Hawkettes take UDA Nationals by storm: RWU dancers place 11th in competition

The Hawkettes Travel Team takes the stage for their jazz routine.

Isabella Gentile, Features Editor

A large castle is visible up ahead. “Roger Williams University” is announced and the applause from the crowd is thundering. After entering through the castle doors, there is no turning back. Everything that the team has worked for is on the line.

This is the atmosphere that the Hawkettes Travel Team came face-to-face with as they prepared to take the floor at the 2019 Universal Dance Association Nationals in Orlando, Fla., where they earned 11th place.

Twelve dancers comprise the Hawkettes Travel Team, though one dancer was unable to attend the competition due to illness. So, the team flew to Florida with 11 girls, and a slightly reworked routine that they were more than ready to perform.

The competition was held on Jan. 19, at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in the Walt Disney World Resort. The Hawkettes competed in the Open Jazz category, along with other Division III teams. Their piece, a jazz routine to Hidden Citizens’ Epic Trailer Version of “I Ran,” was choreographed by senior dance major Samantha Verity.

2018 was the first year that the Hawkettes had ever competed at UDA Nationals. This year, the team placed 11th in their category, improving their score greatly from last year’s event. According to Leeza Regulbuto, president of the Dance Team, some of this can be attributed to extensive attention to detail and more dedication at each practice.

“We took last year as a learning experience to see how we could up the rigor in our practices and be at a higher level to compete with other teams in our division. We spent many extra hours cleaning and going over the fine details to present the most cohesive and best representation of the choreography that Sam set on us,” she said.

All of this additional practice and hard work definitely paid off. Senior Vice President of the Dance Team Alyssa Parrella commented that she saw the team advance further in this year’s competition. Junior Secretary Hayley Peters echoed this sentiment.

“It was great to see the team improve from our first exposure to Nationals last year to this year’s performance,” she said.

With a wider span of knowledge and improvement under their belts, the Hawkettes have gained crucial experience during these trips and will be ready to compete again in 2020. Sophomore Natalia Villareal, co-public relations and fundraising chair, can attest to this. 

“Now that we have been exposed to the rigor of the competition for two years in a row, we are well prepared to take on next year’s Nationals,” she said.