Asking for help

When you are dancing in school, the idea of becoming an “alumni” might not be the first thing that comes to your mind. But after you have been out of school and away from dance for a while, it takes on a whole different meaning.

Maybe you have kids of your own now – maybe even grand kids! The alumni of any school, studio, or national organization is what brought you to where you were in the first place – the dance floor. It is there that your memory, your past, and in some cases your future were formed.

Most alumni’s have been known to do a host of charitable events, sponsor dancers, and even kick in money for rooms and travel for active members. You might find yourself looking at your past team and all those coming up behind you. -How are they doing? -Is there a need? -Could you help? Sometimes helping means getting on the phone, making calls, or handing out flyers. For others it is cash donation. As an alumni you are probably more than happy to help out.

Doesn’t matter how you choose to help, be that organiziing a fundraiser, sponsoring a trip , or just paying for car wash tickets. Help those dancers who may be looking at cuts during their dance season regain hope.

Most of us have danced just about everywhere. We’ve danced in hallways, commons, cafeterias, outside, on the side of a mountain, and even on an old city park stage filled with splinter wood. We’ve danced in the streets, carrying flags, and wearing batman costumes. We can always find a floor. What we can’t always find is the funding for costumes, travel, and fees. That is where we need our alumni.

My freshman year we bought used costumes from dancers who were graduating high school. We didn’t have bags that year unless someone gave us one. We were paying off prior team debts, with current funding. So this isn’t a new thing. Parents from my studio days helped make costumes and props.

A list of alumni should be available at your school district or local college, university, or studio. You should always be including them in your plans. Alumni like to be recognized too! Sponsor your own alumni dance. Most alumni would be grateful to get back on the floor and perform – just for kicks and giggles.. You could get your school to sponsor a basketball game and give the money to your team to help with dance costs.

The community sitting on the stands are packed with alumni. Most alumni don’t mind paying for an alumni shirt to dance in, and to pay for a special dinner. $50 a pop – you keep a cut. That is what alumni can do for you!

Sometimes the need is money. My university dance team alumni, the Crimsonline, sponsors the Utah State Drill every year. It is their largest fundraiser. The Crimsonline has been successful enough to even be able to award small scholarships to the members of their team. That was a nice perk! The Crimsonline also dances at at drill state; they also invite BYU’s cougarettes, UVU wolverines; SUU has also attended in the past, as well as other college and university teams throughout the state. The idea is that all the dancers throughout the state get the chance to see ALL the alumni state wide. You set your rivalries aside for this. Here – all teams are equal. We are nothing without each other.

You need your alumni. Many scholarships are awarded from various alumni associations. At the high school level, you still can solicit your alumni to help you in time of need. Alumni can work with your school in helping with travel, motel, and chaperone costs. You may have to get volunteers to help with your choreography, rather than purchase it.

As future alumni yourself, you may have to begin working a little harder than you had in the past. Bump it up a notch. You may have to do a number of extra fundraisers to help those who struggle financially – get costumes. Take a step back even future into your past and see if you remember doing a lasagna dinner to get your fees paid? A spook alley? How about selling cookie dough?

Programs come and go. Alumni’s remain. It is the one thing they cannot take from you. It is the one position that you can help with the most. Financially, teams need all the help they can get. If your program is looking at serious cuts – don’t wait until they take it away. You need to be on you’re “A” game – the “Alumni game” now. You need to be actively going after the help and support of those that have gone before you. Embrace them, or you might not be dancing at all. Call on all your resources. The alumni may be what is standing between you and your ability to go to drill state, that special completion, or next years camp.

I just finished up my first reunion with my alumni. It was a wonderful experience. All members paid in advance to carry the fees for costumes and dinner. It was well organized and it was great to be back out on the field in front of 40,000 university fans.

It’s your turn! Keep the dream alive for someone who is coming up behind you. Donate where you can, get involved. Call your high school or local college – let them know you want to help. If a current member gives you a call – tell them you will help.

University Dance

What’s it really like to dance with a professional university team? Exciting! It’s an adventure that is worth taking. I’m glad I did. The friendships I made will last a life time. We were a REAL team. We practically lived together 24/7! Two weeks into the new school year, everyone on campus knew who you were. It’s just the way it was.

I consider myself fortunate to have been a member of the University of Utah Crimsonline Dance Team. My coach was Lori Rupp. Lori was not only the coach of the Crimsonline, but the events coordinator for Utah State Drill. The State Drill Competition was and is still one of our major fundraises that the Crimsonline does each year. Learning how everything came together for an event of this scale was a fascinating experience for me. We started at the crack of dawn and didn’t finish each night until everything was accomplished.

Coming from a little poe-dunk town in the southern end of the state, Moab Utah – I still managed to become a competitive dancer, competing every year since the age of 5.  I  studio trained from age 5 all throughout my high school years, then into college.

It is really important to do studio dance while you are in high school. If you don’t – you may run into problems trying out for a college or university teams. You will work hard!

I’ve seen a lot of dancers who think they can get away with talking and goofing off during a practice – not at this level. You are expected to perform at 100% at every practice – and you WILL perform at 100%. I was in good shape already, having ran track back home. I was also solo training in dance  before coming to Salt Lake City to try out.

Drill can make you lazy. It isn’t hard enough, if at all. You really need studio
training to make it on to a decent college or university  team.   Do it!

The first day of camp, I  thought I had died and ended up in dance boot camp hell. Lori worked us so hard – and LONG…  BUT —- We loved her!  She trained her team “the right way”.  She understood that technique and  synchronization aren’t something you learn in a text book, but rather through years and years of practice.

She taught all of us that we were a team.  We weren’t there just for a social thing – we were a sisterhood. Things mattered.

The Crimsonline did many different types and styles of dance. We danced jazz, lyrical, hip hop, novelty – all the standard stuff. We also held pom pom’s and cheered with the cheer team.

We were part of the spirit squad. The cheer team and the dance team were both Lori’s teams. Everyone was part of that spirit squad. That is how it should be. There is Spirit in Unity. You have to bring it all together to get it to work.

A major part of the Crimsonline is also working with the Pep Band. The U of U Pep Band is one of the best in the nation. They attended the ceremony in Washington DC at the invitation of the 44th President.  Doesn’t matter if you are democrat or republican, for your school to receive an invitation of this magnitude is an honor.

As part of the your Pep Band duties,  you learn many flag and prop routines that accent the marching band theme. You will spend many hours getting your lines straight, kicks on time, flags all turning the same way.  Be prepared to  show up about two week before classes even begin for the camps.  It’s long- so bring lots of water!!!

The members of the pep band are hilarious. They make the pain in all your limbs not hurt so bad with their great humor.  :-0)

As a member of a University Dance team you will probably travel to out of state games with the team. I’ve been to San Diego, Las Vegas, etc. Most recently the dance team traveled with the Utes Football team to Louisiana for the BCS games. The Utes won. (The Utes are now part of the PAC-10)  Go Utes~

There are a host of fundraisers that you will do on a University dance team, visiting hospitals, or doing an alumni fundraiser, etc. You will  be involved in  all the special events and games. Performing is a weekly event! Practice is a daily event. Practices are hard, you will work out and you will be solid.

The girls on the team respected Lori. She was “a real professional coach”. We performed for her. That is the way it should be. You represent your school, you should look and perform as professional as you can.

I did enroll in modern dance classes while I was at the U.  But mostly, I kept up my studio dancing and honed in on my choreography skills.

To be an alumni you have to finish the year out. You can’t drop mid-way or near the end, or you are taken off the roles. I made the team each time I tried out.  I’m an alumni of the University of Utah Crimsonline Dance Team. That is an honor.

I was exicted when Lori called me and asked me to judge at the state level. It is nice to be recognized for ones ability. I am currently a member of the Utah Dance Judge Association (UDJA), and I am looking forward to renewing that again this year – for my third year.  As well I’m looking into  joining a couple other professional dance/judging associations.  There is a lot to learn out there beyond poe-dunk.  The ladies and gentlemen at the state level that I have met – are great mentors.

It is exciting to dance on a team, and be able to tell about it, and all the wonderful experiences that go along with it.

Cricket