Jasper Dancers Win 6th in the Nation at NDA Nationals

Jasper Dance Team in Daytona Florida for NDA Nationals. @MANHATTANCOLLEGEDANCETEAM/COURTESY

By Maizy Swift, Asst. Production Editor

The Jasper Dancers took sixth place at the NDA National Championships in Daytona, Florida. The week prior, the squad held their National Showcase in Draddy Gymnasium, showing off both their jazz and hip hop routine for the competition. Previously, the team won in 2019 in division one for Hip Hop. 

The Jasper Dancers began learning their national’s routines in early October and have been working hard to overcome challenges in order to do their best at the NDAs. 

At the showcase, Sara Rodriguez, a senior on the dance team, described some hardships the team had faced this season.

“When you have 20 dancers coming from very different backgrounds and very different styles and skills, bringing that all together is such a challenge,” Rodriguez said, “but I think Liz and Taylor, our coaches did such an amazing job this year with making us become coherent and cohesive and it just really made this routine and made the team just absolutely great and I think we’ve overcome those challenges really well.”

Overall, Rodriguez believed that what truly mattered was that the team did their best.

“There’s nothing to be nervous really about, we’re gonna go out there we have two amazing routines and they’re gonna kill it no matter what and the whole thing about this is like, you don’t know what anybody else is gonna bring and at this point, we’re gonna do what we can do and we have the best and it’s just gonna hit it, whatever we got.”

The head coach of the dance team, Lizz Henrich, stated their goals for the NDA Nationals.

“I think it would just be to continue the legacy and it’s truly not about winning for us, it’s making a name for Manhattan College in the collegiate dance space as being a premier team that’s out there.”

Henrich also explained how the team hopes to expand. Henrich said,

“I think that any team that does well at the highest level that they possibly can is worth a better name for themselves, and we continue just to keep growing the program not only at Manhattan College but for people looking to attend the school and dance.”

The assistant coach, Taylor Post, also noted the team’s excitement and hard work.

“We’re really excited, the girls have worked incredibly hard, as Lizz mentioned in the room during the showcase, they gave up their spring break and they gave up their winter break to be here practicing countless hours so they’re ready and the teams are ready to be seen.”

Brylee Watkins, a junior on the team, commented on what winning would mean for her. 

“So many people don’t know how many hours we put in, in this gym, outside of the gym, in practice and outside of practice,” Watkins said. “so winning would kind of just be a manifestation of all of our hard work not only this season but throughout our entire dance.”

Once in Daytona, the dance team first participated in the Jazz competition on April 6. The jazz routine ranked 17, and although they did not make it to finals, they got the highest jazz score in Jasper Dancer history. 

Olivia Corsino, a junior who was in the jazz routine revealed some ways she hopes the girls can get better team-wise. 

“I think we should be bonded more as a team.” Corsino noted. “I think that was one of our biggest struggles this year, I want everyone to be fully supportive of one another and to learn what it means to be like a collegiate teammate, like work ethic-wise, and then also just being there for each other’s lives.”

This year, the team performed routines with their style, which could have an effect on the scoring. Corsino explained,

“Even though when you compare what we did this year to last year how both dances almost didn’t place as high, the scores themselves were so much better. I think the biggest thing is that we put out dances that aren’t typical NDA, we do a lot more unique and creative routines.”

Katie Rachman, a junior on the team who was also only in the jazz routine, further talked about the scoring of the routines. 

“When you look at the score breakdown, our score was actually higher than jazz finals last year, so regardless of placement, it’s still an incredible achievement, and I believe, I know at least I can speak for myself that we’re all very, very proud of what we put out on the jazz stage,” Rachman said. 

On April 7, the team performed the hip hop routine, which they received a 91 for, placing sixth. 

“In terms of hip hop, while I wasn’t in the routine, our score was a 91, which is an incredibly high score,” Rachman said, “and I’m just so proud of them and the improvement that I even saw, from the prelim performance to the finals performance was incredible and I love watching that routine.”

Being an alternate, Rachman was only in the jazz routine. She expressed the struggles that come with the role of an alternate in the dance world. Rachman said,

“I think a challenge is being an alternate because it’s that balance of wanting to be in that routine, but also wanting to be the best team member possible and understanding that’s not the role for you this season, and just trying to come to terms with a balance of understanding it for yourself and processing it for yourself but still being there for the other girls that you love and wanting to support them.”

Overall, the experience of NDAs was an unforgettable one for Rachman.

“There’s just your love for dance and it doesn’t matter what you just may have done on stage if it was good or bad, you just love dance, you love the people around you,” Rachman said, “I think that feeling is just the best part of nationals. I’m so glad that I got to experience it again this year.”

This year The Manhattan College Jasper Dancers made their school proud by working hard and placing sixth in the NDA Nationals, paving the way for more opportunities for this team in the future.