Viterbo dance team competes at nationals

By Lili Gundersen

Lumen Reporter

The Viterbo Dance Team competed for the first time at AmeriCup, a ational dance competition in Minneapolis on Feb. 24-26. Out of 12 teams competing in collegiate divisions, Viterbo placed fourth in hip-hop and fifth in pom.

The team, comprised of 14 Viterbo women, traveled in a minibus and stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Minneapolis. The competition took place at the Minneapolis Convention Center Auditorium, a 3,433 fixed-seat venue.

The AmeriCup dance competition is host not only to collegiate teams but also “everyone from three year olds performing a Snow White ballet to indoor national teams” who are recent college graduates, said Rachel Hall, a second year English education major from Monticello, Iowa, and member of the Viterbo dance team. “Holy Moses, they were so talented.”

College teams who participated in the competition included UW-La Crosse, UW- Stevens Point and UW-Green Bay. The grand champion collegiate team was from Orange Coast College, in California.

“In the history of the Viterbo Dance Team, this is only the third competition we’ve attended, so we were very excited to be there,” Karla Hughes, assistant professor of music theater and faculty advisor to the dance team, told Lumen.

“It was basically three days of insanity,” Hall said. “Teams were everywhere, warming up and stretching. Our first performance was Feb. 25. We had professional photos taken, we stretched and had a run through of our routine.” The people who came to watch had to pay $20 to get in, so everyone who was there wanted to be there,” Hall said. “They want to watch you do what you love to do.” “Everyone is there to have a good time but also to do their best,” Hall said. “Teams you don’t even know will come up to you and say ‘good luck. You’ll do great.’”

“Of course we’re competitive,” Hughes said. “We want to win, but at the college level, but we recognize that the other teams are people too.”

“In the past, the team’s focus was on entertaining at home basketball games,” Hughes said. “When Danielle Olson became captain three years ago, we decided also to focus on competing in state and national competitions.

“Competition brings regional and national awareness to Viterbo and it is one of the team’s few opportunities to dance,” Hughes said.

Prior to nationals, the dance team competed at the Lacey Memorial Cheer and Dance Competition in February 2011, where they took third place and the Raider Classic in December 2011 where the team placed first in both hip-hop and pom. Both competitions were held in Wisconsin Rapids.

By placing first in hip-hop and pom at the Raider Classic, the Viterbo Dance Team won bids to compete in those sections at the AmeriCup national competition.

“We were really proud of ourselves,” said Danielle Olson a senior double major in psychology and criminal justice from Marshfield, Wis., and captain of the Viterbo Dance Team.

“We made a lot of changes in our routine for nationals based on the judges’ comments in the Raider Classic,” Olson said. “We changed some sequencing in our routines and made sure that our moves were really sharp.”

The national competition requirements for the team’s pom routine included “the use of poms in 80 percent of the routine, precision in execution and lots of synchronized group work,” Olson said.

During their pom routine at nationals was the first time that some of the team members ever got down into the splits.

“I was really proud,” Hughes said.

The team’s hip-hop routine for nationals included moves like handstands, flips, the worm, and backbends.

“We practice twice a week for three to four hours, while some of our competitors practice two times a day,” Olson said. “A lot of the girls on our team are not at Viterbo to dance, but we’re still passionate about dancing.”

At the Raider Classic the dance team also won a bid to national competitions in Orlando

“Orlando was way too expensive, so we chose to compete in Minneapolis,” Olson said.

Viterbo dance team competes at nationals

Going to Nationals cost the Dance Team a little over $2,000. SGA provided some of the funding.

“It’s the first year we’ve had funding but we did not anticipate going to Nationals and much of the money they gave us will go to send girls for training at a dance camp this summer,” Hall said.

The team designed and sold team T-shirts on campus earlier this year. The fundraiser helped to pay for new jackets and uniforms to wear for their pom routine at nationals. “But we have had to pay out of pocket for everything from shoes to tights,” Hall said. “We don’t have coaches because it would require more money. It’s the only thing holding us back from becoming a school sport instead of a club.” “Top of the line costumes can cost up to $600 a girl, and that’s not even including tights, shoes, hairpieces, or make-up,” Hall said.

After all of the traveling, hotel and costume expenses, “we’re about $1,700 short so we’ll be fundraising,” Hughes said.

The team is also planning a spring concert in the Fine Arts Center to raise money and feature the girls “in a nice solid hour of dancing instead of two minutes on the basketball court,” Hughes said.

The exact date of the spring concert is yet to be determined. When asked if the team will go back to nationals in Minneapolis next year, Hughes replied, “Absolutely. It was so professional and organized. It was wonderful.”

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