By Ryan Lee, NAU Media Relations
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The Northern Arizona University dance team will travel to Walt Disney World Resort this weekend for the 2013 College Cheer Leading and Dance Team National Championships on Jan. 18-20. The Lumberjacks will compete in both the jazz and hip-hop competitions sponsored by the United Dance Association. Both competitions will take place on Saturday and will be available on television through ESPNU and the internet by visiting varsity.com.
The dance team will have an open rehearsal on Friday at 11:00 a.m. and 11:40 a.m. Arizona time before being judged on stage during Saturday's event.
"We have pushed harder this year than any other year and we have our minds set on bringing home a trophy as a top five school," said sophomore dancer Jessica Hollingsworth. "Everything we have done these past few months has been for this weekend."
Each dance category will provide a camp where the team will have two minutes to demonstrate to the judges their ability to perform as a team. In this first round of competition, the judges will then decide which teams advance to the semifinals.
"This is where we show the judges what we have worked on all semester," said Hollingsworth. "It is important that we are completely in sync as a team."
The dance team worked tirelessly last semester as they used their commitments to the NAU football and basketball games as a way to condition themselves while learning how to perform with one another. Saturday will be their chance to demonstrate that preparation. This event is prestigious, as hundreds of qualified schools will come together from all across the country. This weekend's competition will include all levels of collegiate competition.
On Saturday, half of the teams from Friday's competition will compete in the finals where the top five schools will then be awarded. In the jazz category, 18 schools are expected to compete and nine will advance to the finals. From those nine, the top five schools will return home with a trophy. The hip-hop category is similar, with 26 schools competing and roughly 12 schools advancing to the final round.
"This year we are at a whole different level than we have ever been and I'm confident in this team's ability to compete on the national stage and to achieve our goal of a top-five finish," said Hollingsworth. "It is always exciting to compete at nationals and to come home knowing that we represented NAU."
The Lumberjacks hope to improve from their past performances at the UDA National Championships. In 2012, the dance team advanced the finals where they finished 12th nationally. NAU also finished 12th in 2011, which remains the highest finish in program history. The dance team finished 14th in 2010. This year the NAU dance team has their eyes set on qualifying for the finals in the hip-hop competition.
The dance team will compete at in the hip-hop competition at 7:54 a.m. Arizona time with the jazz competition at 2:45 p.m. (EST). Coverage will be available on ESPNU or on the web at varsity.com.