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PROVO — The Brigham Young University Cougarettes recently captured two national titles at the largest collegiate dance competition in the United States.
The dance team competed against 20 other teams in the 1A division in the open dance category and 11 teams in the hip-hop category. The Cougarettes received scores of 9.898 and 9.853 out of 10, according to Jodi Maxfield, the team's artistic director/coach.
The team’s two-minute open dance routine was a lyrical/contemporary piece choreographed by Karl Mundt from Boston. The team learned the routine in October, but didn’t start seriously practicing until mid-February.
This is the third year the Cougarettes have competed in the open dance category, and they’ve won each time. This routine is judged on things like artistry, technique, uniformity, staging, formation, performance impression, collegiate image and difficulty, Maxfield said.
The hip-hop routine, which has gleaned more than 1.5 million views, was choreographed by Shandon Perez from California. Perez taught the girls the routine in January, but the team has been practicing the hip-hop tricks inside and outside of class since August.
This is the fifth year the team has competed in this category, and it has won first place four times. Last year, it won second place. The hip-hop routine is judged on aspects such as hip-hop technique, uniformities, staging, formations, difficulty, performance impression, how the team relates to the audience and collegiate image, Maxfield said.
She said that as a dance team representing BYU and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they’ve been able to stand out, because they have repeatedly proven that they don’t need to have a “shock value” and don’t need to “be sexy or do things that are inappropriate or make people uncomfortable in order to win national titles.
“We’ve been able to do it all the while maintaining our standards,” Maxfield said.
In the 25 years Maxfield has coached the Cougarettes, the team has claimed 15 national titles. Maxfield said people sometimes say ‘oh, the Cougarettes won again,’ but that “each one of those titles has not come without a price.”
Maxfield said this has been one of the most unique years they’ve ever had as a team.
“You know, for these dancers, I don’t think they fully comprehend what they have done,” Maxfield said. “I mean, yes, win a national title, but the way that they have impacted so many people is pretty unique and pretty special, and as their coach, I can tell you that this doesn’t happen often, and so it’s something that I hope that they really recognize and cherish what it is they’ve done.”
The National Dance Alliance Collegiate Dance took place in Daytona Beach, Florida, April 9-11, where more than 3,000 competitors from several different divisions attended.
The Cougarettes have attended this conference for the last 18 years and have won titles in 12 of those years, Maxfield said.
Maxfield said many people think of the Cougarettes performing short routines at football and basketball games, but that in reality, they are very versatile.
“We have a little bit of everything, and these girls are very well-trained and they’re able to do it all,” Maxfield said.
“I think that’s one of the things that really makes us so successful on the national level because we’re able to present an artistic and technically sound routine in the open division, and then turn right around and do something that is very hard-hitting and powerful and that contains a lot of tricks," she added.