Today: Jul 17, 2024

SCSU Dance team adds new talent to roster

Bianca Jackson – Special to Southern News

Founded in 2005, the Southern Connecticut State University Dance Team has been going strong for six years now. Last Wednesday, the team held their fall tryouts. The dance team was the number one sought after club during the incoming freshman orientation in the 2008-2009 school year, according to the team’s website.

Photo Courtesy of Bianca Jackson
Kate Lis (left) and Jesse Komaromi (right) are members of the dance team.

Many freshmen still inquire about the team but don’t show up for tryouts, usually because tryouts interfere with their classes according to Head Coach Cathi Schneider, who is in her 2nd year of coaching the team. For some who need to plan ahead, the team posts the tryout information for both fall and spring semester ahead of time on their website.

On average, about 15 to 20 hopefuls do show up for the tryouts, said Schneider. The dance team currently has eight members on it, which is also the minimum that is required for the team to qualify for nationals.

Though there is a minimum, there is no maximum for Coach Schneider. “My quota is there is no quota,” said the Derby native. “I would like 15.”

A series of turns, leaps, and balances were done at the tryouts.

The team does jazz and hip-hop. Those are the big things, said Schneider. Dance technique is definitely required for the team. To have a serious ballet background is important because it makes it easier for the girls to do the moves, she said.

“The way I look at a dancer, if you have a strong ballet background, you can do anything,” said Schneider.

During the tryouts, the team warmed up the hopefuls. In regular practices, the coaches are the ones leading the warm-ups.

We have a set of warm-ups that we do to make sure everything gets warmed up, Schneider said. They stretch for 30-minutes, and then they do a ballet bar exercise, followed by across the floor drills consisting of leaps and kicks. Following that they move to the center of the floor to practice turns and their routines.

Like many other sports, the dance team participates at regional and national competitions. For SCSU’s dance team, it’s tough to find competitions. With everything that goes on, they are not able to compete in many competitions, said Schneider.

There are plenty of challenges in New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, but not in Connecticut. The team tries to do at least three or four competitions a year, she said.

The team will be hosting a competition on Feb. 17 entitled SCSU Dance Team Challenge. The competition will be open to colleges and high school teams; it will also act as a fundraiser. The team tries to help out the community as much as they can, said Schneider.

“There’s a lot of groups out there that can use the help,” Schneider continues, “It’s great and if we can get involved in it, it’s even better.”

Last year they also hosted a competition, said Kate Lis, a junior who is majoring in elementary education. This year’s competition will be better since we are getting used to hosting the competitions again, she said.

Even for someone who has been dancing for years, the nerves can still get to you at times, said Lis. For her, dance is an outlet you go to where everyone is the same and everyone knows what they’re doing.

“Being on a team is so much like, you can just feel everyone dancing around you,” said the 20-year-old junior. “It’s just a fun dynamic. It’s fun to be around.”

Jesse Komaromi has been dancing for years. She was on the dance team at Seymour High School where she was captain during her senior year. The junior, whose major is exercise science, felt the same as Lis.

“The team bonding is definitely a major plus,” said Komaromi. “Meeting everyone and becoming so close, everyone is like my second family, it’s easy because everyone shares the same passion – dance.”

Komaromi’s second family was a big help, motivating her to not give up after an ankle injury last year. “I was terrified and still do get scared because I went through such a traumatic thing,” she said.

”I’ve been having a really hard time getting back,” she said, “but everyone convinced me to stay and told me I just need time to get better, I’m glad I didn’t quit, I would have regretted it.”

With practice being held Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for three hours each day, the new teammates will have more than enough time to bond with Lis, Komaromi and the rest of the girls.

After the tryouts, 6 of the 7 who auditioned made the team. The SCSU Dance Team is now a team of 12.

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