Dancing to victory: Rowan Dance team’s stellar performance earns 5th place in open hip-hop at UDA Nationals

The dance team placed 5th in open hip-hop and 14th in open-jazz at the UDA Nationals in Orlando, Florida. - Photo via @rowandanceteam

While other students were busy at home packing their bags in preparation for returning to campus, members of the dance team were at Walt Disney World, dancing at the highest collegiate level. Held at Orlando Resort’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, the Universal Dance Association (UDA) Nationals is a three-day event that features dance squads from colleges and universities all over the country in various styles of performance. 

Rowan’s dance team competed in two different categories: open jazz and hip-hop. Captain Jordyn Dauter says that months of practice go into preparing their routines to ensure they can give the best performance possible.

“We practiced twice a week at the Rec Center for 3 hours at a time,” said Dauter. “From the beginning of our season, we work on our stamina and endurance so we can go all-in for those two minutes on stage.”

Things begin to get into gear right before nationals are set to begin, allowing the team to hone in on their roles and make sure their routines are perfect.

“One week before we leave for Nationals we practice every day, sometimes twice a day, this year it was around 35 hours of rehearsal that week,” said Captain Brittany Sylvester. 

Bringing on choreographers Brinley Linton and Chris Ika Sagayo for hip-hop and Emily Goy for jazz, the team put forth two very distinct, yet unique displays of movement; dramatic lifts and upbeat kicks to a medley of music compiled by Sagayo, and a slow contemporary jazz routine to the song “Find Me” by Sigma featuring Birdy. 

“Lifts and dynamics create an illusion on stage,” said Dauter. “The remix of four songs of our choice keeps our routine diverse and different from the rest of the teams.”

With a score of 80.1429, Rowan took fifth place in the open hip-hop competition, up two places from finishing seventh last year. As for open jazz, they placed 14th with a score of 82.4762. This top-five finish comes after only the dance team’s fourth time competing at nationals, while many other participating schools have been performing for much longer.

“Many other universities have been competing for ten or 15 years,” said Sylvester.  “We feel that every year the program gets stronger, and our performances are getting better and better.”

With their national performance, the dance team proved that not only are they good on the sidelines of home football games, but they can hold their own when put up against the country’s best.

“Performing with your team, especially at Nationals, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and a testament to what it is like to come together and work as one cohesive group,” said Dauter. “We are all so proud of each other and we hope to continue to grow each year.” 

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