If you’ve ever been to a UC Davis football or basketball game, at some point you’ve most likely heard the following cry over the PA system: “Make some noise for the UC Davis Da-a-ance Team!!”
While these ladies may only be the main attraction during halftime and timeouts during the games, they will take center stage this Friday and Saturday night at the fifth annual UC Davis Dance Team Showcase.
“We’re on campus at various events throughout the entire year,” said senior co-captain and exercise biology major Shannon Thompson. “But that’s us supporting another team. This is our show.”
The showcase will be held at Veterans Memorial Theatre at 23 Russell Blvd., starting at 7 p.m. both nights. A silent auction will also take place, with items up for bid ranging in everything from wine bottles to Kaplan prep courses to signed High School Musical memorabilia. But the main feature of the show will be the dance team’s performance.
“It’s different types of dancing than what we do at games,” said Thompson. “It’s not strictly hip-hop or jazz; there’s also contemporary and ballet. It really shows the diversity of the dancers on this team.”
The showcase is the largest fundraiser of the year for the dance team, with the main purpose being to raise money toward sending the team to the National Dance Team Championship in Orlando, Florida. While the total amount raised each year varies, it typically falls in the range of $4,000 to $6,000. The cost of attending the national competition approximates $16,000, with the rest of the funds coming from the athletics department and out of the team members’ pockets.
But while dancing and going to Orlando may seem like fun and games, being a dance team member is hard work. At the minimum, the squad practices three times a week for two hours during the football and basketball seasons, but generally ramps up practices when other events are on the schedule.
“They’re pretty much like an intercollegiate athletics team,” said Aggie Pack emcee and senior political science major Chris Perry, who will also be emceeing the showcase. “They spend a lot of time [practicing] and the entire spirit squad really goes the extra mile in supporting our teams.”
While their schedules might resemble that of a UC Davis athlete, it comes with far fewer perks. Unlike athletes, dance team members do not get priority registration when signing up for classes, making it more difficult to schedule practice around classes. Also, unlike football or basketball, there is no real “season” for the team. The dance team begins practicing in August and is active all the way through the end of May.
“We had to stay in Davis during winter break to learn our choreography for nationals,” said captain Alison DeGuzman, senior psychology and communication double major. “We had all day practices from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. with breaks in between.”
And just like the athletics teams they cheer for, this year the dance team also made the transition to Division I. Nationals this past January was the first time the UC Davis Dance Team competed against other Division I schools.
“In Open Division (before the transition), we definitely dominated,” DeGuzman said. “We always got at least third place for jazz and hip-hop. We were the national champions for Open Division in 2004.”
But the squad rose to the challenge. Out of 25 teams, UC Davis was one of three schools to compete in both the jazz and hip-hop divisions and finished in sixth and ninth places, respectively.
Further success is undoubtedly on the horizon for this group of Aggies. But DeGuzman and Thompson, who have seven years of dance team experience between them, agree that the companionship and camaraderie within the team is what makes the experience so special.
“Most of my best friends throughout my college life have been on the dance team,” said DeGuzman. “A lot of us become life long friends. [The friendships] are why girls love to be on the team.”
To donate to the UC Davis Dance Team or to purchase tickets for the showcase, call 757-3134.
EDDIE LEE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.