“And welcoming our next team, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania this is Temple University!” said the announcer as the crowd’s cheers ripple throughout the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. The Diamond Gems Dance Team hit the floor of the Jostens Center and embraced the audience as they prepare to compete at the Universal Dance Association’s College Dance Team National Championship. The moment that they took the stage was the culmination of hours of dedication, perseverance, and the desire to make it to finals in the Division 1A Hip-Hop category.
Two years ago, the team advanced to finals for the first time in Temple’s dance team history and ended the competition by being ranked 8th in the nation.
This year, the dancers were determined to do the same, and perhaps, even place in the top 5 for all D1A Hip-Hop Teams.
The dancers of the Diamond Gems dance team sacrificed nearly their entire winter breaks in order to properly train for the competition. Each practice leading up to the championship is spent learning choreography, cleaning, drilling, and building endurance for the dancers, which takes close to 9 hours per day.
The highly distinguished UDA competition allows teams from around the country to compete in their division for Jazz, Pom, and Hip-Hop dancing. Dependent upon the number of teams in each category, only half of the them will move on to the final round of competition.
Team member and freshman Public Health major, Sylvie Dent, shared what her first experience on the Nationals floor was like. “My immediate reaction was excitement,” she said. “Once I saw the crowd all my fears turned into dust and I was ready to just perform my very best.”
Not only are the girls dancing learning extensive choreography but are also developing their character throughout the process.
Sophomore Early Childhood Education major Madison Diehl spoke about what she drew from the entire Nationals venture. “I gained a lot knowledge about myself as a performer,” she revealed. “For the first time, I felt like I was dancing as one with team rather than just me performing on stage as an individual.”
Ultimately, the team was ranked 7 following the first round of competition, and finished at number 8 in the nation for Division 1A Hip-Hop.
“What I took away from this whole experience, is that winning isn’t (and shouldn’t) be a team’s ultimate goal of Nationals,” says Dent. “Going out on the floor and performing to the best of your ability and being genuinely happy with your performance is all that matters.”
As a member of the Diamond Gems dance team, I can say wholeheartedly that I have never been more proud of a group of girls. I couldn’t have asked to perform on the floor with a more talented team of young women, and I can’t wait to witness this team blossom in the future!
Simone Stancil is a sophomore studying journalism and a member of the Temple Update web staff.