The BYU dance team studio has added another banner to it’s nearly filled walls after returning home from Daytona Beach with a 10th National Dance Championship. The Cougarettes earned the Division One title in the Hip Hop category, entering the competition as defending champions. The team achieved a nearly perfect score of 9.984 out of ten for the routine, with one of the judges awarding perfect 10s across the board.
The Cougarettes entered into the Hip Hop category for the first time last year, meaning they’ve won the title every year they have participated.
“Hip hop is not usually associated with BYU,” Cougarette Artistic Director Jodi Maxfield said. “So when we won last year, some people sort of saw it as a fluke.”
However, the Cougarettes showed that was in indeed not a fluke when they earned a near-perfect score and secured the title for a second year in a row.
“We wanted to show people that we could do more and be more than just a technical jazz team,” Head Captain Sarah Russo said. “And we did.”
Team President Megan Phillips said the team felt particular pressure returning as reigning champions.
“Nobody thought we could do Hip Hop,” Phillips said. “But I think we bring something unique in that we have the gospel with us, because when you think Hip Hop you don’t automatically think about the gospel, but I think that what we bring to the hip hop stage is that you can still be a Hip Hopper without compromising your standards and what you stand for.”
Russo said that while traveling and competing, the Cougarettes are often told that there is something “different” and “special” about the team.
“We (did) it in a way that was representative of BYU and we stuck to our standards and what the church would expect of us,” Maxfield said of her team’s routine. “I think that is what I’m most proud of.”
While they attribute much of their success to sheer dedication and hard work, they also credit something more.
“Every day before practice we’d read a scripture and say a prayer,” Phillips said.
She related what it was like to be backstage, waiting to perform. “Your adrenaline is pumping, you can hear the people’s music before you, everyone is out in the crowd watching you. So we pulled together and we had a prayer and read a scripture and the spirit was so strong. I think that every single person on the team just experienced this calm feeling and this contentment just knowing that we were prepared to do this and that we were going to get out there and do the best we could.”