While others were enjoying Space Mountain and posing with Minnie and Mickey, the Seaholm varsity Maple Motion team was fighting for their spot at the Universal Dance Association National Dance Team Championship in Disney World.
The girls hopped on the flight to Orlando, Florida Thursday, January 31 and the competition began Saturday, February 2.
The team danced in the Small Varsity Pom and the Small Varsity Hip-Hop categories.
There were 77 total teams from all around the country in the pom category and 20 in their bracket. Maple Motion placed 15 in their group and did not qualify for semifinals.
The Maple dancers were the first group to perform in this category with a 7:15 am report time, which meant setting the alarm clock for 4:30 am.
Nine teams in Maple Motion’s bracket advanced to the championship round including the final winner, Rosary High School from Fullerton, CA.
“I was really happy with our performances and they were really happy with them too,” head coach Erin Wheeler said. “I think that what got everybody down the most is that our first dance was at 8 am which means we had to report at 7:15 which means everybody was up at 4:30 in the morning, so I think that might have made it a little bit harder to get into the swing of things.”
In hip-hop, there were 67 teams total. Seaholm placed 16 out of the 22 teams in their bracket, and did not advance to the semifinals.
Peters Township High School from McMurray, PA took home the gold in this event.
“We were pleased with how we danced, but the competition at nationals was challenging and it was disappointing when we didn’t make it to the next round,” senior captain C.J. Young said.
This was the first year that the team competed in UDA’s nationals.
“From what I know, most of these teams have been coming to (the competition) for 10, 15, even 20 years, so I think we were just really proud to have the best performances we’ve had,” Wheeler said.
In past years, the team has always competed at the National Dance Alliance Championship in Orlando, and even left with a first place finish in 2009. But this year, new coach Erin Wheeler wants to take the team in a different direction with the UDA nationals.
“What I’ve seen is that the teams that are more technically sound, stronger, and do better in competition, for some reason they all go to UDA and I think everybody wants to be a part of that because it is the best,” Wheeler said. “For NDA, it’s nice because you get a little more recognition, but from my perspective, I’d rather know where I stand amongst the best than not.”
The change from NDA to UDA also brings with it a change in style for the team.
The team is looking to move into a more ballet based, technical studio trained style rather than the pom focused style from past years.
“It’s definitely moving us in a stronger direction with a more technical base,” senior captain Mallory Mareski said.
The Maple Motion qualified for this national championship at the UDA dance camp hosted by Western Michigan in July. The team had to perform three routines and receive what is known as a “superior trophy” in order to make it to the competition in Orlando. Nationals was the fifth and final competition for this year.
Their strongest showing was at the Chippewa Valley Invitational where they came fourth in pom and first in hip-hop.
“I’m so proud of how we have done this season,” Mareski said. “We have really improved technically and have become a lot closer. We have progressively gotten better at each competition and I have loved every bit of being a part of Maple Motion these four years.”