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Photos by Victoria Graff, and property of Schurz Communications, Inc., and vaughtsviews.com. All rights reserved; images may not be reprinted in print or online without permission of the owners. Reprinted images must be attributed to vaughtsviews.com and linked to the original site.
The University of Kentucky Dance Team finished in the top 10 in national competition for hip hop and pom routines, and performed its competition hip hop routine recently before a home game crowd at Rupp Arena. Photos by Clay Jackson, and property of Schurz Communications, Inc., and vaughtsviews.com. All rights reserved; images may not be reprinted in print or online without permission of the owners. Reprinted images must be attributed to vaughtsviews.com and linked to the original site.
Thank you to everyone for all of your support and interest in the UK dance team during UDA Nationals 2013. We are truly blessed to have such a great support system back home!! This Nationals was absolutely my favorite of the three I have competed at with Kentucky Dance Team. This team was something else and the experiences we had together were completely amazing! I’m sure most of you all heard we received 8th place for our Pom routine and 6th place for our Hip Hop routine!! TOP 10 in the nation!! I think that’s pretty amazing!! We put in such hard work this season and it definitely paid off. The competition this season in both divisions was extremely tough. Teams really brought their A-game this season with great intensity and amazing choreography. The most flattering part of the competition was hearing other teams talk about how amazing Kentucky was this year and how we really brought it. I’m completely honored to be apart of something as great as Kentucky Dance.
Finals morning was a whirlwind. FInals was Sunday and we were to compete in Hip Hop first and then Pom later on. We woke up, put our costumes on, got prepared and took a bus over to the HP Field House. We headed backstage to warm up before going onto the floor. Shortly after a couple of run-throughs, one of our teammates suffered an injury. My coach called in our alternate, Morgan, and she came running to the warm-up area, hopped right into place, warmed up her tricks, and headed backstage with the team. Luckily, she knew the spot she was taking over! It was truly amazing. Our team kept calm and knew everything was going to be alright. We waiting backstage for a couple more teams to perform and then took the stage. UKDT ran out of the UDA castle with confidence and determination to nail our Hip Hop dance. We danced with the best of our ability and left everything on the floor!! Our coaches ran backstage after the performance to congratulate us and celebrate about how great of a performance we gave. We were so excited. When we were through watching the replay backstage, we walked back to the venue. To our surprise we were greeted in a Catwalk by all of our UK Cheerleaders clapping and cheering us on. It was truly one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. We hugged and thanked them so much for coming to support us. It was an emotional time.
The day wasn’t over yet. We still had to get our minds right to perform Pom. We went back to the hotel, relaxed a little, and then got back in the zone to perform. We stretched and warmed up just like we did Hip Hop. This was our last performance of the competition and we were ready to dance with all that we had left. Backstage we huddled up, got each other pumped up, and then took the UDA finals stage once again. We performed as a team and cheered each other on as we danced! Once again, it was a great feeling as we ran off that stage! We watched the replay on the screen and were extremely proud of our performance!
I absolutely love my team and I’m so proud of us this year! Earning top 10 in the nation is especially something to be proud of! Especially with the amount of competition we are up against. We devote our time to Kentucky dance because we love it. We love our teammates and the bond we share, our coaches, the University and sports, and especially getting the opportunity to enjoy dancing on the collegiate level.
Performing at nationals this year was especially important to me because I suffered an injury in the beginning of the school year. In August I broke my ankle. On August 30 I had to get surgery to properly heal my ankle. I have a plate and six screws in my right ankle. I was out of dance a total of three and half months, missing football season, Big Blue Madness, the beginning of basketball season, and a lot of performances and opportunities to dance. I attended every dance practice and performance while I was injured. I was on crutches for two months in a splint and cast, a boot for a while and eventually started walking on my own again in the middle of November. I attended physical therapy twice a week in November and eventually was officially cleared to dance again December 5. It was one of the best days of my life. I was FINALLY able to do what I loved again–it was a long time coming. From there I worked extremely hard to get back to where I was before my injury. Nationals practices were picking up and once finals ended they were every day. I was able to quickly pick skills back up–turning, jumping, and doing tricks again. I kept my eyes on the prize and focused primarily on what I wanted–to dance in both Hip Hop and Pom at UDA Nationals 2013. I was originally only performing in Hip Hop for Nationals and worked my way from not being in Pom, to being an alternate, to eventually being placed in the formation. With determination, persistence, and the will to keep going I was able to accomplish my goals. Looking back at my journey, it is truly amazing and humbling to know I could do it. You really can do whatever you put your mind to. Because of this personal accomplishment, performing at Nationals and UKDT’s placement at Nationals means so much to me.
Thank you for following my version of UKDT’s journey at UDA Nationals 2013. Now you have a little more insight into the lives, performances, and practices of the UK Dance Team. Thank you for BBN’s support throughout Nationals! Thank you to my team, coaches, parents, fans, and more! Special thanks to the UK Cheerleaders for being our biggest fans this season and supporting us at every performance. Congratulations to the UK Cheerleaders for placing second at UCA Nationals 2013!! Their routine was one of a kind!!
If you are interested in watching UDA/UCA Nationals you can watch the Championship Coverage at www.varsity.com. Just type Kentucky in the search bar! UKDT is also performing its Hip Hop routine at the UK vs. LSU game this Saturday, January 26.
Until next year!!
By CHRISTIE HORAN
Thank you everyone for all the fabulous support and feedback and positive thoughts!! UKDT has officially made it through to both Pom and Hip Hop finals!! We are so pumped and so excited to dance even harder tomorrow!
With the excitement of making it into Pom finals and determination to make it through to Hip Hop finals, we were ready to impress everyone with our great Hip Hop routine. We performed 26th out of 26 teams and decided to use that to our advantage–saving the best for last! As we were backstage getting ready to take the floor, we could hear the cheerleaders cheering GO BIG BLUE!! That pumped us up even more! We took the floor with confidence and danced with all our hearts. We hit a hard, clean, crazy routine, leaving everything on the floor!! We were proud of how we danced and so were Dawn and Andrea, our amazing coaches. Our choreographer Julie was there to watch and was extremely proud of us as well!
A little while later UDA announced the list of teams who made it into finals. There were 13 teams called in no particular order. Our name was the last one called! We were so nervous but once we heard University of Kentucky we erupted in cheers!
After prelims we were able to relax a little and take a trip to the Magic Kingdom. We rode the merry-go-round to past time before dinner (space mountain’s line was too long) and ate at Liberty Hall. UKDT had so much fun, telling jokes and making each other laugh. We get along so well and always have fun every where we go!! My team is awesome.
Tomorrow we perform Hip Hop around 12pm and Pom around 4pm in the HP Field House at the Wide World of Sports. We can’t wait to run out of the castle and dance even better than we did today!
The Kentucky cheerleaders will advance into finals tomorrow!! They performed tonight as well and delivered a phenomenal performance!! UKDT would like to give a HUGE thank you to the cheerleaders for coming to support us and cheer us on today!! It truly helped us perform even better. We can’t wait to cheer them on and support them at finals tomorrow!
Thank you for keeping up with the Kentucky Dance Team! I can’t wait to update BBN tomorrow with our final results!!
Good morning from Orlando!
By CHRISTINA HORAN
We touched down in Disney. Yesterday we headed to the ESPN Wide World of Sports where we practiced at the Josten’s center. We had a great practice! We practiced with confidence and even got a few impressed looks from the other teams.
This morning we woke up at 5:30am and got ready to perform Pom at prelims. We performed at 8:54!! We felt the energy from the team and from the crowd as well. We did great and everything hit with room for it to be even better tomorrow.
Right now were waiting to hear the order for finals tomorrow. We can’t wait to perform hip hop later on around 3. Wish us luck!!
GO CATS!!! #UKDT
For more instant updates please follow @KentuckyDance on Twitter and like University of Kentucky Dance Team on Facebook!!
It’s the night before we head to UDA Nationals and I’m incredibly excited!! I just finished getting ready for the weekend and packing my suitcases. UKDT will board a plane in Cincinnati tomorrow morning and land in Orlando early in the afternoon. We had our last performance at the UK Hoops game tonight and our last practice shortly after. Both Pom and Hip Hop teams are confident and ready to compete!
I wanted to take this blog to say a huge THANK YOU to our coaches Dawn Walters and Andrea Masters! You each put an enormous amount of your time, energy, and heart into our team and it is truly appreciated! More than you know. Every bit of coaching, running practices, mixing music, searching for and ordering costumes, watching hours of video, reviewing hours of film, cleaning dances, choreographing dances, creating spirit videos, updating Facebook, traveling, and much, much more mean so much to us! Thank you!! We couldn’t ask for better coaches!
Thank you to the University for allowing for us to participate and compete in such a prestigious and special event.
UKDT is more than ready for Nationals this year. We can’t wait for all of our hard work to pay off! I’ll be blogging more updates, stories, and pictures throughout the weekend.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Seniors Haley Imel of Bluffton, Ind., and Brittany Fiel of Oswego, Ill., are University of Kentucky dance team members who will be competing in the national championships this weekend in Orlando with their teammates.
Imel’s journey to UK is a little out of the ordinary.
“I am a second year member of the UK dance team and I will graduate in May with a Bachelors in Exercise Science and hope to continue my schooling to become an athletic trainer,” Imel said. “I am from a small town in northeast Indiana (Bluffton) where I attended Norwell High School. As a 16 year old, I graduated high school a year early and moved to Louisville to follow my dreams of being a Louisville cheerleader.
“After one year of being there, I made the decision to transfer to Kentucky and continued to follow my cheerleading dreams. After one more year cheering I decided it was time to go back to dance. I have danced since I was 5 as a recreational dancer and a competitive company studio dancer. It was not until college that I had ever been on an actual dance team. These past two years as member of the UK dance team have been wonderful and it was a great way to end out my first four years of college.”
Fiel is majoring in Merchandising, Apparel and Textiles.
Both shared these thoughts on their dance team experiences and this weekend’s competition.
Question: How did you become a member of the UK dance team and what made you want to do that?
Imel: “I have danced my whole life and it’s something that will always be a part of my life. I was originally a member of the University of Kentucky Cheerleading team but after suffering a back injury that no longer allowed me to tumble, I decided to go back to dance. Which, I might add was a GREAT decision!”
Fiel: “I tried out to become a member of the team going into my sophomore year at UK. After taking a year off of dance I realized I had to start again. Seeing the team at football and basketball games as a freshman made me realize even more how great of an opportunity being on the UK Dance Team would be.”
Question: What’s the best part of being on the team?
Imel: “The best part of being on the University of Kentucky Dance Team is getting to meet so many new people. You spend so much time together as a team that your teammates become your sisters and your lifelong friends. What’s better than dancing all day everyday with some of your best friends?”
Fiel: “I love being able to represent the University of Kentucky by doing what I love to do. I’m truly blessed and honored to be able to cheer on the Wildcats with such an amazing group of girls.”
Question: What’s one thing you wish more people knew about the dance team?
Imel: “I wish more people knew that we were not on scholarship, that we do this because we love the University and we love to dance! Most people just assume that because we dance we get the benefits of being a student-athlete. We are athletically funded but our schooling is not paid for. To most of us, this doesn’t even matter because of how much fun we have supporting our teams at events, making appearances, and getting to meet some pretty cool people!”
Fiel: “The UK Dance Team is so much more than dancing at halftime games. We have a passion for dancing, but also for community service, each other, and life after college. Being on the team has taught me countless life lessons that I may not have known otherwise.”
Question: Is it hard to always keep a smile on your face at games, especially during football season when the team was not winning and the weather was not always great?
Imel: “Sometime it is hard to keep a smiling face and try to pump up the fans when the game isn’t going how we want it to or the weather is not good. But because we are a crazy group of girls, we can always find a way to have fun out of the worst situations and this makes smiling and being peppy so much easier.”
Fiel: “It wasn’t. Regardless of the outcome we cheered on the Wildcats with a huge smile on our faces because we love to support our teams.”
Question: What has been your best memory as a dance team member?
Imel: “It’s so hard to pick just one favorite memory even though this is only my second year as a member. The first one that comes to mind was our 2013 Hip Hop Nationals Choreography. This was one long hard day where we practiced from 5 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.! By midnight we were loopy! I honestly couldn’t explain how we managed to remember what we were learning after that time. At one point the lights went out and being the scaredy-cats that we are, we got really quiet…and we are NEVER quiet! (I guess Coach Dawn knows how to make us stop talking now!) During our loopy phase we started chanting, “Push through it, push through it. Don’t lay on the ground, don’t fall asleep”. I don’t think any other team on campus could have as much fun practicing till 2:30 in morning as we did!
Fiel: “I don’t think I could narrow it down to one. Overall, the experiences I have been given as a member of the UK Dance team have changed my life. One of my favorite things about the team is how our bonds continue to grow. We really are best friends, and I think that once I graduate, that will become my most cherished memory.”
Question: How do you feel the team will do at nationals this year?
Imel: “This year I feel like we are in a very strong place as we head to nationals. We’ve spent the last month working very hard on our two routines and we have goal to place in top 5 for both. I feel that with our talent and determination this is more than possible this year!
Fiel: “I think we all have a great feeling about competing this year. Our team has a very special bond and work ethic that I believe can take us to the highest placement the UK Dance Team has ever reached.”
By CHRISTIE HORAN
I want to thank everyone who came out to support and watch UK dance team perform our Nationals routines last night!! The crowd was absolutely amazing, cheering us on and even giving us a standing ovation! It was a great feeling! Preview is one of my favorite annual dance team events because it gives a chance for family, friends, and UKDT alumni to come see all of the hard work and passion UKDT has put into its nationals routines. It’s truly a humbling experience and reminds me of how many people are routing us on!
UKDT performed two routines with great skill and energy last night. In order to make the routines even stronger we practiced both before and after preview. This team is so motivated to do well at nationals, we’ll work until the routines are the best they can be.
Our team this year is one of a kind. My teammates are each other’s best friends; we encourage each other in and out of practices, help each other work on skills and tricks, and push each other to do our best during routines and practices. But unlike normal best friends, a team works towards a goal. The goal, doing phenomenal at UDA Nationals, takes hard work, time, sacrifice, dedication, passion, and much more. I believe my teammates have that whole package, not to mention we have so much fun practicing and hanging out with each other! Awkward dancing, quoting the movie Pitch Perfect, and conversations about how weird everyone on the team is are a few of UKDT’s specialties. Our love for dance and for our team shines through both our Pom and Hip Hop routines.
Thank you again to all the family, friends, and fans of UKDT who came our to Memorial Coliseum last night to watch us perform! We are so blessed to have an incredible amount of support. All of us are so excited to get down to Orlando this weekend and run out of the famous castle onto the UDA finals stage! If you are interested in watching a live feed of UDA/UCA Nationals finals, you can! Here is a link (http://varsity.com/event/
Thanks a lot and GO CATS!