The Utah Valley Dance team has come out on top for the second year in a row at the Varsity Universal Dance Association (UDA) Division l Jazz national competition. The team, consisting of eight returning dancers and 10 newcomers, were once again recipients of the Division I national title in jazz and scored an additional win in the pom category.
“The best part about competing is coming off the floor knowing that my team and I hit the routine and seeing my coach’s happy face,” said dance captain and senior Kirsten Stout. “Accomplishing our goal of winning two titles was the best feeling I’ve ever felt. This was my last year on the team so it was my last time ever competing … I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome”
To prepare for such a huge competition, the team begins working through the necessary procedures months in advance.
“We start preparing for nationals at auditions,” said pom captain Sam Taylor, a senior. “Our coach Bri looks for girls to put on the team with nationals in mind.”
All dancers go to a four-day UDA camp in July. Daily two-hour practices Monday through Thursday double during the semester break. The team practices up to 30 hours a week during the month before competition.“Everything we do matters leading up to nationals in January,” said dance co-captain and sophomore Kylie Barney.
Besides participation in all practices, team members must do their own part to ensure their individual readiness for UDA, whether it’s practicing routines on their own time or watching videos to embed choreography into their minds.
To help herself prepare, team president Allyson Despain, junior, starts to eat healthy and organizes her schoolwork in order to focus on improving her performance. Vice president Annie Bunker, a sophomore, “practice[s] getting in the right headspace so when I get to nationals, I already know what to do.”
As returning champions, nerves and excitement are high for every team member. “The rush and adrenaline is through the roof” according to Taylor. Each team member plays a role in staying motivated and together by supporting one another and pumping themselves up before hitting the dancefloor. Every effort contributes to producing the best performance possible. The overall goal, as coach Bri Sorenson puts it “is hitting that stage with confidence and power and pride in who we are as a team and coming off with no regrets”.