UK Dance Team Prepared for UDA Nationals
The UK Dance Team has been hard at work preparing their routine for the upcoming UDA College Nationals, which will take place April 27 and 28 in Orlando.
Like the rest of the country, the team has dealt with issues related to COVID-19 and the regulations that go with the virus. That has posed somewhat of a challenge, but something that the dance team has been able to overcome.
The first challenge has been the date. Normally, nationals take place in January and the team has the December-January break to prepare. This year, that’s not the case.
“Usually, we get all winter break to practice without any distractions,” said senior Nicole Kaeka. “So it’s been a little bit interesting with school going on, trying to stay on top of your schoolwork and going to dance classes.”
Senior Kaelyn Buchholz knows that the dance team members have to be efficient with their time.
“Instead of practicing during winter break, we’re practicing in the middle of school,” Buchholz said. “You have to balance exams and homework and I think time management is a much bigger deal than it usually is.”
The team’s choreographers usually come to Lexington to help the team prepare and polish the nationals’ route. Due to COVID-19, that’s not allowed this season.
“It’s been a really different process because of the whole Zoom situation,” said senior Olivia Dickerson. “Our choreographers obviously can’t come down. But it’s been really fun. All of us as teammates have really helped each other out. It’s been a good bonding experience.”
Senior Felicia Marino agrees with Dickerson.
“We are having choreography over Zoom on the giant screens in Memorial Coliseum, which is different but it’s a lot of fun,” said Marino.
Janelle McKinney has been impressed with the team’s progress in practice.
“I’m very happy where we are now,” McKinney said. “I’m really impressed with everybody.”
Junior Emily Harmon knows that it’s important for the more experienced dancers to mentor their younger teammates.
“I think it’s really important,” Harmon said. “I know how they feel, I’ve been in their shoes. I know how the older girls took me under their wings going through nationals. My goal has always been to make the freshmen feel as welcome and comfortable as I felt. They know they can text me or any of the other girls and we’ll be there in a heartbeat.”
Senior Maddie Clinch will be making her first trip to nationals and she’s very excited about going.
“It’s a lot of work,” Clinch said. “But it’s so fun and it’s awesome to spend all this time with these girls and I’m learning so much.”
Freshman Catherine Little will also be a first-timer for UK this season. Having danced since she was three years old, Little is looking forward to the new experience.
“I’ve never been to UDA nationals,” Little said. “So, I’m excited to go see how UDA does things.”
The team will perform in two categories, game day and hip hop. The dances are different, but take equally as long to prepare for, according to DaVanna Lockett.
“They both take about the same amount of time,” Lockett said. “Hip hop takes a lot longer to clean for us because it’s a two-and a-half minute dance. Gameday is three different parts and it’s only a 30-second dance, it’s easier for us to clean.”
Senior Kleine Powell knows that the team’s efforts will pay off in the end.
“It is a lot of hard work but every minute of it is worth it,” Powell said. “We practice five days a week. We do choreo and it’s super hard but it’s so worthwhile because once you get there, it’s the best feeling in the world.”
The goal, of course, is to win a national championship, something the UKDT members definitely have on their minds.
“As long as we hit our routine and we all do the best that we could, I’m proud of us no matter what we do,” Little said. “Obviously, the goal is to go there and win.”
Powell has high hopes for this year’s squad.
“Definitely to step it up from last year,” Powell said. “We always try to reach new heights. I think this year is going to be the year that we go further than we thought was possible because we found our niche and we know what we’re good at and we’re going to keep working towards that.”
Dickerson says the team’s goal is simple.
“The goal is to get the routines as clean as they can be, the best they can be for us,” she said. “And whatever happens after that, we can’t really control if we do our best.”
Through trying times and lots of hard work, the UK Dance Team is ready to compete in this year’s nationals.