February 2012 cover SCAN ;St. Catherine University St. Catherine University
February 2012
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In Sync and Competitive

St. Kate's dance team goes varsity.

Forget those flashy back-up dancers at pop concerts. If you want to see slick hip-hop and jazz moves for a fraction of the cost, catch St. Kate's varsity dance team.

The University added competitive dance to its intercollegiate sports lineup at the start of the 2010-11 season. The team has eight dancers this year, evenly split between first-year students and sophomores, majoring in everything from nursing to math education.

"We decided to move our dance team from club to varsity because of the growing number of high school girls who are competing in dance," says Eric Stacey, St. Kate's athletics director. "The dedication, skill and discipline it takes to be a strong dance team are exactly what we would like to teach all of our athletes."

In January, the Wildcats dance team competed for the first time at the 2012 Universal Dance Association's Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championships at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. The team went toe-to-toe with 22 other teams from across the United States in the open jazz division and 17 teams in hip-hop. The St. Kate's team was eliminated in the semi-finals.

"This competition was a chance for us to get experience and gain confidence," says Coach Shannon Kujawski, an experienced dancer and teacher in many forms of dance.

The team practices for two hours, four or five times a week from September through May. Thursday evenings are set aside for ballet lessons at a local studio. When not competing, the team performs at all home soccer and basketball games.

"Dance is the best sport because it combines athleticism and artistic beauty," Kujawski says. "Our dancers work really hard on perfecting their skills." - Pauline Oo

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For upcoming performances, check stkatesathletics.com or watch a video on the St. Kate's dance team Facebook page.