After months of fundraising the Keene State dance team competes over winter break in Orlando, Florida
The Keene State College Dance Team was one of over a hundred teams that traveled to Orlando, Florida, over break to compete in nationals.
“I think this was our best year because we just put all of our fears aside and tried new tricks that we’ve never even thought of trying,” team secretary Moriah Ferguson said. “We put so much more effort into it, we all just wanted it more.”
The dance team has now made the trip to nationals three of the last four years, but their attendance this year was far from a sure thing.
Forced to find the funds for the trip themselves, the team raised money by writing to family and friends, calling alumni, holding car washes and hosting Yankee Candle fund raisers.
Finally after countless hours—and a lot of help from Vice President of Student Affairs Andy Robinson—the team had the funds for the trip.
“It’s hard because we’re the ones who have to figure out all the financial stuff, whether it’s uniforms or transportation, so it does make an impact,” Ferguson said. “But it makes us a stronger team because we did it all ourselves.”
The team was at a disadvantage in more ways than one. They also were one of the only teams competing without a coach. “Basically, we just hired a choreographer and she was really helpful, she gave us music and great choreography for it,” Team Manager Bethany Gordon said. “With no coach, we just all kind of help each other out, which is pretty cool.”
The team performed it’s hardest routine yet, which they admit came with a few extra bumps and bruises during training.
“The whole last week we had three-a-day practices, just drilling and making last minute decisions and changing up the choreography,” Gordon explained. “So it was definitely a long few months of doing choreography, but it all paid off on the stage because the girls worked hard for it.”
Team Captain Lisa Garamella agreed that the team’s hard work was worth it. “It’s a lot of fun just to be there, and it’s a surreal experience,” Garamella said. “The stage we dance on is a very prestigious stage, if you dance or cheerlead you know what it is and you look forward to it your whole life.”
The trip also brought the team closer.
“So many girls came out of their shell after nationals, they’re going to have a place in my heart for the rest of my life,” Ferguson said. “We’ve had such a great time this year, it’s amazing.”
So now, the team has regional competitions to look forward to. They still plan on dancing at basketball games and staying visible around the campus.
“We’ll be at lacrosse games in the spring and in the community as much as we can be,” Garamella said. “We’ll do Relay For Life and any events we can go to around campus.”
But on the surface it appears the team’s future is uncertain. Six dancers, including captains Garamella and Gabby Pacheco, will be graduating in the spring.
Ten more dancers will be graduating the year after that. It’s the kind of turnover that could derail the progress the program’s made over the last few years.
But, the girls don’t seem worried.
“I think the team is going to get better every year,” Gordon said. “I’m leaving the team feeling like we’re making a difference for the nationals in years to come, it feels good.” Ferguson said there are pros to having underclassmen take over.
“A young team is good, I think it’s better because they work together more and everyone is closer as a team,” Ferguson said.
After overcoming adversity and working so hard this year, it’s hard to believe the team could get any closer.
Zach Winn can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org