Dance Team aims for nationals

New coach and new choreographer get dancers to express themselves

By Andrea Huls
Photo by Andrea Huls

PHOTO CAPTION: Choreographer Sara Hussien and coach Dr. Nadia Ramoutar help the dance team get in shape for the prospect of competing in the nationally-televised College Dance Team National Championship at Walt Disney World Resort early next year.

It is 7:30 p.m. and the Flagler College Dance Team has been practicing non-stop for over an hour. This year, the team is ready to break the old stereotypes and show what they are really made of.

For a moment they catch their breath as choreographer Sara Hussien speaks, “If you don’t have the feeling, [it] is just a bunch of steps.” She has been observing them closely. “There is nothing wrong with being sexy. It is not a sin, not when you are dancing.”

This why Dr. Nadia Ramoutar, the new dance team coach and communication professor, has brought Hussien to the team. Ramoutar wants the team to lose their inhibitions, feel confident and express their energy and passion. “She is treating them the way she would in a New York dance studio or anywhere else,” Ramoutar said.

According to senior captain Shannon Ryan, 21, dance requires a lot of hard work.

“To have her [Hussien] coming in and teaching technique is awesome, because it helps us become better dancers,” she said.

Ramoutar has always loved the art of dance, and she volunteered this year to be the coach to give them the opportunity to show their talent. “If they are going to take themselves seriously, they should seek to be at highest possible level,” she said.

One of her goals is to make the 2007 College Dance Team National Championship at the Walt Disney World Resort, Jan. 12-14. The team needs to submit a video tape before Nov. 1.

“Part of my approach has been, whether they are going to nationals or not, treat them as if they are,” Ramoutar said. “That is what makes them better dancers.”

Besides having Hussien train the ladies every Sunday, Ramoutar works with Assistant Coach Holly Hill to get the girls in shape. This consists of kick-boxing, yoga, boot camp, and other kinds of cross-training. “To be able to do this type of dance you have to very athletic, fast, and be able to move quickly because there is a lot going on,” Ramoutar said.

Even nutrition is a priority for them. On Oct. 8, alumnus Josh Romaine, who runs St. Augustine Adventure Boot Camp, came to talk to the team about nutrition and preventing injuries.

To strengthen the team, Ramoutar has created four committees — choreography, costume design, fund raising and community involvement — because she feels the ladies need to be a team, and not just on the dance floor.

With a budget of $4,000 a semester, fund raising is necessary to help cover additional expenses such as costumes, make up, choreography and music.

Ramoutar feels community involvement is very important. The team plans give free dance lessons at the Boys and Girls Club on West King Street.

“In this community, usually only rich children get to dance, and I want to take the talent from the dance team and get them active in promoting the art of dance,” Ramoutar said.

According to senior Kathy Call, 22, the hard work of the team often goes under-appreciated.

“Unfortunately, we haven’t had the best reputation, and we are hoping to turn that around this year for the future so they view us as a real sports team.”

Ryan feels the same way. “I don’t think we have enough support. We put a lot of hard work into it, and people need to come see it.”

Regardless if they make it to nationals, Ramatour thinks very highly of her team.

“I want to empower these women to be leaders, to be visionaries, to be creative, to make a difference,” she said.

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