Trying out for a University Team

Dancing before 40,000 - 50,000 (girls with Airforce boys)

‘There is a difference between University Level Dancing, 4 year college dancing, and 2 year college.

If you are planning on trying out for a dance or cheer team at a University, note that tryouts are generally held in April for University level dancers. Tryouts consist of across the floor technique, including leaps, turns, kicks, the works. Most require you to learn a short routine as well.   Two and four year colleges generally do the same.

The dance teams at a university also work with the cheer teams – thus you have the spirit team. You also work with the band, and do flags; the pep band.  Pep band is  a combination of dance, cheer and marching band. They get along with each other wonderfully! This is not a dance class, this is an actual team that you can receive college credit for. It’s a sport.

These teams are not all about ballet, or drill team, or modern dance for that matter.  While many members have had those genre’s of dance in their life time – it’s more! Ballerinas have wonderful technique, but, there are those who don’t  get the jazz,  hip hop, and pep, that they need to understand on a college level dance team.  A large amount of modern dancers need speed “pep”. If you’ve only danced on a  drill team  in high school, your chances get slimmer as you come up against dancers who have trained all their lifes.

Competitive dancers “studio trained” who have grown up in the dance world fair better than most. A lot of the  top soloists go this route. Almost all of the dancers on these teams have life long dance credentials. Meaning, they didn’t start their dancing careers in high school. They have done it their whole lives.  To many of them, competition is part of everyday life.  That is the world I understand.

It is worth it to talk to dancers who have made it on a professional  university level team, especially if you are planning to tryout. I am talking university level/pro.  Not many 2 or 4 year colleges compete at the University level, not in Utah anyways.

University or College level dancing is the best experience you will ever have. It can also be your worst experience. You may think you are top diva in the dance sport in your home town. But now you are confronted with top diva’s from all over the state, and nation, and some of those diva’s are GOOD!

Most university level dancers will tell you that the directors require perfection. You don’t talk in line. You don’t breath in line. You work!

These are real teams. A number of the dancers are also instructors at studios, drill advisors,  state drill judges,  and/or members of pro NBA/NFL cheer teams .

You will and should work as hard on a University team as you would on a  professional NBA or NFL dance team.  YOU will work.


You have to have a standing back tuck to make the squad at the University level. That and a whole lot more.

The level and the knowledge that dancers and cheerleaders gain at the university level is tremendous.  You are now  learning from the pros. These dancers have earned respect.  Many  of them are “invited” to become judges at competitions, or become advisors.  It’s all in the training.  Age is not a factor –  technique is.

It’s an honor to have a professional call you out and invite you to attend trainings. Not your mom, not your coach, but a pro. Have you been invited? Respect those people who have. Because you know what – the knowledge in their heads will be the knowledge that will in later years be running the more successful studios.

To be an alumni at the university level, you need to be on the team for an entire year. If you make a year “you earned it”. But first you have to make it through tryouts.

There are numerous dancers who would do anything for their team. This is an area you have to be cautious of. Your studies can slip away on you really quickly. You have to be self disciplined in this setting. Talk to those girls who have been there.

If you are a drill team member and you aren’t on a studio floor “boo”. You need to be doing solo’s at competitions. YOU NEED those score sheets from those judges. Those judges are going to tell you the truth, because your coachs and directors may not.

Did I mention you would get your feelings hurt at dance competitions? You will. But, if you really think you are good enough – you will take those scores sheets with the LOWEST score, and you will learn from those. Pay someone to train you!

I would rather have you walk onto that campus and try out for your dream team with your eyes wide open, than give you false hopes.  You have to be on your game.

Dancing on a university dance team is a blast!  Do it if you can.  But, if  you aren’t self motivated, it might not be the place for you.  Within the first two weeks on the team, everyone on campus will know your name, your business, your major, and your friends.  It is high PR! Sometimes that can be a real distraction to your studies.  You have to weigh your options.  What is really best for you.

I choose to tryout and I felt honored to make the team.  I have the highest respect for my team mates.  I know how hard we worked.  I also respected my coach Lori Rupp.  She taught me well, and I will use those skills I learned from her in my future dance instruction, with my own students.

Good luck to you all that are heading to tryouts.  Some of you will drive, some fly in from states far away, and some will walk across the block.

However you get there, know that you have to be on your game!  Your competition is hoping you aren’t.


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