As Concordia’s dance team, the Zea Mays, flew home from Orlando, Fla., after placing eighth in the semifinals at the Universal Dance Association National Championship, team captains Amanda Bertrand and Vanessa Yamry only had feelings of pride.
“I’m proud of our team,” Bertrand, a senior, said. “We’ve come really far-—especially after the year we’ve had.”
The Zea Mays performed in the Jostens Stadium at the ESPN Center in Orlando. They go every year to compete against other Division III dance teams from across the nation.
“This is the national competition [for dance],” Bertrand said.
The girls stayed at the Disney All-Star Music Resort, where they had some time to relax by the pool and visit the Disney theme parks. That is, when they weren’t waking up at 4 a.m. to prepare for their competition.
“We had to get up super early to be dressed and have our make-up and hair done, get stretched and practice our routine,” Yamry, a junior, said.
Yamry and Bertrand say the feeling of competing on such a big stage is incomparable to any other feeling.
“Being in a place where everyone loves to dance and the crowd loves to watch is awesome,” Yamry said.
Bertrand described the moment before taking the stage to perform as “amazing”.
“They put you in this dark tunnel and you’re huddled up with your team, so proud of each other, and then the music starts and you run out,” Bertrand said. “It’s amazing to share that stage with a group of girls who you’ve worked so hard with.”
Yamry and Bertrand said the team had to work extra hard this year to prepare for competition season.
“We’ve had a lot thrown at us this year with sickness, injury and girls quitting, but it also gave us the opportunity to grow stronger as a team,” Yamry said.
The girls said those types of incidents are frustrating because it forces the team to relearn different parts of a routine, but it was worth it in the end.
“The girls shouldn’t be anything less than proud of their performance,” Bertrand said. “We’ve come a long ways.”
“Our team is all about doing what we love,” Yamry said.
The Universal Dance Association website, uda.varsity.com, has a video posted of the girls’ performance in Orlando.