UVDT: Making their mark at Nationals
Reading Time: 3 minutes The Utah Valley Dance Team competed at the UDA National Competition in Orlando, Florida where they took top three in hip-hop and jazz.
Utah Valley University Athletics is coming off yet another successful year in the sports industry from multiple WAC titles, championship appearances, and national attention. To kick off 2024, the department is picking up where it left off with two top-three finishes at nationals.
Competing against 36 teams, the Utah Valley Dance Team (UVDT), coached by Jamie Crowther, was awarded runner-up in Division One Hip Hop and third place in D1 Jazz, at the Universal Dance Association (UDA) National Competition in Orlando, Florida.
In addition to their success at nationals this year, the UVDT are 13-time National Champions and were the 2023 NDA D1 Hip Hop and NCA/NDA D1 Game Day National Champions.
“I really love that I get to work with some of the top athletes in the country and experience them do what they are good at,” Crowther said. “They are just the weirdest, kindest, best humans I have ever met.”
Crowther, completing her fourth year as the coach, has been dancing since she was young and is a former collegiate athlete herself. Crowther has coaching experience at the high school and collegiate level.
“We do everything we can to place in the top group, it is never something you expect but something you are working towards,” Crowther said about finishing top three. “The judges felt that we needed a little to work on and we can go back and do our best again.”
Crowther said that a lot of the credit for the team’s success goes to the team captains.
“Kenzie, our jazz captain, has a way of making the dance both athletic and artistic and finding the artistic of the beautiful and tough, while Peyton has a way of motivating everyone to go bigger and go harder every time.”
Competing for the national title each year can be taxing, and dance team president Kaelyn Arndt-Smith was well aware of the target the team had on their back.
“This year we decided to travel back to UDA to defend our name and make history once again. We knew that walking into a new competition with a whole new team, doing Hip Hop for the very first time at UDA was going to be challenging, but we were more than prepared for that,” Arndt-Smith said. “When I walked on the stage for the very last time my heart was beating a million miles per minute and I was shaking I was so nervous, but once we were finished all we could do was jump up and down in excitement and cry with tears of joy.”
Crowther said a lot of the success from the team came in many places they did not expect.
“Some of our rookies became our soloists. They were able to take those spots and they did an incredible job with it and stepped up. You would never know they were rookies,” Crowther stated. “It just proves we chose the right ones.”
The UVDT has plenty to boast of, and Crowther is aware of their efforts.
“I just want my team to know how ridiculously proud I am of everything they did this year and everything they are as a team.”
Crowther said that the team puts in the effort during the season, practicing from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. every morning which allows the athletes to still make it to class, hold jobs, and do things they love to do outside of dance.
In addition to the general free time, the athletes are also all on scholarship, allowing them to be clear-minded about finances when it comes to tuition. This includes the Cheer Team, and the Green Man Group who are all scholarship members.
The UVDT is looking to sauté into a new year with their Spring Intensive Workshop which is on Feb. 24, 2024.
The intensive is an introductory way for dancers who are interested in auditioning to get noticed and experience the UVDT style and what it means. The workshop will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the 24th at the Sorenson Student Center in the Grand Ballroom. The cost is $75; you can pay the fee here, and sign up for the intensive here.
Quoting their website, “The UVU Dance Team serves as ambassadors through competitions, performances, and appearances. They pride themselves in supporting UVU Athletics and being representatives of the university on and off campus. The UVU Dance Team brings spirit and UVU pride wherever they go.”
Whether it is a halftime performance, national championship appearance, or practice, the UVDT is committed to its 100% effort regardless the stature of the routine
Nathan Dunn is the Sports Editor for the UVU Review. After three years at Utah State, Nathan is majoring in Public Relations and Digital Media at Utah Valley University. In his free time, Nathan likes to watch all sports but mostly College Football. Nathan works hard to give the best sports content to UVU fans, media, and students.