Hey guys! This is my Real Talk series where I interview college students about real situations they face every day. Today we're talking with Carolyn and her experience on a college dance team.
Tell us a little about yourselfHi! My name is Carolyn and I am a junior at UT Arlington majoring in Social Work and I’m from central Texas. I have a younger sister who attends Texas State University and my mom is an elementary school teacher. I have a boyfriend who plays basketball at UT Tyler and this is his third year also. I enjoy watching Netflix, hanging out with my friends, shopping and coffee! My favorite color is purple and I love anything positive. I read my devotional book often and share various scriptures on social media just to brighten and encourage others. I believe in God and love watching my relationship with Him grow every day. I am very close with my family and friends and so very thankful for them and everything they do for me!
What is your dance background?I have been dancing since I was eight, I started in my church with praise dancing. As I entered middle school I took some dance classes at a local studio to prepare me for drill team tryouts at my high school. I was on the dance and drill team all four years of my high school career. I was a dance officer since my sophomore year and later serving as captain my senior year.
What made you want to join the school dance team?I originally didn’t plan to dance at the college level when I graduated. However, my director encouraged me to try out because she personally regretted not having college level experience as a dancer. I looked up the dance team at UT Arlington and noticed it wasn’t a 'drill team' but a dance team. I became interested in trying something different than the high school drill team style of dance. I also loved to dance and I couldn’t just let my passion for performing and building new relationships go that easy!
What was the tryout process like? What was the process for becoming Captain of the team?I actually didn’t have a traditional tryout process for my first year. Since I was still on my high school team, the tryouts at UT Arlington landed on my Spring Show date. I couldn't attend tryouts in person, so I prepared a video tryout. The video tryout consisted of 30-45 seconds of any routine in the styles of hip hop, pom, and jazz. I used most of my officer dances from high school. I submitted my video and weeks later I found out I made the team!
This season I've been award the position of Captain along with another teammate, Ciera. We were both picked for this position instead of trying out. I’m thankful for the position and hope to help grow this program to reach the potential I know we can be. I am also grateful for my coach and teammates, they constantly push me as a leader and a dancer. They are also a positive impact on not just my dance career but my life. They are my family and I love each and every one of them.
What sort of events do you dance at?The dance team performs at all sporting events, including basketball, volleyball and some baseball games. We also participate in appearances where we can perform a short routine or take pictures with our Maverick community.
How often do you practice and perform? What sort of time commitment does it take?We practice three days out of the week at various times and have morning workouts at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesdays. Along with practices, we have numerous performances and appearances throughout the week and weekend. There is a lot of time commitment to the team and all of the appearances but it often comes in spurts. One week you maybe have a game and two appearances and other weeks we may just have practice. So the commitment varies depending on the season.
How do you balance school work and being on the dance team?I am thankfully a very organized person. I like to stay ahead of the game when it comes to my school work. I own 2 planners and they are all color coded according to my classes, work and dance events. My planner really helps me get through my weeks and just using my time wisely. I always try to plan time to study and read when I have a couple hours to myself, right before practice, or during my breaks. Staying organized has really helped me balance all my school work with my dance schedule. It’s not the easiest thing in the world and sometimes I had to spend late nights in the library preparing for an exam or writing a paper right after a two-hour practice, but that’s what I signed up for. I love to dance, but I won’t let my passion distract me from my school work. These classes aren’t free so I want to do well!
What's one of the most rewarding parts about being on the team?I think the most rewarding part of being on the dance team is being able to form a strong and trusting bond with my teammates. I have learned so much these past two years on the team and I can’t wait to see what happens this year. We are under great leadership and a supportive university. I love seeing my teammates every practice and being able to just see how their day is going or if they want to hang out tonight. Being on the team has introduced me to a great group of people who I have made lifelong friendships with!
What advice do you have for people thinking about joining their school's dance team?For anyone wanting to join a college level dance team or even your high schools team I say go for it! I’m a firm believer in trial and error. I have been to school with many girls and guys who danced in high school and tried out for a college team and couldn’t handle it. It was either too time consuming or they just didn’t adjust to the style of the team. You’ll never know what you like until you try it. The dance team at UT Arlington has a style of dance I’ve never experienced before until I got here and I can truly say I fell in love with it! I also love the relationships I’ve made and people I’ve met through the dance program. Even if you aren’t interested in dance I strongly encourage getting involved on your campus.
Carolyn is a social work junior and a UT Arlington Maverick Dancer. Connect with her on a platform below.