PRINT: Dance your heart out with the FAU Dance Team

Leap your way into an award-winning team while getting a degree.


The girls on the dance team walk out to the stadium during the 2019 season. Photo courtesy of the FAU Dance Team.

Natalia Ribeiro, News Editor

Editor’s note: This story is in the UP’s latest issue that can be found digitally through our Issuu page.

You might have seen them at sports games or heard about them through social media. But how much do you know about the university’s award-winning dance team?

The dance team has been around since 1988, when it used to be called FAU Motion at that time. The program took a break and returned in 1996. The team calls the dancers Fly Girls, as the university’s spirit program consists of both the cheerleading and dance team. Although cheer and dance teams are under the same program name, the teams aren’t mixed together.

“It began under the direction of Anessa Castello,” said head dance coach and spirit coordinator Claudia Soto, who is an alumna. “She was also my coach, my first year.”

While COVID-19 has made the season different for the dancers, they learned to not take anything for granted. Due to the pandemic last year, they were not able to compete at their Nationals competition. Nationals are basically a competition where the team will compete against different college dance teams from around the country.

“It’s so important to always be in the moment and [be] thankful for the opportunity that we have to dance,” said team captain Trinity Kueter. “You never really know what tomorrow holds.”

The team has gained recognition in the past couple years. Three of the last four seasons had the team place in the top five in the nation at the National Dance Alliance (NDA) competition.

“Our highest placement was second in 2018,” said Soto. “That is pretty awesome as a coach to see them succeed.”

Potential and a strong foundation in dance are two aspects that the team looks for in prospective dancers.

“What we do want to make sure is that they have the potential to get to the point of all being similar dancers,” said Soto. “It’s really kind of individual potential.”

Throughout the Fall semester, the dancers commit anywhere from 10 to 12 hours of practice per week, in addition to any of their game performances. In the Spring semester, hours range from 12 to 14 as the dancers practice for their performance at nationals.

“It just really depends on how much practice you need and how caught up we are,” said Soto.

The dancers learn a variety of styles throughout their season. Hip-hop and pom for entertainment performances at sports games and jazz for nationals.

“I think we’re a well rounded team,” said Soto.

It’s performances like the nationals routine that will get dancers to try-out, according to Kuether. After her sister showed her the FAU Dance Team 2018 Nationals Video, their performance inspired her to try-out for the team.

“I [didn’t] know if I was gonna make it but I wanted to try out,” said Kueter. “I’m super happy that I did because it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

For second-year member Elizabeth Machado, the dance team is the reason they chose to attend the university.

“I had heard great things about the program and following them on social media [,] it really solidified that I did want to come here and try out for the team,” said Machado. “It’s one of the top reasons I came here.”

While being part of a team requires a lot of hard work and commitment, the memories the dancers and coaches make are priceless.

“My favorite memory was taking the nationals stage in 2019,” said Kueter. “That’s been one of the most amazing experiences, that feeling is probably one I’ll never forget.”

For a dance team coach, the dancers are students first and then athletes. Seeing them graduate is an accomplishment in itself.

“One of the biggest accomplishments is watching them be a college graduate at the end,” said Soto.

It also helps knowing that a former team member got a big opportunity. Alumna Rachel Marshy graduated in 2020 and is now a cheerleader for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The team defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in the most recent Super Bowl earlier this year.

Machado is extremely proud that Marshy was able to be a part of the dance team in her college days.

“It’s just very eye opening that even though it is dance, so many other doors and opportunities may fly open that you might not get to experience without being a member of this team.” Machado said.

Natalia Ribeiro is a news editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet her @nataliar_99.