In This Issue
- Conference Early Bird Pricing Still in Effect - Register Now!
- Featured Member - Laura Pucket (College Scholarship Highlight)
- Effective and Safe Stretching - Let's Revisit
- Video - The Easy Coin Drop
- Building Mental Strength
- In the News - Professional Team Wearing More Conservative Uniforms (a new trend?)
Featured Member Laura Pucker of Keiser University Spirit Team
Do you have a talented, hard working, mentally tough dancer who would benefit from receiving a Dance Team scholarship from a 4-year university? If so, meet our NDCA Featured Member, Laura Pucker, who is the Spirit Team (which includes the Dance Team) Coach at Keiser University in Palm Beach, Florida. Keiser University offers scholarships to their dance athletes, and Laura is looking to recruit for her 2019 -20 team.
We know that high school coaches are often looking to help their dancers find ways to pay for college. One important function of the NDCA is to help coaches connect. Read on to find out more about Laura and her program.
Laura Pucker is a Minnesota native who spent her competitive cheer and dance years with Planet Spirit Cyclones Adult Open Cheer team, Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Lynx Energy Team.
She went on to coach the Eden Prairie Competition Cheerleading/Planet Spirit teams for eight years in which she led the team to state titles all eight seasons in addition to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishes at the national level.
Pucker has experience as a judge and choreographer at the national level, having worked with All Star teams in the US and the UK. Pucker is a judge at high school and college dance/cheer competitions. Pucker has also judged at UCA, ACF, ACDA, JAMZ Dance and Cheer Nationals as well as Minnesota and Florida cheer and dance competitions.
Currently, Pucker is the International Director for World's Perfect Athlete, an organization in which she founded and produces events for cheerleaders, dancers, gymnasts, baton twirlers, martial artists and archers by running tournaments and showcases that highlight and reward young men and women who embody the true meaning of athleticism.
Meet Keiser University:
Where is it located? West Palm Beach, FL (8 minutes from the beach)
How many students? 900 (includes many international students)
Academics - 4 year and Masters degrees offered
What majors/programs are the strongest in the school? Keiser offers a range of degrees, but is known for Pre-Med, Nursing, Criminal Justice, Business, and Physical Therapy. It prides itself in being a small, private school that offers one-on-one attention.
Meet the Dance Team:
How many members on the Dance Team? Up to 16
How long has the team been in existence? 2 years
Where do they compete? National Association of Intercollegiate Activities (NAIA) Regionals and Nationals
What styles do they do? Pom, Jazz, and Hip Hop
Is the Dance Team a “Sport”? Yes, and that means dancers receive:
Athletic training services
3-4 practices per week
Academic study hall and support
Uniforms and team gear
What kind of scholarships to they offer? Academic and athletic scholarship packages ranging from $2,000 - $20,000 that must be renewed annually and are awarded based on grades and skill level. Scholarships cover tuition and/or room and board, depending on the needs of the student. Dancers have out-of-pocket expenses for things like eyelashes and under garments.
Do you have to get into the school before auditioning? Yes, but Laura does work with admissions to help the best way she can. Minimum scores for admission are ACT 18, and SAT 860.
When are auditions? They are all done by video on a first-come first-served basis. Laura has a scholarship budget, and once that is spent, no additional scholarships are offered. Team rosters are usually full by June.
How do they run auditions? A video is sent out with directions for creating a video audition packet. Upon submission, it is reviewed by Laura and the AD. Interviews are done via phone.
What characteristics is Laura looking for in dancers?
Talent/training in all three genres
Hard workers who can take constructive criticism
Dancers with good character on and off the dance floor
Dancers who are ready for the independence and responsibility of college life
What is Laura’s coaching style?
Laura likes to work hard and play hard. She has high expectations and delivers honest feedback in an environment of support. She is goal-oriented and holds dancers accountable.
What does Laura like about Keiser University? “The school is very supportive of our program and want us to succeed.”
For more information about Keiser University and the Dance Team, check out the following links:
Dance Audition Video
Advertise Your College/University Program
How To Do It Better
Last month, we shared a video about improving flexibility. One of our NDCA members, Laila Hardman, watched the video and had some informative, and critically honest feedback about the stretching techniques in the video. We appreciate the thoughtful feedback and wanted to share it with you, our membership, so that you will have evidenced-based strategies for improving flexibility while keeping your dancers safe.
"First, the video is truly for the only the most flexible of dancers and not the average dancer. Hypermobility is all over the TV/internet, but most of these dancers are born with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos (hEDS) or hypermobility spectrum disorder (HDS). These dancers can often contort their bodies into shapes but do so without attention to strength, joint position, postural alignment and control which can lead to joint instability, increased strains, sprains and/or chronic pain. I have no doubt that the dancer, Anna, giving instruction on how to improve flexibility was born with a great deal of it to begin with.
What about the many dancers that aren't born with natural flexibility and are legitimately struggling to get flexibility? Seeing a video like not only leads to frustration and feelings of not good enough, but it will lead to injury due to forcing stretches they aren't ready for (especially the super split on the mat.) I also worry inexperienced coaches would look at that video and force dancers into stretches they aren't ready for. When teaching teens and young adults, we have a responsibility to train, educate and protect their growing/changing bodies. Ligaments are designed to support joints and excessive, aggressive stretching can relax these ligaments more and more over time. This can cause an internal shifting of joint surfaces against each other, causing pain in the surrounding muscles (because now they are trying to support the joint), long term wear and tear of the cartilage inside the joint and early degeneration of the joints. And then there is the obvious...making a dancer who isn't ready do super splits, stand a strong chance of a serious hamstring pull.
I love that NDCA is addressing flexibility issues, I just think that safe, step by step instruction should be given, including mentioning the importance of warming up before trying these deep stretches and that it's a process. If the true concern is to improve flexibility and to heighten battements, stretches that target the muscles holding the dancer back needs to be offered as well as just going for the hamstrings. Unfortunately there are still many coaches and teachers who aren't educated on the most recent data regarding stretching and flexibility and they continue to advocate aggressive stretching techniques with little awareness of the long term consequences. These methods are not necessary to achieve healthy mobility. Let's make sure NDCA is helping coaches keep their athletes healthy, highly functional and injury free!"
Thanks Laila. The best part of the feedback she provided is she shared an alternative article to improve flexibility. Click below to learn more about the dangers of overstretching.
So What Now? How Can Dancers Safely Improve Flexibility?
There is an exciting dance training program that graciously offered to share five stretches that you can use with your team to improve battements. Christine from mUvmethod (http://www.mUvmethod.com) has stretch videos and e-booklets coaches can buy to help them get their athletes from point A to point B safely. Start by checking out the article below.