The Miami University Dance Team (MUDT) leaves today for Daytona Beach, Florida to compete at National Dance Alliance Nationals from April 5-9.

The team is partially funded by club sports and is comprised of 27 dancers from various dance backgrounds. All 27 girls will fly to Daytona Beach, but only 18 will take the stage to perform the routine MUDT has been rehearsing since November.  

“I’m looking forward to stepping out on that stage one last time and giving it my all,” senior captain Kira Osowski says. “This group of girls, especially this year, has been so positive and driven and just excited to be here.”

The dancers underwent rigorous tryouts in late July and early August to qualify for Nationals. The University of Louisville hosts an annual three-day camp that determines which teams will make the trip to Florida. They teams from U.S. universities and around the world, are required to perform a previously rehearsed routine as well as a new routine learned at the camp.

MUDT received a “bronze” bid this year in the 1A category and will compete against other large universities that received got silver and gold bids. The bronze, silver, gold system determines how much of a team’s trip to Florida will be covered by NDA. Miami will compete with a routine crafted by guest choreographers in November and practiced for several hours every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday since then.

The club sport became entirely student-run four years ago, so practices are directed by Osowski and junior captain Sarah Krumm.  Each has been dancing for 18 years, with training in ballet, jazz, hip-hop, modern, lyrical and pom (a style like cheerleading, with pom-poms).

Freshman Ally Vaughan has been dancing since she was four — competitively since middle school.

All three came to Miami hoping to continue doing what they love. They found that in the dance team.

“Our team motto is ‘DT Heart,’ so we have pride in passion, dedication, family and a love for dance,” Osowski said.

After trying out for the team the spring before their freshman year, the girls attend camp in Oxford a week before school starts to work on technique and material for sporting events. Practice is held four days a week and even during breaks, with the team holding each other accountable via Facebook video uploads. The girls come back a week early during J-Term and stay on campus for spring break, practicing until the team steps on the plane to Florida early Wednesday morning.

“Everyone just wants the best for each individual. We’ve really embraced the ‘DT Heart’ motto and everyone’s just so positive and excited,” Crumm said. “Everyone has so much determination and desire to be at practice each and every day, which has really been awesome to see.”

Last year, this determination culminated in a third-place finish. The team is looking to repeat or beat that standing this year.

Ally Vaughan has been watching and waiting for her chance to compete at Nationals for five years. As a freshman, she struggled with MUDT’s style of dance. But she’s now earned one of 18 spots on the Nationals team.

“As the year has gone on, my team has helped me out so much and we do stuff together all the time so it’s more than just a dance team,” she said. “It’s gotten a little bit easier, and it’s a lot of fun. I love it.”

For the past 27 days, the 27 MUDT members have taken turns offering words of advice and motivation. Over the course of the next four days MUDT will attempt to channel a love for dance and a year’s worth of hard work into two minutes and 14 seconds of perfection.

“The biggest thing is going to be once we get off the stage breathing that deep breath and saying, ‘we really did this,’” Osowski said. “And feeling that accomplishment for all of the hard work.”