April 25, 2009
By Reggie Philpott
ORLANDO, Fla. - Three months after being crowned national champions, the University of Cincinnati Dance Team has conquered the world as Team USA.
Shortly after the 2009 national championship, the Bearcats learned they would represent the United States in the International Cheer Union's World Cheerleading Championship in Orlando, Fla., on Friday, April 24.
The international championship was the first of its kind for both competitive dance and cheerleading.
Cincinnati arrived at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex sporting Team USA jumpsuits to take on the best dance teams the world has to offer and swept all three dance categories, winning gold in jazz dance, hip hop and freestyle dance.
"The University of Cincinnati was chosen as Team USA for dance because of their record in all disciplines of dance," said ICU president Jeff Webb. "It's perhaps the most well-rounded collegiate level team in the country, and they've done an incredible job. We're real happy with not only the talent and the routines but also the way that they've handled themselves from a character standpoint in representing the country."
The victories represent a major step forward for a dance program that has already reached elite status by winning four of the last six collegiate hip hop national championships.
For the first time ever, UC was able to test its skills against a worldwide collection of teams, and they emerged on top in every category.
"It puts things in perspective," said Jamie Cobb, fourth year team member. "Everyone's so happy to see you and be here, take your picture - we were just excited to see people and what they were bringing, and listen to them talk - and listen to their music. It was culture shock, and we're from this country. I can't imagine what other countries felt coming here."
The Bearcats took the challenges and responsibilities associated with representing the entire country and extended their season by over three months in order to train and ready themselves for a different sort of competition.
The extra time gave the team a chance to modify and refine the two routines they took to the national championship, as well as learn a brand-new freestyle routine.
The jazz routine had previously finished fourth place on the national stage, but the extra work was evident as the Bearcats took the stage for the first of three performances on Friday.
"I think they represented the United States so amazingly well," said Karl Mundt, the choreographer of the jazz routine. "For them to finish their season this way is something that they're going to take with them for the rest of their lives, and it makes everything worth all the sacrifices that they made to be here, so I'm super excited for them."
Just over an hour later, Team USA performed their national championship-winning hip hop routine and again impressed the judges enough to win gold.
"There were certain parts where I knew there was no room for mistakes, and there were none," said Barry Youngblood, the choreographer of the hip hop routine. "It was flawless."
Soon after that, the Bearcats debuted their freestyle dance routine to complete the world championship sweep.
The entire competition is also part of a campaign include competitive dance and cheer in the Olympic games, according to head coach Lisa Spears.
Over 40 countries sent teams or delegates to the competition, with most competing in one or more of the weekend's dance and cheer events.