Sam Houston State University student Melissa Compian has been performing dance routines on stage since she was just a little girl. Dancers that have years of experience, dedication and hard work like Compian make up the Sam Houston State University Orange Pride dance team.
“This year starts my eighth year of training and performing with a team,” Compian said. “Orange Pride has been wonderful! We are an extremely dedicated team made up dancers with different styles, each with a talent to contribute to our group as a whole.”
Compian, four other members of the dance team and two members of the co-ed cheerleading squad were awarded All-American statuses at the National Cheer Association/National Dance Association Cheerleading and Dance Collegiate Camp July 24-25 at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
The All-American Collegiate Dancers awarded from Orange Pride were Gloria Smith, Hillary Villman, Compian, Hannah Shields and Everest Guerra.
Awarded All-American Collegiate Cheerleaders were Nick Woodward and Holly Vonderau from the co-ed squad.
Both the dance team and the squad worked to improve their dance and cheerleading skills over the weekend at the NCA/NDA SMU College Camp with schools from across the region.
“The camp provides us with a chance to work around other teams and to show the collegiate dance world what we have to offer before nationals,” Compian said.
In order to receive an All-American award, the NCA/NDA judges nominate the dancers to perform a short choreography and the cheerleaders to successfully perform a set of six or seven skills that include tumbling, stunting and a jump.
“The camp staff watches everyone the entire weekend,” Shields said. “The last day when everyone has performed, they announce the All-American nominees. We then had to learn a short dance in 20 minutes and perform it while the whole camp watched us.
“At the final award ceremony they announced the All-Americans from all of the cheer and dance teams,” Shields said.
Last year, Orange Pride received a “half paid silver bid,” where they advanced to the NDA National Competition in Daytona Beach, Fla., and placed second. The team returned this year to receive a “gold full bid,” and will again compete in the NDA National Competition in 2010.
“This year was so much fun,” Villman said. “Although the camp is very intense and tiring, I got to share it with the girls that I love and achieve our ultimate goal of winning a full-paid bid to nationals.”
The co-ed cheerleading squad came back home with a bronze bid and new techniques.
“Being able to see all of the NCA staff showing us different techniques and stunts really helped out,” Woodard said. “I’ll be able to come back and apply it to our squad.”
NCA/NDA camps have served generations of cheerleaders and dancers around the world, according to the National Cheer Association. They teach leadership, strong support of school athletic teams, the pursuit of skills excellence and safety, and teamwork.
“Being able to go to this collegiate dance camp is a huge accomplishment in itself,” Shields said. “Not many can say they have taken their sport or hobby to this level.”
Orange Pride was also awarded the “Most Spirited Team,” the all-girls squad received third place in the All-Girl Cheer Off competition in their division and was awarded a bronze paid bid. The co-ed squad also received first place in the Co-Ed Cheer Off competition within their division.
“Being on Orange Pride has been an amazing experience. It’s allowed me to be more involved with SHSU, make a bunch of life long friends, and to compete in a collegiate national championship,” Villman said. “And being awarded All-American dancer, I was very surprised and very, very excited. I feel honored to be able to represent SHSU in this way.”