Walking towards the West Gym on a Thursday night between sounds of basketballs being dribbled, you may catch the sound of music playing on loudspeakers. Students, professors, parents, and alumni that have come out to support the girl’s basketball team are watching a performance by the SFU Athletics Dance Team, a group of 25 members who practices together and often perform at SFU events and events in the surrounding community.
The SFU Athletics Dance Team has been around since Fall 2014, when two since-graduated students, Allison Sidnell and Caitlin McMahon, created it. Members of the team describe it as “a place for students to continue dancing throughout university” as well as an opportunity to improve your skills, perform, and make new friends who share a passion for dance. Zoe Crane and Amberlee Allen, the current co-captains, have been with the team from the very beginning. The rest of the executive team includes executive assistants Kaitlyn Cooper and Enya Dyck, choreographers Nicole Brice-Elion and Nadia Rodrigues, and trainer Hannah Davis.
When asked to name their favourite things about the team, executive assistant Cooper said, “My favourite thing about the team is getting to perform at SFU basketball games. I love dancing with and cheering on our awesome team!” Co-captain Crane adds that the team has allowed her to continue practicing dance after leaving her studio in high school and has given her the opportunity to meet other dancers at SFU.
You may have seen the dancers perform in Fall 2014 at the 102nd Grey Cup Kickoff Party at Jack Poole Plaza, or at the yearly Dance Marathon in support of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. The SFU Athletics Dance Team also regularly perform at the media timeouts for the Clan’s National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball teams. Allen describes how some dancers feel nervous before big performances, while some are very confident, but eventually everyone gets used to performing in front of large audiences. Before big performances and if the entire dance team is present, the girls will do a group huddle for good luck.
Practices begin with a warm-up consisting of cardio, ab exercises, push-ups and light stretching. Members do cross-floor routines, a series of turns, kicks and jumps, then transition to learning new choreography for their next performance or routine, led by trainer Hannah Davis. This choreography may include hints of jazz, street jazz, hip hop, contemporary or a fun combo of multiple styles. Sometimes, to challenge the team, guest teachers will be invited to practices. Placement auditions to be a part of the performance team are held in the first two weeks of September, however, those interested are welcome to join the open practices. Practices are held Thursday and Saturday nights in the Lorne Davies Complex East and West Gyms.
If you’ve been watching from the bleachers until now, and are interested in joining the team, have no fear, as they accept members of all experience-levels and genres of dance. “Some [members] have been dancing for ages and some have little to no dance training. When selecting members, dance experience is not as important as ability to pick up choreography and overall physical and athletic ability. In the past, we have accepted members based on their training in other activities such as gymnastics and martial arts. We also enjoy having people that have an upbeat and positive attitude that are there for the love of dance and to have fun,” says Allen.
You can follow and message the team on their Facebook page SFU Athletics Dance Team, as well as their Instagram (@sfuathleticsdanceteam). You can also contact them through their email firstname.lastname@example.org.