Joy and pride abound as team members recount their challenging but successful time in Guelph
The University of Regina’s dance team recently returned from Guelph, Ontario for the University Dance Challenge. The dance competition consisted of the team hitting the stage with disciplines in tap, lyrical, hip-hop, jazz, and contemporary; all in categories of solo, duos, and small group sessions.
The team hit the stage strong, hard, and competitively. In each area of the competition, dancers came out with scores of either superior, high superior, or outstanding. Even all the small groups came back with a score of outstanding!
Now that we have a feeling of how the team did, let’s get a bit of an insight into the competition itself. Paige Baker, Hayden Wagner, and Kayla Weir from the dance team all sat down for interviews. To start us off, they wanted to tell us their history in dance and what got them into dancing at the university level.
Wagner started dancing at the age of four at Dance City, and took part in all the styles. She loved it and did all the way up to grade 12, then she completed her dance exams, and after high school she found the U of R dance team.
Baker also started at the age of four and, at first, things were rough. She did not like dance. As she grew older and moved around Saskatchewan, she rejoined and danced to all sorts of styles and started to gain a love for the sport. Baker joined the U of R dance team at the end of 2020 and has been involved since.
Weir has been dancing for about 15 years and has been working through almost all the disciplines that her school of dance offers. Previously, she spent time dancing at Martin School of Dance.
Now that we know how each of these girls got to dancing at this level, let’s learn why each of them dance. Common themes from the responses of all three stated they dance as it allows them to express feelings and emotions and escape reality for a while. It is a way to tell stories in a dramatic way, so they each use it to show and share what they are feeling.
“Escape from all reality and all of what is going on, […] dance is somewhere you can go and be by yourself, and the nice thing about dance is there is no real right or wrong way. You can just play music and dance however you want to but still be able to express and release how you are feeling,” Baker summarized beautifully.
All these women are driven by emotion to dance. Let’s transition into what feelings they had this past weekend when dancing in this competition. It was a hard one for the University of Regina’s team.
Almost all the other schools that they competed against this weekend were dancing as a part of their degree, which differs from our university’s team makeup. “Lots of the girls we were competing against are going to school, dancing every day to get a dance degree, diploma, or arts degree. They train every day, whereas for us, it is something that we do on a Sunday. Other things come before it. My degree – my homework – comes before dance, whereas for them, dance is their homework,” Baker noted.
That is some scary competition by the sounds of it, though that did not stop our team! The University of Regina dance team all came together with positivity. “It all came down to your mindset because we have such a big dynamic, and team dynamic really helped.” Baker mentioned that even when individuals were competing against each other in the same solo competitions, the dancers didn’t let the goal of winning come between them and their teammates.
“Even soloists who competed in the same category against others, whoever gets first, yay! Whoever gets second is also good! […] It eliminates that individualist view.” Regarding what Baker said, this team especially highlighted working together as a team for themselves, and not passing judgment based on who won or lost, just being proud.
“It does not matter what the other teams are doing. It does not matter how amazing they are. We have to do this for ourselves, and we should not compare ourselves to other people. […] Being able to appreciate how amazing other people are and separate ourselves and appreciate ourselves too,” Wagner said. How does that not make you want to be a part of this team? Let’s appreciate others’ forms of art, work, and dedication, and let’s also appreciate our own.
After getting to know a bit about the mindset, dedication, and work that went into this weekend, I wanted to understand how each of them feels about their own performance in certain categories. Each of the small groups came out with a final mark of outstanding, which is the highest category you can fall under.
When asked how dancing in a duo compares to solo performances, Baker said “One thing you learn is how big you must make things on stage and still acknowledge those around you. You have to line up with what they are doing, have the same expression and energy, and look like one.”
Weir not only danced in a solo and duo performance, she choreographed both, which is big. “For a solo, I just kind of found that because I was doing it by myself, I had to do it for myself. I didn’t really care what the judges thought of it or others. […] At the end of the day and in the moment coming off stage, I cared about how I felt good about it and with my own heart.”