IUP Dance Team show off their wins at the Precision Intercollegiate Dance Competition in March 2024.

On Saturday, March 23, the IUP Dance Team participated in their first intercollegiate dance match outside of Pennsylvania, the Precision Intercollegiate Dance Competition, held in Manassas, Virginia. Despite this being the team's first competition in several years (the team was first organized in 2002), the team was successful, earning the judges' award for "most entertaining" performance and other accolades.  

Team members Emily Ruggieri (president), Briana Strayer (secretary), Ellie Frantz, Jillian Latoche, Courtni Tang, Anna Horvath, Bella Locke, Madi Martin, and Natalie Todderdale traveled from Indiana to Virginia on Friday, March 22. The team competed on Saturday, March 23, and quickly returned to IUP on Sunday, March 24. Despite the distance to the competition, fans made the trip to the Hylton Performing Arts Center. There, family and friends cheered on the Crimson Hawks, but a live stream of the performance allowed folks to cheer for the team from a distance.

Team president Emily Ruggieri said, “Before the competition, we were all pretty nervous. It has been a while since we last competed in dance, which was in high school, so we were feeling the pressure. However, once we did our first dance, we felt great! We felt ready to do the rest of the dances, and they all went smoothly. After the competition, we were all super happy!”

IUP Dance Team before performing at the competition.

Ruggieri continued, “We were proud of how we did and were excited to compete in the future. The experience as a whole was amazing! We all had a great time and got along very well. I would say the best part about it is that this group of girls work so well together, and we all feed off each other when we dance, and you can see it on all of our faces that we enjoy what we do.”

Besides being awarded "most entertaining," the IUP Dance Team took third place in the jazz category and second place in the contemporary category. Moreover, the Crimson Hawks were awarded second place as an overall score for the entire competition. This win is even more impressive by the team's extensive training in the days leading up to the competition. Members practiced overtime, pushing their regular practices by showing up early and ending late. These practices were held during the week and on weekends. In total, the team competed in five routines. 

Jeffrey Santicola, the team's faculty advisor, says, "It was famed basketball coach Al Mcquire who said to his team, ‘Work Hard, Play Hard, Have Fun.’ I cannot think of a group of young people who embody that advice more than the IUP Dance Team. As their faculty advisor, I am so proud of the work they put in and the way they go about representing IUP. Their success at this recent competition is due to their desire to be the best they can be. I merely offer my support. The success belongs to the IUP Dance Team members."

The IUP Dance Team is a student-run organization focusing on jazz, hip-hop, and pom-style dance styles. Membership is open to any student enrolled at IUP, and members must audition for the team once each school year. Any interested student may reach out to the team via email at FMVCC@iup.edu. You can also check out upcoming tryouts and events on their Instagram page @iupdanceteam.

Interested in seeing the IUP Dance Team perform live? You can check them out during halftime at both IUP football games and basketball games (during their respective seasons). Talons Up!