By Maria P.
Suffolk County Community College proudly launched their newest intramural club this past Fall 2011, The Suffolk Dance Team.
Coached by Gina Caputo who is also the coach for our college Cheerleaders, the dance team can be seen supporting Suffolk Men’s and Women’s Basketball games. The team also participates in various charitable events when they’re not spotted showing off their moves and flexibility at practices and half-time performances. Their routines have a strong emphasis on jazz and hip-hop, and all dancers are experienced in both. With the team currently consisting of 10 members and holding practices twice-per-week in the Brookhaven Gymnasium on the Ammerman Campus, the dance team’s diligent attitude and work ethic is heavily portrayed in their energetic routines.
“I’ve been coaching the Suffolk Cheerleaders for many years and this past year, I was asked to coach the dance team.” Says Gina. “The dance team was originally only at the Grant Campus in Brentwood, and was moved to the Ammerman Campus this past Fall.” Since the Ammerman Campus in Selden is the largest and most populated of the 3 college locations, it can allow the dancers to gain more recognition due to a more lively campus life and bigger student body.
As coach, Gina is expected to run the team and do all necessary tasks to maintain the team’s success and progress as a whole. Gina choreographs all routines; however there are also girls on the team with experience in the field who help out. “We are very lucky to have such talented girls on the team who help choreograph routines.”
Members of the dance team say they enjoy being a part of the team and have been active dancers before attending Suffolk. They believe being part of a team is a wonderful experience, and gives the opportunity to meet new people and learn from one another. Alyssa, an active member of the SCCC Dancers says being a part of the team has helped her make new friends and work together as a whole, all while focusing on her passion for dance.
“Being a part of the team in itself is awesome because even though I knew a lot of the girls before I started, I still got to meet new people and make new friends. There were girls I least expected to become close with over time, and we learned to respect each other and accept our differences” Alyssa says.
Although the team is together mostly during practices and games, they have become close since it started and spend time together outside of their scheduled meetings and performances. “We have done group activities together and dinners, mainly when we went away for regionals and another time when we volunteered at Foley nursing home around Christmas time with the Cheerleaders.” Alyssa went on to explain how the team landed her a couple of close friends, one of which she is planning to attend the same college and room with this upcoming Fall.
There are also times where the girls will meet up after practices or games, completely during their own time to catch up, grab food, and hang out. They also practice together outside rehearsals, and help one another with new routines that were learned in case one member missed practice or is simply having trouble grasping the choreography.
Although this is the first year that the dance team has been at the Ammerman Campus, the future goals of the team include much more than just halftime performances and charity events. “We hope to someday compete in UCA and UDA competitions.” Says Coach Gina. UCA/UDA (United Cheer and Dance Association) promotes and hosts competitions for college-level dance teams internationally. They host various regional competitions as well as national competitions in Florida, with teams competing from all over the country and globe.
Since the Suffolk Dancers are considered student athletes, it is heavily enforced that they balance out their active dance schedule with school and outside-of-school activities. They are required to maintain a 2.0 GPA or better, as well as have a full-time student schedule which means taking 12 credits or more.
Tryouts are held prior to the start of each semester, where Coach Caputo determines various qualities about the prospective dancer. She looks for skill level, abilities as a leader, sportsmanship, and overall presence when performing and while in the crowd. The dance team selection is strictly based upon the discretion of the coach. Before trying out, each dancer must also have medical clearance from their doctor along with psychical forms which are available at the athletic office, or can be downloaded off the SCCC athletic website.
For more information on tryouts and the team, contact Gina Caputo.
Phone number: 631 451-4380