When college sports teams reach the national finals, coaches normally get the credit for leading the way, but the student-coached and student-led Texas Dance Team made it to the finals of the National Dance Alliance competition in Florida by themselves.
For the first time, Texas Dance advanced to national finals at the National Dance Alliance’s competition in April, placing seventh in open and 10th in hip-hop, publicity officer Emily Ybarbo said.
“We’re the only student-run team that competes in our division, so there’s an overwhelming feeling of excitement and pride to know that we did all that on our own,” assistant director Megan Morgan said.
Texas Dance, UT’s official competitive dance team, has existed since 1977. The team competes each year in a state competition in Dallas as well as at the national competition at Daytona Beach in Florida,
“It’s just really cool getting to go to a big place like [Florida] and representing the University of Texas,” Ybarbo said. “Everyone knows who we are … a lot of people did the ‘hook ‘em’.”
In Dallas this year, the team placed second in both hip-hop and open.
“Just seeing that improvement from year to year is really awesome,” director Kismet Cuellar said. “It made me feel really proud to be part of such a growing team.”
Texas Dance, consisting of 19 members, is entirely student-run, including fundraising and bringing in choreographers.
Members volunteer to choreograph the community performances, and local choreographers create other dances.
“My first year was a growing experience, and the team really helped me get situated into the college life because we have members from almost every major,” Cuellar said.
At Southern Methodist University in July, the team will participate in a three-day camp along with other Southern schools to become eligible to compete in nationals..
“I always knew we had it, but there was just something about this year … this was our time to make finals,” Cuellar said.