Sacred Heart University’s Dance Team will be heading to Daytona, Florida, competing in Nationals for the Division 1 Jazz and Division 1 Hip-Hop from Thursday, April 7 to Sunday, April 9.
To be eligible to compete in Nationals, all teams must qualify first. There will be 18 teams competing in Jazz and 12 teams competing in Hip-Hop. Sacred Heart is one of the smallest schools in the division category.
The entire SHU Dance Team comprises about 40 girls, and for nationals, only 20 girls are allowed on the floor. Each girl on the national’s team has tried out for a spot previously in the fall.
“Our choreographers come at the end of the fall semester, and the girls have specific skills to work on over Christmas break. When we come back for the spring semester, we balance our practices/schedule between national’s prep and performing at all home men’s and women’s basketball games. Once basketball season is over, we go fully into national’s preparation,” said Head Coach Reina Van Florcke.
“The team practices four times a week on top of having lift twice a week, and some attend outside privates at a gymnastic place to get the skills required for the routine this year,” said Van Florcke.
The team will be traveling with 24 girls. This year 16 girls will be dancing in the jazz routine and 18 girls will be dancing in the Hip-Hop performance.
“I am thankful I chose to continue dance when I went off to college. It allows me to de-stress from reality, especially being a college student. I get to spend time with the girls, who mean a lot to my coach and me. I get to do what I love with the people who also love what we do,” said senior team co-captain Christiana Santos.
The team leaves on a late flight on Tuesday, April 5, and on Wednesday, the team will practice their routines all day.
“Being a dancer competing at nationals is very important to me as I have been competing for years and have been dancing for 19 years now. Some people don’t know the extent of what a dancer does and the athleticism you need to be a dancer, and nationals are where we can show what this sport consists of and where we are about to show what we are capable of,” said senior team co-captain Grace Triquet.
Last year the dance team made history by placing 2nd in their Hip-Hop division and 3rd in their jazz division.
“The team comes in incredibly talented from their high schools and studios, so my goal is to help them continue to grow, bond like a family, and prepare them to compete with other teams from around the country. Coaching has become a huge love of mine, and I could not picture my life without it,” said Van Florcke.
On Thursday, April 7, SHU dancers will be stepping onto the mat for their jazz performance at 11:33 a.m. On Friday, April 8, they will be performing their Hip-Hop routine at 7:37 p.m.
“We put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into our routines, have a very talented team and are excited to do what we love and leave it all on the mat this year,” said Triquet.