They didn’t have a coach, a budget or fancy costumes.
But gumption and a convincing audition tape landed the Oxy Dance Team in the semifinals of the Universal Dance Assn./ESPN national dance team championship at Disney World in Orlando, Fla. during winter break in January.
"We were the only team there without sequins or glitter," said cognitive science major Allison Truscheit ’08, captain of the five-year-old, 14-member squad. Once accepted into the finals last October, the team had barely a month and a half to raise $10,000 for entrance fees, travel and costumes. They earned the money by holding bake sales and doing face-painting. Their costume: plain black shorts and shirts.
The student-run team, which performs at all of the College’s football and basketball games, practiced four hours a day to prepare for the meet. Their routine, danced to The Who’s "Love Rain Over Me" and Fort Minor’s "Remembrance Name," merged ballet and jazz techniques.
The Oxy team was the only one of the squads at the competition from a school with no formal dance department. And they were slated to perform first. "It was very intimidating," Truscheit, of Plano, Texas, said. "But we had a lot of earnest passion, and the crowd loved it. We were so happy to be there."
However, the team realized that competitive dance is very different from performing at sporting events. Like competitive figure skating, certain technical feats must be incorporated into routines for a team to advance. "There’s a lot more tricks," Truscheit said. "It’s not just about the artistic choreography. It’s very technical." It also draws more from classical ballet and jazz training than from hip hop, she said.
With that new knowledge in mind, the team plans to start training earlier next year with the goal of making it into the finals, which will be broadcast on ESPN. Although she is graduating this year, Truscheit plans to stay on as the team’s coach. "We’re actually going to start recruiting dancers for Oxy and try to get a real dance program here. Maybe this could be the beginning of something," she said.
"While we were all a little disappointed not to make it to finals it did not make the experience any less amazing," said dance team member Sarah Long ’10, a sociology major from State College, Pa. "We went in with very little experience and we were all really satisfied with how we did. We are already looking forward to hopefully going again next year and having a little more of an idea of what we need to do to prepare."
Beside Truscheit and Long, the other dance team members are Stacey McShane ’08, a critical theory and social justice major from West Sacramento; Jennifer Goth ’10 of Mosman, Australia; Stephanie Tardif ’10 of Ventura; Rachel Deitch ’09 of Highland Park, Ill.; Lia Ballard ’10, a Spanish major from Oakland; Emily Adney ’09, a biology and French double major from Albany, Calif.; Brittany Banbury ’09, a kinesiology major from Land O’ Lakes, Fla.; Nicole Leung ’11 of Ma On Shan, Hong Kong; Ashley Young ’10 of Riverside, Conn.; Alyssa Cuervo ’11 of La Canada; Chloe Lee ’11 of Belmont, Mass.; and Jacquie Adorni ’11 of Kinnelon, N.J.