They say there's no "I" in "team"—and nowhere is that truer than the world of college dance teams, where precision reigns, uniformity is key, and a single misstep from any given "I" can cost a group a championship trophy. So it's unsurprising that securing a spot on one of the best dance teams in the country is no easy feat.
Members of these highly athletic teams rehearse for hours every week—on top of academic classes and commitments—and perform at football and basketball games, annual concerts, and nationally televised competitions (hi, ESPN). And "no I" rule notwithstanding, each of these top teams is made up of highly trained, highly technical, highly hard-core individuals, who come together to create a ready-for-victory pack.
These six teams aren't one-off success stories—they're consistently strong, and earn the top spots at major competitions like UDA and NDA nearly every year. Up for the challenge? Here's what to know before you go to auditions.
When Ruby Castro became a Top 10 finalist on "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 13, she was a fresh, feisty new face to most at-home viewers. But in the dance world—particularly on the ballroom circuit—Ruby was already a household name. Miami-based Ruby grew up as a belle of the ballroom: Her parents, Manny and Lory Castro, are veritable superstars of the scene. They're the owners of Dance Town, an ultra-competitive studio in Doral, FL, and raised Ruby to follow in their furiously fast footsteps. Before she graced the "SYT" stage, Ruby had already been named a U.S. Junior Champion in Latin Ballroom, and competed on "America's Got Talent"—twice!
So, we know she's talented, we know she's versatile, we know she's stunning, and we know she can dance. But here's what you may not know about Ruby.
When Camryn Bridges burst onto the "Dance Moms" scene in 2016, she made immediate waves. Sure, there was the inevitable reality TV drama that's bound to happen whenever a new cast member joins the crew—but then there was the fact that Camryn was good. Between her explosive jumps, her total commitment to each routine, and her ability to wring herself out every time she hit the stage, Camryn quickly became a force to be reckoned with.
Though "Dance Moms" has since closed up shop, Camryn is still crushing the dance scene, the convention scene, and her Instagram game. (A quarter million followers can't be wrong!) Here's what else you should know about the St. Louis, MO, native.
When "So You Think You Can Dance" decided to shake up its format during its 13th season, featuring dancers under 18, reactions were mixed. But even the most skeptical viewers couldn't help but fall in love with tiny tapper Emma Hellenkamp, who ended up shuffling her way to the finale, ultimately nabbing the third runner-up spot. Emma, who was paired with former "SYT" winner and fellow tapper Gaby Diaz, wowed fans every single week with her furiously fast feet, larger-than-life smile, and sweeter-than-candy personality. Here's a little peek at a few of this versatile comp kid's favorite things.
It's hard not to gush about choreographer Lauren Adams. The always-smiling 24 Seven faculty member has a heart of gold, and the moves to match: She's a contemporary queen who can also hold her own in the ballroom and at the ballet barre. Add the fact that she's a total knockout, and it's safe to say Lauren is equal parts #goals and #girlcrush. So how does she stay so happy, healthy, fit, and fabulous? Here are her secrets.
Maud Arnold is one of the busiest tap dancers on the planet. As a member of the Syncopated Ladies, Maud—along with her big sis and fellow tapper Chloé Arnold—is on constantly the road for performances, workshops, and master classes. For the average person, that kind of schedule could lead to a serious derailment of healthy habits. But Maud's far from average. Here's how the fit, fierce, flawless tap star stays stage-ready—no matter what time zone she finds herself in.
"So you Think You Can Dance" Season 14 finalists Lex Ishimoto and Taylor Sieve shocked fans at home (at least the ones who hadn't thoroughly scoured their respective Instagrams) during Episode 14, when choreographer Mia Michaels asked if either of them had ever experienced "the kind of love that takes your breath away." They confessed that, yup, they had—with each other. The two met at The Dance Awards in the summer of 2016, where they were each named Senior Best Dancer, and went on to tour with the convention as assistants. Before long—and long before their "SYTYCD" journey—they became a couple.
Take a look at Dance Spirit's exclusive interview where they dish on everything from their favorite dates to the dance moves that give them all the feels.
Chantel Aguirre is a member of Shaping Sound, a newlywed, and a former Dance Spirit cover girl. And if you happen to follow her on Instagram (which you obviously do, right?), you know that the ballerina-turned-contemporary-dancer seems to permanently rock the dreamy, ethereal glow of a well-rested goddess. How does she take care of herself, even while touring the country in Shaping Sound's newest show, After the Curtain? "My overall goal every day is finding balance," Aguirre says. "I try to fuel myself with all things pure—in foods, in the people I surround myself with, and in my overall mindset." Here are 11 more ways Aguirre keeps her mind and body at peace on the road.