For the first time in 10 years, the Ramapo College Dance Team (RCDT) took home a first-place win at the National Dance Alliance College Nationals. The team traveled to Daytona, Florida on April 4 where they performed in the Division III (DIII) hip hop and team performance categories.
With a score of 88.6571 out of 100 possible points, RCDT are the 2023 DIII hip hop national champions. This year’s hip hop routine had nine dancers, and it was only the second time RCDT has brought a hip hop dance to nationals.
Hip hop leader and junior, Anja Rundlett, said that this year’s routine was much different from last year. Their last routine did not really have a theme; they were more focused on “performance quality and just going out there and giving on a show.” This year, the routine was focused on “strength, swagger and girl power.”
“We’re hoping as a team to receive a little bit more recognition for our work.”
– Demi Rooyakkers
The team started working on the hip hop routine in early fall, before they started team performance, that was filled with new kinds of demanding tricks and moves, another thing that was different from last year. Rundlett said the team really put in a lot of work and effort this year, and there was evident growth and improvement from when they began the routine.
“I remember first joining the team and a lot of us not being as confident in the style of hip hop, and then just a few short years later, we are DIII hip hop national champions,” Rundlett said.
Hip hop was not the team’s only success: RCDT placed fifth in DIII team performance, with a score of 89.25. Team
performance is a combination of three styles of dance — jazz, hip hop and pom. Eight dancers performed in this routine,
which used music from the song “Lost Boy” by Ruth B.
“I would say, personally, it’s more challenging than our hip hop routine,” Captain and junior Demi Rooyakkers said. “You have to kind of reset into each different style within one dance. So this year, we had jazz first, and then pom, which is more hard hitting and it’s about your lines, timing and uniformity, and then we went into hip hop, which is more about style… it gets really hard stamina-wise at the end of the routine.”
Returning back to campus after their first place win, Rooyakkers said, “We’re hoping as a team to receive a little bit more recognition for our work.” The four student leaders of the team said that they do feel like RCDT is overlooked by the college and other athletics, but they do not let it discourage them. Instead, they use it as motivation.
“We work just as hard as the athletes on this campus,” game day leader and junior Gianna Diorio said. RCDT practices all year long, even over summer and winter break, and their work and dedication definitely has paid off.
Technique leader and junior Tacy Andrews said the other “driving force” this season for the team was being able to win first place for their coaches, who are RCDT alumni and performed on the team when they last won nationals ten years ago.
“It was a very emotional moment for them, because not only did they win as athletes, but now they’re winning as coaches,” Diorio said.
Something else special about this year’s team is there are no seniors. All of the current dancers will be returning next year, to what seems like it will be an incredibly successful season.
“We’re definitely hungry for [first place] for our senior year,” Rooyakkers said.