The GW women’s dance team, the First Ladies, will take the stage at the national dance championship next month in Florida ranked third in the nation – their highest preseason ranking ever.
The team performs at the Smith Center during basketball games, but team members said placing at the Universal Dance Association’s national championship – held at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., on Jan. 18 and 19 – is their ultimate goal.
“We are obviously ecstatic about being ranked third,” said team member Whitney Ksiazek, a junior. “We beat teams that have been in the top three for years – so breaking that precedent is huge. We have come so far and all of our hard work – we practice almost every day and have morning workouts twice a week – is really paying off.”
During the national competition, the First Ladies will compete in both the hip-hop and dance categories. The team worked with two choreographers, who flew in from California to train with the dancers.
“Our nationals routines are very different than what we do at basketball games,” Ksiazek said. “It is really our time to shine. It is what we really work towards all year long.”
Head coach Alyssa Dagget, in her fourth year leading the First Ladies, said the team placed ninth in the competition last year, but the preseason ranking has them optimistic.
“With such a great ranking in taping, the team is excited to perform and improve their national ranking this upcoming year,” Dagget said. The Division I ranking, which is based off a video submission, also means Universal Dance Association will cover some of the dance team’s travel expenses to the national championship at Disney.
“The girls fundraise every year for the nationals trip, and fortunately this year they do not need to fundraise quite as much due to receiving a partial paid bid,” Dagget said.
Now, after establishing themselves during the preseason, team members said they will continue to work hard until the national championship in January, practicing almost every day, working out twice a week and having double practice sessions for all but one week over winter break.
If the First Ladies place in the top three at national competition, ESPN 2 will air their performances in January.