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July 12, 2024

Twist and shout about the UWRF dance team

February 14, 2022

Claire Kjome and Ari Carrasco, both seniors at UW-River Falls, also play a vital role in the gears that make the Dance Team on campus keep moving.

Kjome is studying communication studies with a minor in Spanish and acts as vice president for the dance team. Her responsibilities include running practices, taking care of the budget and running all of the social media accounts. In addition to these duties she also assists with fundraising and anything else the other Presidents need.

Carrasco is double majoring in Spanish and psychology and is one of the acting presidents on the team. Her responsibilities run along the lines of foreseeing decisions and registering for a variety of different events and competitions. 

The 26 members of the Dance Team make up this club which typically meets four times a week for practices during competition season and three times a week in the off season. The workload for the team members include these two hour practices as well as some take home workouts and lifts to improve their strength.

“We want them to do the lifts and workouts twice outside of practice. However, we don’t make them send proof," says Kjome,  “We say do what you feel will help you the best and know that it will help you with dance.” The 26 members, including their five presidents, develop all of their own workouts and practice curriculum without the presence of a coach or adviser of any type, Kjome states. “I think as of my freshman year, we were the only team that competed at competition without a coach.” 

Coach or no coach, the dance team can be found performing all the skills they learn at practice at a variety of sports events on campus such as football and basketball games. They also host an annual event called Dancing with the Stars, featuring them and any partners that want to pair up and show off some dancing skills. On top of these campus events, the dance team participates in a variety of competitions, including a recent national competition that was held in Orlando, Florida. 

“We got to travel down to Orlando and compete in the ESPN Wide World of Sports National Competition,” said Carrasco. “We even get to stay in a DisneyLand resort, the ESPN Disney Resort.” The competition overall lasted two days with the team competing against a variety of different levels from across the country, including D1 teams. In their free time, the team was able to provide Disney park passes and could be found roaming the parks. Out of the 19 teams competing, only nine were going to move onto the final round of the competition. The UWRF team was only one point away from making the cut but fell slightly too short. “It was so close it was like .3,” says Kjome. 

Kjome and Carrasco have both been on the team all four years that they have been students at UWRf. Just as COVID-19 has impacted the campus in a variety of different ways, the dance team was no exception. COVID-19 stopped all of their regular performances and competitions which made making practices interesting a difficult task.

“We were one of the few clubs that got to meet over COVID time which was cool,” says Kjome. “We just worked a lot on technique, learning combos, really trying to get our style to be one.”

Carrasco explained that COVID slowing everything down allowed them to slow down, too. “Because we weren’t planning, there wasn’t any pressure.” 

The Dance Team keeps busy year round with no coach. They hold tryouts twice a year in the fall and spring to continue growing their team. Fundraisers are also hosted throughout both semesters such as car washes, Valley Scare, Chipotle and their biggest fundraiser -- Dancing with the Stars, an event that is coming up this Spring Semester. 

Both women expressed that joining the dance team has been a wonderful experience for those who have had a difficult time connecting with people since COVID happened.

“We just really want people to feel included and know that they can come and try it,” Kjome said, “especially like we’ve had girls who have never danced before, or only have one or two years. We really accept everyone and anyone.”

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