By Nalee Praseutsack
Meet the newest club on campus: The Lawrence University Dance Team. The brain-child of Natalie Ortega-Wells, Rebecca Tapia and Jori Warwick, a trio of passionate dancers, The LU Dance Team aims to share dance not only with fellow Lawrentians, but also with people off campus.
The idea for the dance team arose when Ortega-Wells, a sophomore, and Tapia, a freshman, connected over their shared interest in starting a dance team via the Class of 2018 Facebook page. Sophomore Jori Warwick, a competitive dancer since second grade, was included in the group. Their discussions culminated in the creation of the Lawrence University Dance Team. Through the dance team, they hope to heighten the spirit of competition by performing at school sporting events and competing as a dance team.
Warwick, the Spirit Captain, hopes that the Dance Team can become integrated into the athletic scene through performances during halftimes at sporting events. She is currently in contact with the head coach of the Lawrence University men’s basketball team, Joel DePagter, regarding the possibility of the Dance Team performing for home games. Warwick cites her experience in pom during high school as a motive and inspiration behind her work in organizing performances at athletic events. She hopes that the Dance Team, similar to her high school pom team, will be able to incite an “atmosphere of school spirit.”
The Dance Team also plans to compete against other teams, setting it apart from other groups on campus. The core trio of the Dance Team all have experience in competitive dance and felt a void when they found that Lawrence lacked a competitive dance team. Now, through the LU Dance Team, they aim to “get the Lawrence name out into competitive dancing,” as said by Ortega-Wells, the team’s Captain.
Furthering off campus engagement beyond competition, the LU Dance Team hopes to get involved in the Appleton area. By setting up after-school programs at local schools, the team hopes to bring their love of dance to a younger generation. Tapia, the Junior Captain, elaborated that she wants to “be someone that others look up to” in the same way other dancers acted as role models to her when she was dancing in New York City, her hometown. Dancing served as an inspiration for Tapia and taught her focus and determination that she could apply “not only to learning a new step [but] also to anything in life.” She aims to impart such skills onto other younger people.
While the LU Dance Team wants to do a lot to distinguish itself from other groups on campus, the girls don’t want to rival them, rather they seek to collaborate. The trio plans to be involved in lessons and performances put on by other dance groups. Tapia says that they want to “merge with the other dance groups on campus.” In fact, Warwick sits on the board of Melee and the Dance Team also hopes to collaborate on a performance with Massive Movement.
This is, of course, the LU Dance Team’s first year, so plans are still being arranged. However, the girls are optimistic that the team will grow and further integrate into campus life as time goes on. Interest seems to be strong given 30 plus people signed up for the email list at the Activities Fair.
If you are interested in joining the LU Dance Team or getting more information about it, there will be an informational meeting on Saturday, Sept. 27 in room 401 in the library at 3 p.m. Dancers of all levels are encouraged to attend.