U of R dance team heads to Guelph for University Dance Challenge

It’s time to dance./ Elian Mikkola

Look spaghetti arms, this is my dance space

The of U of R’s dance team is headed to Guelph, Ontario for the University Dance Challenge. While varsity dance does not have an official U Sport National competition, the Terpischore Dance Challenge fills that role for the varsity dance community. The competition features 22 teams from across Canada, and also offers development opportunities from renowned choreographer, Mia Michaels. For Tea Scheske, a first-year Cougar dancer, it is an incredible opportunity.

“I am really excited; I think it’ll be a good opportunity to see people from all over the world and see how they work as a team and compared to what we do and see how we can improve and work to be the best we can be.”

Scheske did studio dance growing up, but joined the Cougars as a way to continue her dancing career through university. This is something she enjoys largely because of the community aspect.

“You have a lot more opportunities to enjoy your time and make more friends. [It’s good] to be a part of a team with people who enjoy it as much as you do, but also have fun.”

Heading into the competition, Scheske is not putting too much pressure on herself or her team.

“I think our goals are to work together to do the best that we can on stage and just be there together. We want to work together as a team and build relationships.”

Compared to studio competition, varsity dance goes fast and furious. With a short season, from September to April, teams start preparing their dances much earlier and have a short window to polish them. This is part of the challenge for one of the team’s coaches, Ashley Bernstein.

“We pretty much start comparing right in November. We start creating the dances just a little bit earlier than other teams do.”

For competition, like any sport there are rules and regulations; routines need to have certain amounts of people, and time limits as well as genre specific movements. The U of R dance team competes in all five of the major categories: tap, ballet, jazz, baton twirling, and hip hop. The competition is a competitive challenge for Bernstein’s dancers, who compete against athletes who dance full-time.

“Whenever we go out east, we know it’s going to be hard. A lot of these girls are training in dance, that’s what they’re going to school for, whereas our girls are going to school for education, nursing and a bunch of other things. We kind of feel like we are an underdog going in, but it’s really awesome for the girls to see the talent out there and strive to push themselves.”

The Cougars will be in action March 13-15.

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