Dancing to Nationals

One may think that with nationals three months away, the Keene State College Dance Team has time to kick back and relax.

But that assumption is wrong. With practice three days a week, choreographing multiple routines, performing at sporting events, competitions and fundraising, the dance team has whipped up one busy schedule.

Haley Erdbrink / Equinox Staff : Michelle Green (left) and Rebecca Fracasse (right) flip Shayna Bourque at the dance team’s practice. The team preps for nationals in Orlando, Florida with high hopes. The Keene State College dance team will also regularly perform at KSC sporting events’ half-time shows as well as a Halloween-theme performance at the 2013 Pumpkin Festival.

Haley Erdbrink / Equinox Staff : Michelle Green (left) and Rebecca Fracasse (right) flip Shayna Bourque at the dance team’s practice.

However, the most determined thing on all of their minds is getting to nationals and bringing home a trophy.

The team captain, Lisa Garamella said, “Half of our team is new and they all have different abilities. It is exciting to bring a new, dedicated group to nationals because we are all determined to win.”

Nationals are held in Orlando,

Florida in January from the 17th to the 21st.

The competition is broken up by divisions and the competitors are from a variety of different colleges from around the country.

On the Friday before competition, all dancers run through a practice routine, then all day Saturday dancers compete in the semi-finals to find out who makes the top ten.

Once the top ten are determined, the finals round is held on Sunday to determine the winner.

Also held on that Sunday, MGM will shut down part of their amusment park and be available for only the dancers. Team Manager Bethany Gordon said, “It’s exciting that MGM does that, but we would rather go to finals and bring home a trophy.”

With determination to win, the dance team hired and paid out of their student account, a choreographer from Hofstra University to help create their National’s Routine.Gordon said, “I feel confident that this year we will make the top ten because we have really good choreography and our music is much better this year.”

To get to Nationals, the dance team needs a total  of  $14,000.

KSC granted the team a start with supplying $5,900. However, the team still needs a little over $8,000.

To make this money, the team has begun to fundraise. Just a few weeks ago, they held a car wash and raised $200.

The group of 22 dancers poses for a photo opportunity at practice.

The group of 22 dancers poses for a photo opportunity at practice.

Garamella said, “We are doing a Yankee Candle fundraiser in the up and coming weeks and we reach out to Keene Alumni and family to raise money for our trip.”

Even though there are 22 girls on the dance team, competition regulations only allow 16 girls to compete at once.

Gordon said, “We usually have either experienced dancers or alumni Keene State dancers to come in and watch the girls perform and then the captains and I go over their lists and decide who makes the competition team.”

Although only 16 dancers are allowed to compete, all 22 perform at sporting events and Pumpkin Festival.

The team performs different dances during half-time at KSC sporting events, which are in the hip-hop genre to upbeat, new music.

Captain Garamella and Co-captain Gabby Pacheco work together to create the choreography.

When creating new dances, Pacheco said, “Sometimes it can take from an hour to a couple of days to make up a dance. Lisa will create one dance and I create another and sometimes we try to make up a dance together.”

When choosing the right music, Garamella said, “I like to look for upbeat songs and something the crowd would enjoy, I do the mixing myself by using Garageband or Quickmix.”

When the dance team performs for the 2013 Pumpkin Fest, the girls will be dancing to Halloween theme music and their dress attire will be the theme of The Great Gatsby.

As for the new members who have joined the team, freshman Rebecca Fracasse said she is excited to be dancing and competing in a college division.

“It is a little intimidating but more so exciting to be a part of a college team,” Fracasse said.

The girls said the team is looking forward to their first performance at the KSC soccer game, which is held on October 12, 2013 at 1 p.m.

Even though Fracasse is just starting her college dancing career, senior Gordon’s nineteenth year of dancing will be coming to a bittersweet end.

“Dancing is a big part of my life, and the best way to end my career would be to win Nationals,” she said.

To find out more about the dance team contact Lisa Garamella at Lisa.Garamella@ksc.keene.edu and Gabby Pacheco at Gabriella.Pacheco@ksc.keene.edu.


Deanna Caruso can be contacted at


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