This year’s tryouts for the UNK dance team will be held on Friday, April 30 in the Health and Sports Center. Dancers are required to perform elements such as double pirouettes, lead combination and others.
The pressure is on. Trying out for the dance team at UNK can be very nerve-wracking for a senior who is about to graduate high school and start a new chapter of her life. Allison Palmer a freshman pre-med biology major from Council Bluffs, Iowa, said she was nervous and excited about the competition to be a Sapphire.
“I was very nervous when I tried out for the dance team during my senior year of high school. I wasn’t yet in college, and so it was very different to try out with new girls in a new place. I was so excited to try out though, because I really wanted to be a part of the team. When I made the team I was so excited, because that meant all my nights practicing paid off.”
Dedication, determination and technique are crucial for those who want to be part of the UNK Sapphires’ dance team.
At this year’s tryouts, on Friday, April 30 at 3 p.m. in the Health and Sports Center Arena, women will be required to learn a routine in an hour and then perform before the judges. Dancers are also required to perform a list of technical elements along with a self-choreographed 45-second routine. Technical elements include double pirouettes, triple pirouettes, fouettes, toe touch, leap combination and splits.
Tryouts come with a variety of challenges, but Amanda Simmons, a junior dance team member and elementary education major from Aurora, says, “The hardest part of tryouts is learning a routine on the spot and turning around and having to perform it for the judges. It's nerve-wracking because you don’t have time to perfect it, you have to learn fast and perform it your best.”
Tryouts are not only for the new women who would like to be part of the Sapphires’ team; members who have already been on the team are still required to try out. This prevents dance team members from becoming lazy or complacent.
“We try out every year because we want to continually get better. If one team member wasn’t pulling their weight the previous year, they must prove themselves again at tryouts. I’m glad that we have to try out every year, because it makes people work hard to earn their spot on the team,” Simmons said.
Palmer said tryouts are important “to show that we are dedicated and to help the coach pick out new dancers for the next year with similar dancing abilities.”
There is no specific number of girls that are allowed to be on the dance team. The Sapphires go for quality not quantity. “My freshman year we had 15. My sophomore year we had 13, and this past year we had 10. They are really focused on quality rather than quantity,” Simmons said.
Members of the Sapphires’ dance team are required to perform at all men’s and women’s basketball games, the men’s football games, participate in Loper’s Women’s Walk, and in the lip sync contest during homecoming week.
“My favorite thing about being part of the dance is to get to show spirit for my school, and it’s a great way to be involved,” Palmer said.
Simmons believes that it takes a lot of hard work to be a member of the dance team, but it all pays off in the end.
“My favorite thing about dance team is performing. Although early morning 6 a.m. practices aren’t a lot of fun, throughout the year they pay off when we get to perform in front of all the UNK fans,” Simmons said.