Dance team recognized on national level at Disney World

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The crowd may not have known how to pronounce Eau Claire, but the university’s dance team made its presence known with a fourth-place finish on Jan. 13 at the 2001 College Dance Team National Championship at Disney World in Orlando, Fla.

The team, referred to by most of the crowd as just “Wisconsin,” will be recognized further this weekend when the cable sports channel ESPN broadcasts its coverage of the event, said junior Julia Godfrey, a second-year dance team captain. It will include the Eau Claire dance team’s routine and, most likely, its trophy acceptance.

“It’s something you see on TV and never think it’ll actually be you,” Godfrey said of the upcoming television appearance.

The 14-member squad competed against 19 other teams in the championship’s open division, which consisted of Div. III, technical and community colleges from all around the country.

The dance team usually performs at the university’s basketball halftime shows. But in November, Godfrey said the team sent a video tape of one of its routines to the competition’s organizers. The next month it received an invite with a ranking of 17th out of 19 teams.

Once in Florida for the competition, the squad improved its ranking by qualifying for second place for the event’s finals.

The next day the team took advantage of its finals appearance and took fourth place on the Disney World Indiana Jones stage.

“For all of us, it was a dream come true,” Godfrey said.

Although the event awarded the squad with a fourth-place trophy and free passes to Disney World for its routine themed “Rain,” Godfrey said the biggest prize she and the members received was recognition.

“This is probably the highlight of the existence of the dance team,” she said.

Godfrey said the squad’s routine started with baggy ponchos and hoods that eventually came off to reveal the group’s purple, iridescent costumes with sequins and bright, fluorescent-colored wigs.

The women danced to various rain-related songs such as AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” and Madonna’s “Rain.” They ended the routine by throwing blue streamers into the air to simulate rain.

All of the national exposure and respect toward the team comes with the fact that Eau Claire was the only squad at the event without a coach or professional choreographer, Godfrey said.

She said she and the other team captains, senior Kelly Krumrie and junior Julie Nachazel, do the team’s choreography, finances, facility and hotel reservations, practices, annual events planning and recruitment.

“It’s been the biggest learning experience ever,” said Godfrey of the responsibility. “It’s taught me to really lead a team and what it really takes to be a successful, championship team.”

For a team as a whole, Godfrey said it’s been the best she’s ever worked with.

“Everyone’s skills have just gone through the roof,” she said. “They’re just a great group of girls; we’re all really good friends.

For Krumrie, the only senior on the team and a dancer for 18 years, she said leaving the squad will be tough, but at least they went out on a great note.

“It was the best way to end my dancing here,” Krumrie said. “It was more than I could ask for at all.”