Every year around this time, college dance teams from all over the United States travel hundreds of miles to Daytona Beach, Florida, to compete in the annual National Dance Alliance (NDA) collegiate dance championship. The competition takes place April 11–15 this year and has hundreds of participating college dance teams anxious to take the stage.
The NDA competition for dancers is like the World Series for baseball players. Dance teams work extremely hard all year long and fundraise like crazy to make it to that national stage, and once they are there, the teams finally get to showcase the routine they have been perfecting day after day. It takes extra long practice hours—as well as some weekend rehearsals—to become a strong team, but the experience of the national dance championship is like no other. And I can say this only because I have been fortunate enough to experience it firsthand with my college dance team a few years back.
What is the competition all about?
College dance teams need to qualify for nationals by attending one of NDA’s summer dance camps or sending in a video showing technical strengths, while at the same time meeting certain style requirements.
Each dance team must have a routine that incorporates 30 seconds of hip hop, 30 seconds of jazz, and 30 seconds of pom style to qualify for the competition. However, dance teams can also choose to compete in the Open Division, which means they must have a routine in any style of their choice not exceeding two minutes, but no shorter than 90 seconds in length.
The athletic division for each school deciphers the division the dance team will use to compete. Therefore, the dance divisions are broken up into Division IA through Division III and Open Division IA through Open Division II.
Layers of makeup, never-ending sequins, and six bottles of hairspray later, the teams are ready to take the stage. As the teams perform, the judges use a scale of one to 10 to critique and score the performance based on the following categories: routine execution, technical skills, degree of difficulty, uniformity, choreography, performance impression, and collegiate image for each style of their routine (hip hop, jazz, pom). Once all teams in each division perform, the highest scoring teams (the top half of each division) continue on to finals, while the bottom half compete again against one another in The Challenge Cup. Once The Challenge Cup is complete, the top scoring team from each division joins the rest of the finalists for Finals the next day. The finalists spend all night long practicing their routines—sometimes even on the beach and in their hotel rooms!
The finals are pretty much a repeat of the day before, except the teams get to perform outside on the infamous finals stage by the beach. Hundreds of people attend the event to see who will be taking home the first place trophy.
Maybe this video will give you a better sense of what the NDA College Championship is all about:
2011 1st place winner of Division I competing at finals: Towson University