This year’s UDA College Dance National Championship had me invested from start to finish

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Varsity Spirit

Pictured here are the college dance teams of University of Minnesota, Louisiana State University, Ohio State University, and University of Nevada Las Vegas at the 2023 UDA College Dance National Championship.

Each year towards the middle of January, every dancer across the nation—including myself—turns their undivided attention to the UDA College Dance National Championship.

All the college dance teams in the US compete for the national title by performing in the pom, jazz, hip-hop, and gameday categories. These teams spend hours upon hours of strenuous practice, where they have been perfecting their technique and formations, all the way down to arm placements.

During the semi-finals, I was also at a competition; our coaches kept us updated on the drama and shock that was occurring during the entire competition.

One aspect that was shocking to us all was Ohio State University’s jazz performance. They were national champions in 2022 for jazz, hip hop, and gameday, and their jazz turning sequence went viral on social media. This year, during the semi-finals, OSU was carrying out their second turning sequence in the routine, when the dancer in the very center of the formation got completely off-count with the team. All who were watching were absolutely shocked, as this team is known for having flawless turns, and we were all worried about the outcome of the competition.

This year, the team brought controversy to the competition.”

Thankfully, the team still made it to finals—the rest of the routine was flawless—and they got second in both pom and jazz. This is the first time in five years that OSU did not win a national championship. The team that took home first place in those two categories at the University of Minnesota. I have watched both routines multiple times already, but I cannot get enough of their jazz. The routine was choreographed by Talia Favia, who is one of my all-time favorite choreographers. U of M’s jazz dance was absolutely mesmerizing and extremely impressive, and they deserved their win. 

U of M’s pom routine, which also won the national championship title, was just as insane as their jazz. While Ohio State’s pom was also extremely impressive, considering that they began their routine lying down and had incredible transitions, U of M also took the crowd’s—and judges’—breath away. Their routine was extremely high-energy with phenomenal choreography and a music mix that matched perfectly. Once again, another well-deserved win for Minnesota.

One of the other huge categories in the UDA National Championship is hip hop. Last year, Louisiana State University owned the floor with their “Like A Boy” performance, both winning the title and making a statement about college sports. This year, the team brought controversy to the competition. LSU did their routine in heels, which, in my opinion, was incredibly impressive, considering the dynamics and intricacies of hip-hop. Many people, however, did not believe that this specific routine should have been performed in the hip-hop category, but rather in jazz. And while their beliefs are valid, LSU’s routine did not have enough technical moves to be considered a jazz dance; the team just executed a non-traditional hip-hop routine.

Even though their routine was exceptional, LSU placed fourth at nationals this year. First place went to the University of Nevada Las Vegas, and they were insane. Their costumes were slick, their music was radiating throughout the venue, and their choreography was fantastic. I had never seen anything from UNLV before this year, and I fell in love with the team.

I have never been so invested in the UDA National Championship as much as I was this year. The routines were unmatched and the energy among the dancers and the fans was unforgettable; I am already looking forward to next year’s routines.