The St. Ambrose dance team proved to have no limits after competing at nationals for the first time in Ambrose history.
On Monday, April 4, the St. Ambrose varsity dance team headed down to Daytona Beach, Fla. to compete in the NCA/NDA National Championships held April 4 – 10. The dancers competed in two events, bringing home a second and 10th place victory.
“It was awesome to go because no other schools had ever heard of us,” varsity dancer Megan Fiesel said. “We came out of nowhere and surprised everyone.”
The dance team was given the chance to go to nationals after getting first place at the regional dance tournament.
“After winning regionals, we were really determined to push it to another level,” Fiesel said.
Along with first place, the St. Ambrose dance team was given a high silver bid by the National Dance Alliance. The bid allowed the dancers to compete at the national championship for a lesser cost. The National Dance Alliance paid for two of the dance team’s hotel rooms and lowered the entry fee for each dancer.
“The bid cut our cost to nationals by well over 50 percent,” varsity dancer Lisa Eaton said. “That’s one of the main reasons we were able to go.”
At nationals, the dancers first hit the stage Thursday morning where they competed in preliminaries. Only the top four teams out of seven were allowed to move on. The Ambrose dancers were ranked third which pushed them to compete in the final round.
“After preliminaries, it was all work and no play,” Eaton said. “Finals were the next day so we needed to be ready.”
Only a few short hours after competing in preliminaries, the dancers found themselves back in their dance gear. They had two intense practices in the ballroom of their hotel.
“Dancing in a carpeted hotel ballroom was definitely interesting,” Eaton said.
Finals took place Friday. The dancers first competed in the NAIA Large Dance Division with a halftime routine. The intense routine consisted of jazz, pom, and hip-hop styles of dance. Out of the six teams that competed in the division, the Ambrose dancers took second place.
“It was the most intense dance we’ve competed with all season,” Fiesel said. “Taking second place was pretty awesome.”
The dancers also competed with a hip-hip routine in the Hip-Hop II Division. Seventeen teams competed in the event which consisted of Division II, Division III, NAIA Large, and NAIA Small teams. The Ambrose dancers took 10th place.
“If it weren’t for an illegal move that we had in our dance, we would have placed better,” Eaton said.
A .5 deduction was taken from the final score because the dancers had an illegal leap-frog move in their routine. Without the illegal move, the dancers would have placed seventh.
“We were pretty bummed that we dropped three spots because of a .5 deduction,” Fiesel said.
Much of the dance team’s success has come from their new coach, Danelle Stanger. Besides scheduling early morning workouts two times a week, Stanger has upped the ante at practices, making them longer and more intense.
“No matter how good we do or how hard we work, Danelle always pushes us harder and tells us we can do better,” Eaton said. “It’s really improved our team as a whole.”
While competing at nationals was an experience of a lifetime, the dancers wish to change one thing, their means of transportation.
“The 24 hour bus ride one way was a little rough,” Eaton said. “You never know, maybe next year we’ll get to take a plane.”