Dance Team dazzles to first place among Division III teams in nationals


Photo contributed by Kaila Hunley

This marks the second year in a row that the dance team was the highest placed Division III team in the hip-hop routine.

Sara Topliff, Reporter

The California Lutheran University Dance Team placed first among the Division III teams at the 2023 USA Collegiate Championships.

“It went so well…honestly the best time we’ve ever had and I think the best we’ve ever performed. Everyone was working super hard and they were so focused the whole time,” senior Jessica Anderson, team captain of the Dance Team, said.

At the Anaheim Convention Center on Feb. 25 and 26, the Cal Lutheran team performed a jazz and a hip-hop routine against Division I, II and III teams. In the hip-hop division, Division I, II and III teams competed against each other and in the jazz division, Division II and III teams competed.

The Dance Team’s jazz routine got third place and their hip-hop routine placed seventh overall. In the end, they were the highest-placed Division III team in the hip-hop routine.

Anderson said that she was very happy with the outcome and how the dance team did at the competition.

“Everyone on our team this year has a really good attitude and a really positive work ethic so it makes our job as being captain a lot easier…they’re so receptive and they’re willing to work with us so that made nationals a lot more fun and a lot more enjoyable,” Anderson said.

Anderson said that the dance team does not have a coach, which means they are a student-run team. Despite the added responsibility, Anderson said being student-run gives her and her two co-captains, junior Kaila Hunely and senior Katelyn Deaton, a lot of freedom to make their own decisions for the team.

“We got some really nice costumes, we got really nice Nikes and we did something that was kind of out of the ordinary for our team. We danced in hats and we’ve never danced in that before,” Anderson said.

Hunley said the dance team has prepared for this competition since last November and held auditions for both routines. She said they practiced every week until nationals and had a short “hell week” after winter break when everyone returned to campus.

“This year, since the first day of hell week, we’ve all been best friends–like every single person on the team–so we already went into nationals knowing we were gonna have so much fun,” Anderson said.

Senior Taryn Gaulke said she was not nervous going into nationals because the team’s connection allowed them to perform better.

“I wasn’t worried at all, honestly…we just have that dynamic between each other,” Gaulke said.

The dance team has two more performances before the end of the year, their annual Dancing with the Stars event on March 25 and a showcase on April 15.