case once they join the team. “It’s a good place for people who are used to that competitive level of dancing to keep going on with it,” she said.
Not only will the SU dance team give students the opportunity to continue their technical training, but it can also improve certain skills and attributes that would be useful in classes as well as the work force.
“As the SU dance team captain for my sophomore, junior, and senior year,” Browning said, “my leadership skills have become much stronger, and I know they will benefit me in the future in preparing for the professional world ahead.”
The team also teaches the valuable lesson of hard work. It is impossible to show up to Nationals and expect to do well unless the dancers are pushed to work for and earn success.
“Both coach and the team expects 120 percent from everyone,” Browning said. “Dance is not like riding a bike; you have to constantly work and work on it to get better.”
WE ARE FAMILY
“A team is like a family,” Browning said, “where we all care about each other and want each other to grow into the best person that we can be. The stronger the team is as a whole, the better I think the performance will be, and I can say this year I am truly looking forward to preforming with everyone!”