Villanova Dance and Cheer Teams Compete at Nationals


Olivia Pasquale / Villanovan Photography

The Villanova Dance Team has performed at many campus events, like Hoops Mania.

Elena Rouse, Co-Culture Editor

The Villanova Dance Team took the term “the happiest place on earth” to a new level as it competed on the Walt Disney World stage. 

This past weekend, the team, along with the Villanova cheer team and mascot Will D. Cat, competed in the Universal Dance Association Nationals in Orlando, Florida, showing off its chops at a high level. 

Open to all colleges, universities and junior colleges in the country, the 35-year-old annual event is “the most prestigious collegiate national championship in the country,” according to the official UDA Website. 

From Jan. 14 to 16, top dance teams from all across the country took part in intense competition, mixed in with team bonding at the parks and watching other colleges perform. The event is split by divisions, with Villanova’s dance team competing at the Division One level. 

The team performed once on Saturday, ranking in 9th place out of 12, for the Jazz Division I resulting in the team moving on to finals. The team went on to rank 9th in the final round, making them 9th in the nation. 

Making it to the final round and ranking as one of the top in the nation were both firsts for Villanova Dance Team history.

The Villanova Dance Team is one of the most well-known groups on the University’s campus. The group performs at all home football games, home basketball games, community events and the Big East and NCAA National Basketball Championships. These events, along with the annual Nationals competition in Florida, are a testament to the group’s dedication and committed practice schedule. 

The team is not only full of talented dancers but also devoted students. According to the team’s website, members average an average GPA of 3.68, with majors spanning across business, the sciences and arts. 

With this dedication and drive in tow, the dance team prepared for Nationals starting back in September. 

Emma Dowd, junior captain of the team, spoke about the training.

“We got a guest choreographer to travel from California to choreograph for us,” Dowd said. “After that, we practiced every weekend, and came back Jan. 6 to practice every day until we left for Florida.” 

The practices did not stop there, as the team, upon reaching its destination, practiced every day in preparation. 

However, Dowd mentioned that there was still down time to explore.

“We also have free time to go to the parks and bond as a team,” Dowd said. “It’s a really great way to get closer while still staying focused and representing Villanova, all with other teams across the nation.”

Olivia Gang, junior member and the recruitment coordinator for the team, spoke more about representing the school with her teammates. 

“Our team has really bonded throughout this process and we are really proud of all the hard work we have put in,” Gang said. “We are so excited to represent our team and University with a dance we are so proud of.” 

That pride goes beyond just the team’s direct members, expanding across to the cheer team as well, with members posting pictures and videos of each other on social media platforms. The overall result was an environment of support and excitement for the large competition.

The excitement might also be a testament to the readiness to perform after a year lapse due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We didn’t compete last year because of the pandemic,” Dowd said. “Only four veterans have ever stepped foot on the nationals floor. We compete with 14 girls, so 10 of us have never even competed at UDA before.” 

A combination of team and school spirit, partnered with sunny skies, a year in waiting and the magic of Disney, the Villanova Dance and Cheer Teams shone bright at the Universal Dance Association Nationals, becoming nationally ranked. If their smiles and embraces after hearing the news tell us anything other than the team’s exhilaration and devotion to each other, it is that “the happiest place on Earth” holds up to its title.