A Dancer’s Super Bowl

The Universal Dance Association College Nationals recently wrapped up. Dancers across the country were tuned in to watch one of the most anticipated events of the year.


Photo Courtesy of the University of Minnesota Dance Team

The University of Minnesota Dance Team celebrates their many wins at the UDA Nationals.

Camryn Gray, Arts and Entertainment Editor

It’s one of the most anticipated events for dance fanatics everywhere, the Universal Dance Association Nationals or UDA, which recently happened in Walt Disney World in Florida. The Universal Cheer Association Nationals or UCA are also occurring in Orlando, but the intent of this article is to summarize the 2023 UDA Nationals.

It is important to note that not every college and university attends UDA. Many attend NDA (National Dance Alliance) or other competitions for collegiate dance teams. The categories of UDA vary from jazz, hip hop, game day routines, and more for the schools in attendance. The two main divisions of the UDA nationals are Division IA and Division I, each of which holds various schools. There is also an open category in addition to the main divisions. These teams practice endlessly to try to win one of the most coveted awards for college dance teams.

Some colleges are known for their outstanding dance teams, and they are recognized for certain skills within their dance teams. The University of Minnesota, Ohio State, Louisiana State University, Pennsylvania State, University of Tennessee, and far more schools represent some of the best dance teams across the country. These schools also have niche talents that many dance fans await to see. For example, LSU is known for hip hop, OSU is famous for turns, and other schools stand out in their own ways. 

The game day routine category consisted of the various colleges and universities competing their routines that they would typically do for a game. Whether the game is football or basketball, these dance routines involve the typical choreography seen during games. There are different divisions of this category as there are also divisions amongst the other categories as well. 

In the Division IA game day routines, The University of Nevada-Las Vegas won in the semifinals, and they continued their victorious ways in the finals. The University of Memphis and The University of Alabama were close runners-up in the finals and semifinals.

Division I game day category included less state schools and other large schools compared to Division IA, but there were still many large and famous schools in attendance. Hofstra University, like The University of Nevada-Las Vegas, won both the semifinals and the finals for their division. The University of Nebraska-Omaha and Southeastern Louisiana State University were runners ups in both the finals and the semifinals. 

Division IA had fierce competition during the pom routine round, which consisted of the dancers using pom poms during their dance. The winner of the Division IA group was no surprise, considering they are known for being one of the best dance teams across the country. The University of Minnesota won in the finals for their outstanding routine. The height of their leaps, the technique of their movement, the concise turns, and more led to the victory. Ohio State and The University of Tennessee, also reputable teams, were runners up for their turns, technique, and intensity. 

The pom routines in the Division I category showed great skill and choreography with the use of pom poms. Saint Joseph’s University won in both the semifinals and the finals, with Hofstra University and The University of Nebraska-Omaha as runners up in both rounds. 

The hip hop category, specifically the Division IA hip hop, always is a fan favorite. LSU’s performance was long-awaited after their performance last year went viral on social media. The group performed in heels and wore sunglasses but still came up short of the national title. The University of Nevada-Las Vegas won yet again in both the semifinals and the finals. San Diego University and the University of Memphis were close runners up in the semifinals and the finals.

Hip hop competition was intense during the Division I category, with St. John’s University taking the lead in the semifinals. However, the team came up short in the finals to the University of Delaware. Saint Joseph’s University and Grand Canyon University also delivered great routines and were runners up in both rounds.

Division IA jazz was an intense category full of competition. Ohio State brought out their famous turn sequences, which led them to victory in the semifinals. However, the University of Minnesota brought a tenacity that intrigued the judges enough to win another national title. Florida State University and the University of Tennessee were runners up in this category and division for both the finals and semifinals.

Meanwhile, Division I jazz was full of dancers eager to take a national title home. The University of Saint Thomas was the winning team in the semifinals, and they continued their talents to win the finals. Grand Canyon University and UC Santa Barbara were close runners up in both rounds but came up a few points short of the national title.

There are open categories for each of the various dance styles seen during the competition (jazz, hip hop, game day,  and pom), but they are often overlooked by many that watch the UDA competition. The pom category was successful for St. Cloud University in the semifinals, but Minnesota State University-Mankato won the finals. The hip hop category brought a victory for Lindenwood University, while the University of Minnesota-Duluth won in the open jazz category.  The schools that compete in the open categories work as hard as the other schools and therefore deserve recognition in a summary of UDA.

While UDA nationals showcased the outstanding talents of many dancers, the routines were not all perfect. Unfortunately, some dancers fell out of their turns or turned on a flat foot due to a loss of momentum. There was also some unstable footwork and some other mistakes as well, but all of the schools are evidently so talented that they will not be remembered for these mistakes. 

The UDA Nationals was a successful event, with a variety of schools taking home national titles. It is clear that the competition at this event is only getting better, more difficult, and more talent-rich.