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Competing at College Dance Team Nationals from an Arts Management Perspective

Being a naïve senior in high school, I remember trying out for the Miami University Dance Team. I remember knowing that they did styles I had never tried before but assumed I would be able to catch on fast; After all, one of my strengths had always been being able to pick up choreography. It didn’t end up being that easy. As a freshman at Miami University, I struggled with making the transitions to sharp, hitting movements and forcing myself to match the people next to me. It had gotten so hard at one point that I wondered if it was the right program for me. There was so many other dance programs on campus, some a lot closer to what I was used to than dance team dancing was.

While I struggled the switch of styles in the past, I am so thankful I stuck it out and continued dancing my freshman year. There are so many experiences, like competing at nationals, that are irreplaceable. Last month, I was able to compete at nationals for my third time.

Getting to Daytona as a junior with a fresh background of Arts Management gave me a new perspective this year. National Dance Alliance college nationals are hosted by Varsity Spirit every year. Not only do they put on this competition, they also produce National Cheer Alliance college nationals, United Dance Alliance college nationals, United Cheer Alliance college nationals, as well as high school options for all the previously mentioned competitions. On top of setting up the completion, they also produce merchandise, photography, and other experiences for those that take the time to come down to the competition. While many of these products are drastically overpriced, competitors and family happy pay for them to contribute to the “dance and cheer competition world”.

One unique thing that varsity faces are that their performers are their consumers rather than their employees. Their audience engagement are not just the people that come to watch the competition, but also those who are competing as well. This inevitably causes unhappy customers after every competition as many people take their final placements personally. Every time I have previously competed with Varsity Spirit, I have never thought about the behind the scenes aspects. Now that I have studied Arts Managements at Miami, I know that there is so much more that goes on than I previously thought.

Rachel Wheeler is a junior Finance major with a minor in Dance from Oswego, IL. Outside of her studies, she is also the Marketing Officer and performs on the Miami University Dance Team.

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