The oldest continuously published high school newspaper in America

The Willistonian, Est. 1881

The oldest continuously published high school newspaper in America

The Willistonian, Est. 1881

The oldest continuously published high school newspaper in America

The Willistonian, Est. 1881

College Cheer and Dance Competition Generates Excitement, Scandal

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Credit: Instagram

Some may think the time of college championships are over until the spring, but for the nation’s collegiate dance teams, it’s just getting started.

The 2024 Universal Dance Association (UDA) Collegiate Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship took place from January 13 to January 15 at the Walt Disney Hotel and Resort in Orlando, Florida. The event hosted more than 300 schools from 48 states, and celebrated an aspect of collegiate sports that is often overlooked: the artists behind halftime and timeout shows.

The competition is broken into three categories and three rounds, eliminating schools as they move from preliminaries to semi-finals to the finals. The three categories on which schools are judged, each school having a different routine per category, are Hip-Hop, Jazz, and Pom.

Each category is judged based on the same three points; the routine’s execution (movement, synchronization, spacing and communication), choreography (creativity and musicality, routine staging, complexity of movement, and difficulty of skills), and their overall impression. Out of 100, the teams have a chance to gain 10 points per checkmark they fill, with half points and decimals in play as well.

Each year, the event is livestreamed and film casted, allowing spectators to tune in from all over the world. Named “the most prestigious collegiate national championship in the country” by Varsity.com, the results from the competition always generates excitement, and this year is no different.

Nick Sobon, a senior day student from South Hadley, Mass., and a captain of Williston’s Dance Ensemble, thinks the end results don’t reflect the performances.

“Ohio State … I just didn’t think it was at the same caliber that Minnesota was,” Nick said.

The Ohio State University got first place in the 1A Jazz Category, winning the championship with their routine to “My Way” by Frank Sinatra. The routine, which spurred a frenzy on social media due to its use of red neckties and jackets  used as active props, scored a 98.9206/100, just beating the University of Minnesota Twin City’s score of 98.4286/100.

Nick also pointed out a controversy within Ohio State’s win surrounding their choreographer, Travis Wall, who, according to the New York Post, is one of many dance instructors formerly employed by Break The Floor Dance Company that has been accused of sexual assault and harassment.

“Travis Wall has serious accusations against him, and has been dropped by several dance organizations because of grooming, sexual assault allegations, etc,” Nick explained, “and they brought him in to choreograph a dance.”

Wall has been accused of “alleged inappropriate sexual propositions, unsolicited nude photographs, sexual harassment, and sex acts” by more than eight former students, according to Yahoo News.

“It is very telling that they don’t care about actual morality, but more about what’s gonna win the points,” Nick said.

Travis Wall originally gained fame off of his appearance on the early 2000s hit tv show “So You Think You Can Dance.” An Emmy award winner for his choreography contributions, Wall most recently appeared as a guest artist on a masterclass tour for the dance company Break The Floor. Yet, Wall was removed from the tour after various allegations of sexual harassment and grooming were made against him and other Break The Floor employees. Break The Floor has since hired a third party investigator to inquire about the accusations.

“I feel like it’s reflective of them … and like you can’t have that in the arts … it has to be a safe space for the dancers, and they just like did not prioritize that,” Nick said.

Aside from the controversy, Nick is happy with the attention the overall competition is garnering.

“It’s not just people who are interested in dance or just dancers,” he said. “It’s like, a lot of people that are just genuinely interested in the art, the sport, etc, people who just love to watch.”

Andie Kinstle, a senior day student from Easthampton, Mass., watched the competition from a non-dancer’s point of view, but still enjoyed it.

“I’m not really upset by the outcome because I think they were all good dances,” Andie said. “I don’t really know how to judge technique or anything like that, but from like an entertainment standpoint, the one that I found the most interesting was probably U Mich [The University of Michigan], so it did surprise me that they were fifth.”

The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor scored a 94.6349/100 on their jazz performance, a piece to “Million Reasons” by Lady Gaga. Critiques of the performance cited incoordination and lack of musicality, both of which Andie disagrees with.

“I liked how the music would build and [their] movements would build with that, and I felt like some of the other ones did not have that as much,” she said. “I don’t know how that contributes to technique or anything like that, but I just thought U Mich was the most interesting to watch as a non-artist.”

The Louisiana State University Lady Tigers won their second consecutive national title in the 1A Hip Hop Category, following up last year’s winning performance to “Like A Boy” by Ciara, with this years’ of “Smooth Criminal” by Michael Jackson. The Lady Tigers scored 97.2222/100, followed by University of Nevada Las Vegas in second place with a score of 96.482/100.

The final results of the competition are as follows:

1A Jazz:

  1. Ohio State University
  2. University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  3. Louisiana State University

1A Pom:

  1. University of Minnesota Spirit Squad
  2. Ohio State University
  3. Pennsylvania State University Park

1A Hip-Hop

  1. Louisiana State University
  2. University of Nevada Las Vegas
  3. University of Memphis
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    Terry L WilmerJan 23, 2024 at 5:34 PM

    It sounded like everyone had a real good time!💕🎊💕

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