The Gustavus Dance Team uses their dance expertise to pump up the Gustie fans and show their Gustie pride. The performance based team can be found at football and basketball games, and the competition team dances at competitions. The women are positive and strive for improvement, despite long practices and exhaustive physicality. Led by Head Coach Jess Erickson ‘13, the women work hard to make dance look effortless.
As of last year, dance team is a club sport at Gustavus. Tryouts are held every fall for both incoming and current Gustavus students.
The club consists of both a performance team and a competition team. The performance team competes at basketball and football games with jazz style routines. The dancers pick their routines with only three days to learn, clean, and perfect before a performance. The competition team learns a lyrical style routine and has months to clean, perfect, and practice their routine. They compete at two competitions, as well as home basketball games and other invitationals at other local colleges and high schools. This routine has more of a technical aspect and requires high level of technique. Members of the competition team are also members of the performance team.
“Being a part of the dance team is equal parts dance technique as well as performance ability. We look for dancers that can withhold dance technique to perform high energy and technical dances. We also look for dancers that dance with passion and show their enthusiasm for dance through their facial expressions,” Erickson said.
The performance team this year was a lot larger than previous years, with a large group of incoming freshmen. Another difference was the division of having both performance team captains and competition team captains. The performance team captains were seniors Amani Yassin and Allie Renneke.
“Dance team has been something that has really shaped my experience at Gustavus, and I would recommend for any current or incoming students who love dance to audition for next year’s team,”
“Amani and I were really able to devote more time to choreographing different dances and coming up with fun things for the team to do because of the new division between the captains,” Renneke said.
The competition team had a great season, the captains were seniors Lindsay Ortlip and Sami Banks, who said it was a very strong and unified team.
“We had a really solid group of freshman girls come in, and I would say the competition team is the strongest it’s been. The cohesiveness of the team, I think, is what made us really step up our level,” Ortlip said.
The team worked to take first place at St. Thomas and second at Nationals. At St. Thomas, the team competed against other MIAC schools, as well as other Division II schools. Out of eight teams, Gustavus took first place. At Nationals, Gustavus competed against Division II and Division III schools from all over the country.
“As seniors, across our four years of being on the competition team, we have kept changing and growing stronger, and we couldn’t be prouder of this year’s team and doing so well in competition,” Banks said.
Next year is going to be a growing year for the Gustavus Dance Team. There are 11 graduating seniors this season, and two of the coaches, Erickson and assistant coach Kayla Werner, are leaving. One of the assistant coaches this year and Gustavus alum, Krista Ripperton, will be taking over as head coach next year.
“Dance team has been something that has really shaped my experience at Gustavus, and I would really recommend for any current or incoming students who love dance to audition for next year’s team,” Yassin said.
Keep a look out on the Gustavus Dance Team Facebook page as well as their website for updates. There are team requirements listed on the website for those interested in training over the summer.
“I would just say if you love dance and you have a passion for it, show us that the moment you walk into the room for tryouts. Not only does this team want amazing dancers but we want amazing people. Come ready to show us what you got and don’t hold back,” Erickson said.