CLU’s award-winning dance team placed in first at USA Nationals

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Photo contributed by Mariah Zermeno

CLU’s dance team won multiple awards and now looks forward to the future.

Anna Norwalt, Reporter

California Lutheran University’s Dance Team went to the USA Nationals Feb. 26 and Feb. 27, placing third in Jazz, fifth overall in Hip-Hop, and first in division three Hip-Hop.

The Dance Team competed Saturday and Sunday at the Anaheim Convention Center.

“We hit a lot of bumps in the road. It was a major fight and push to get us where we were,” said one of the co-captains on the team Jessica Anderson.

There were laptop malfunctions, last-minute costume alterations, and reformations in the dances.

“We had one of our teammates, Friday night she called me, we hadn’t been in contact with her that day. She was like ‘I’m just not feeling well,’ and I obviously wanted to abide by the rule of the competition and our safety measures so we decided to reformat all of our dances Saturday morning which is the day of our prelims,” said Danika Larsen, the captain of the team.

Kelly Alexander, the only freshman on the team, was asked to fill in the role of the missing senior dancer in the center of their Hip-Hop dance.

“She was in my hotel room for the weekend, and it was- I was so proud of her because she stayed up until 3 a.m. She was practicing, learning that dance, working so hard, and then the next day she jumped right in, had to figure out all these formations, had to do everything and she did such a good job,” Anderson said.

Alexander filled the role well, and the team expressed being proud of her after the competition was over.

“I was like so proud of her like being able to just say ‘yes I’m going to do this’ and like it was a very much proud team moment cause all of us were really proud of our like only freshman like stepping up to the plate being like an alternate and being like ‘this is my job, I’m gonna do it,’” Larsen said.

The team’s Hip-Hop dance can be seen on their Instagram account, which is @CLUDanceTeam.

“I think that was my favorite moment of nationals was just our last dance, our hip-hop, we just walked off and we watched the video, and we were all just screaming and jumping up and down about how great we looked. It was just such a great moment. And just hugging our freshman, Kelly, for like stepping up to the plate and like doing a great job. So that was a very special moment,” Larsen said.

The team was flexible and made adjustments when needed, showing their team cooperation.

“It was a good learning experience especially since we haven’t had a competition since my freshman year,” Anderson said.

Anderson has been on the dance team at Cal Lutheran for three years and plans to audition again for next year.

“We definitely built a community, especially this year. Cause I feel like we all missed dancing and missed that dance community, so I definitely feel like I personally have created bonds that I’m gonna like keep in contact with after graduation. Definitely life friendships,” Larsen said.

With seven people on the team graduating this year, the team of 15 will lose almost half of their members.

“We have seven seniors leaving. So, half of our team will be graduating this year so definitely will be looking for a lot of girls to come join the team,” said Mariah Zermeno, the team’s Social Media Officer.

Try-outs for the team will be held on May 1, 2022. For more information on what time, watch for updates on their Instagram.

“I’m excited for a challenge. I’m excited to meet new people. I’m excited for the team to kind of have that like spark. It’s gonna be new, there’s gonna be changes,” Anderson said.