Author: Chris Ellis
On Sept. 8, Occidental hosted more than 100 student organizations at the annual Involvement Fair, where every campus group had the opportunity to make themselves known to the Occidental community. The Occidental Dance Team, however, attracted particular attention. Introduced by their new coach Dana Rosenthal, the dance team premiered their first performance of the new school year at the Fair.
“I loved the performance,” said Daniel Martinez (sophomore). “It brought a lot of excitement to my day.”
The 2011-2012 Occidental Dance Team hopes to carry that kind of enthusiasm generated at their first show over to the rest of the season as they enter the new year. The team has recruited five new members in addition to new coach Rosenthal to create the largest dance team at Occidental in recent history with a roster now boasting 14.
After maintaining most of last year’s team, the girls looked to the first-year class to expand. What they found were four first-years, Morgan Carnes, Anna Haflich, Eleni Duret and Maya Herzig, all of whom bring in new sets of skills to the squad.
“Our new dance team members bring a range of talents to the team, and everyone is extremely cohesive,” returning member Courtney Smurdon (senior) said about the new additions. “Even after the first week of practice, it felt like we had already been dancing together for a long time. Everyone brings their own strengths, and we really balance each other out.”
The team comes into the new year with the bar set high, given their solid performances last season. They made a stellar appearance at last year’s Nationals in Orlando, Florida, where they ranked 16th in the nation for Hip Hop and 18th for Jazz.
“We decided we are going to try some new competitions on the West Coast to decrease costs as well as foster a fan base that can come support us when we perform,” said Chelsea Duncan (senior) about this year’s competitions.
In November, the team will head to the Southern California Championship in San Diego before moving on to Universal City’s West Coast Dance Championships in March.
In addition to their statewide competitions, the dance team will be performing on campus at various campus-wide events including football games, basketball games and events like last week’s Involvement Fair. Performances like these are part of the team’s goal to not only gain more exposure but also make the dance team an integral part of the student community.
“We hope to get fans excited and active in sporting events and activities but also have a positive presence on campus,” Smurdon said. “We want to represent Occidental and share what we love to do, dance, with our peers.”
This year, the team will be led by a new coach, Dana Rosenthal. She brings to the team not only a passion for coaching and for dance, but also a wide range of experience from her work with Hip Hop International and Debbie Reynold’s Dance Studio. She hopes to become an integral part of the team’s success as well.
At the recent dance team carwash at Rantz Auto this past Sunday, Rosenthal scrubbed alongside the rest of the girls, showing that she does not view her role as simply an advisor. “Dana Rosenthal is not only an incredibly inspiring dancer but also a driven choreographer and coach,” Duncan said. “She pushes each of us to constantly try our best, making each of us the best dancer we can be.”
Duncan, unsurprisingly, was not the only one singing Rosenthal’s praises. “I am also very optimistic that with a coach, we can focus a lot more on performance, school spirit and competitions, which should be our priority rather than the nitty-gritty details . . . which have plagued us in the past,” Dayna Chikamoto (senior) said. “Really, at the end of the day, it comes down to the fact that we love dancing, Oxy and each other, and that’s what makes us the team that we are.”
With a lot of promising new additions and technique this season, dance team hopes to have another remarkable year. With a new selection of competitions closer to campus, the group can begin to cultivate the growing fan base around campus and cement the dance team into Occidental’s growing artistic repertoire.
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