The Crimson Dance Team
by ELIZABETH GUMMER
What would a Harvard sporting event be without regular breaks to refresh snacks, stretch your legs, and catch some quality performances from the Harvard Crimson Dance Team? Although not every varsity team is lucky enough to be graced with the presence of these upbeat women, the team makes regular appearances at primarily home football and basketball matches. Performing to songs from DJ Snake’s “Taki Taki” to the Lumineers’ “Cleopatra,” the women show a range of ability that goes beyond what is seen in their short duration dances between game quarters.
Devoting around 12 hours each week to team commitments, team workouts range from choreography sessions in the quad at the QRAC to lifting across the river at Palmer Dixon. This year practices are held from 8 to 10 pm on school nights as well as Sunday mornings to avoid academic conflict. Missing practice isn’t really an option, learning new choreography weekly and rehearsing timing with one another requires team members to consistently be in attendance. In addition to practice, the team has recently added lift to their weekly schedule.
The fall is by and large the busiest time for the team. This year CDT upped their amount of game time performances, performing in more football games than years prior. Alongside preparation for weekly routines, the team has to think about preparing for nationals this coming January. Earlier this semester, the team spend the entirety of their Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at their fall choreography weekend to learn their dance for nationals. Learning from New York based choreographer Ali Koinoglou, the team spent nearly 10 hours on Saturday alone setting the groundwork for their upcoming performance.
Nationals take place each year in Orlando, Florida, within Disneyworld. The event is held within the Wide World of Sports, and the team travels and stays in the area for a week of their J-term. Returning back on campus early in January to prepare, the team partakes in their J-term bootcamp in which they spend every day of the week dedicated solely to perfection their routines for the upcoming competition. Co-captain Malila Freeman ‘21 has fond memories of their time on campus without school, noting that being able to focus exclusively on the team for three weeks is both “physically demanding but at the same time so much fun.” This year the team will be performing to Alicia Keys’ “Fallin.”
An incredibly tight knit group, CDT is planning a trip to Cancun post-nationals to celebrate their hard work and bond as a team. Freeman emphasized how important team culture is to the team considering the time they spend together each week in practice, as well as away from dance related activities. Welcoming three new members to the team this year, the group has already taken to hosting mixers, movie nights, and hangouts together to integrate the rookies and continue their tradition of close community.
Freeman reflected on the team culture as truly unique in terms of excitement and energy that is brought to practice each day. Freeman recounts from each practice at least one member expressing how happy they are to be at practice and to be with one another. Each member “does what they do for the team because they think it is fun and they want to be there… People look forward to coming to practice because it is a break from the rest of their lives and they can spend time with people who are so close to one another.”
While some of the choreography in the fall for football and basketball games is done by head coach Mary Ferruolo, CDT members are able to test their own hand at choreography throughout the year. Freeman, along with co-captain Sarah Chin ‘21, recently finished their choreography for the upcoming Crimson Madness event in which the basketball team kicks off their 2019 season. New members of the team will choreograph their first numbers here, and work on putting together a repertoire for the Spring show. Held annually in the Spring semester, the show is choreographed exclusively by members of the team and is free and open to students at the college.
In addition to dancing, the Crimson Dance Team partakes in several community service events throughout the year. This Sunday the team gave their time to the Reebok Boston 10km for Women, an annual run held downtown that inspires women to set and achieve wellness goals. The members of CDT single handedly signed in every single participant in the race this year, aiding thousands of women in their race preparation.
Unable to get full funding from the school due to their club sport status, the team partakes in many creative fundraising efforts throughout the year to pay for uniforms, travel, and coaching. Freeman did express an immense appreciation for the increase in support from the athletics department this year. In previous years team members were responsible for purchasing many vital aspects of their uniforms without team aid. After much coordination with the athletics department over the past two years, the team has been able to increase school aid in purchasing leggings, long sleeve competition tops, and singlets to create a cohesive team uniform. Freeman commented on the increased morale on the team, noting the importance and value that is placed on feeling like a valued member of the Harvard athletic community by being able to present as a unified team.
Aside from school grants, the team makes most of their budget by targeting student generosity. The team is also known for their Harvard-Yale t-shirts and holiday candy grams. While noting that it is difficult to continuously come up with creative and enticing ideas for bringing in extra cash, Freeman hinted at their current effort of selling Yankee Candles as fundraising for the upcoming year.
Look out for the Crimson Dance Team at Crimson Madness this Friday at 7 pm at Lavietes Pavilion for their next performance.
Elizabeth Gummer ‘21 ([email protected]) writes sports for the Indy.