U. New Haven Dance Team takes home win at Dance Team Union competition


The U. New Haven Dance Team and coach at the NDA, New Jersey, Jan. 15, 2023.

On Jan. 15, the U. New Haven Dance Team traveled to New Jersey to compete at their first collegiate level competition for Dance Team Union. The team put their typical half-time performances on hold to learn new choreography and practice for many hours leading up to the competition, which paid off when they placed first in college pom and jazz.

Emma Planzo, a junior dental hygiene major, shared that the team returned to school a week early before the spring semester to practice. On the first day of rehearsals, the team had access to the gym at North Campus where they practiced for eight hours in one day. Planzo said that “Thankfully, the next day we were able to use our coach’s daughter’s dance studio, where we practiced for another four hours.” She shared that the night before the team left for New Jersey, they held another rehearsal as well. “Before the competition was intense. Emotions were high, everybody was anxious but excited.”

Olivia Sisk, a senior criminal justice major and one of the captains of the dance team shared that the team was thrilled to be participating in their first competition. Sisk discussed some of the teamwork skills they applied prior to the competition, saying that “We were all supportive of one another and helping each other when we needed it.”

Sisk also explained that this team opened a new chapter for the university dance team and is creating new traditions.

Kelly Mirando, a junior dental hygiene major and co-captain of the team, emphasized that the team felt both nervous and excited to compete. She said, “Those excited nerves helped our performances and paid off in the end.” Throughout their journey, the team relied on one another for support, which they found really brought them together.

Mirando explained that prior to the competition, she would listen to the routine music and run through the numbers in her head. “Listening to music with headphones and going through the routines helped me leading up to the competition.”

Alyssa Mazza, a senior nutrition major, described that the atmosphere of the competition boosted the team’s energy and excitement to dance. Mazza said,“We were so excited to have the chance to dance at a college competition, we really came together as a team.” Sisk explains that this team opened a new chapter for the university dance team and is creating new traditions.

The dance team is known for their performances during football and basketball games. Coach Ashley McClain shared that the team held fundraisers to make this competition possible. She said that the team is usually standing on the sidelines cheering others on. “It was nice to be able to put work in that was for us, and us alone,” McClain said.

Through this competition, the team was able to put their talents on display off the football field. “We have certain roles at a sports game, we’re cheering on the sidelines or supporting the team,” she said. “The team was able to showcase not only their dancing but also that they are athletes as well. They had to put in a ton of work on top of everything they must do for game days.”