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Nationals Dance Competition Interview with Head Coach and Studio Owner, Kelly Else

After the whirl wind, high flying, incredibly impressive weekend away at the DX AmeriCup Nationals, the Iowa C.A.T.S. All Stars are busy unloading numerous trophies, special judges awards, and loads of excitement. Kelly Else, Dream Dance Company Studio owner and Iowa C.A.T.S head coach did us the honor of answering some questions about their most recent nationals experience.

How does the scoring work - Why do the dancers perform twice?

DX AmeriCup names National Champions based on your first scores in your designated divisions. Then they take the highest scoring teams and move them to Grand Finals. During Grand Finals your previous score is erased and you now compete against all different genres of dance. A Pom vs, Hip Hop vs. Jazz. The highest score wins Grand Champion of the weekend.

What is a bid?

Every Event Producer who is a member of the USASF (United States All Star Federation) has a certain number of bids they are allowed to give out to make their Worlds Team. There are Partial Paid Bids in which teams will receive over $3,500 towards the cost to attend Worlds. Then there are At Large Bids in which you are invited to compete at Worlds. It is extremely tough to receive a bid to Worlds. It truly is the best of the best.

Why do you take your teams to a nationals and how does it differ from local competitions?

The Nationals that the Iowa C.A.T.S. All Stars compete at are sanctioned by the USASF. The Iowa CATS are truly an All Star Dance Team. We mostly compete at Dance team competitions but will also attend local and regional studio competitions to enhance and make our dancers well rounded.

What are the elements that a champion team has? Technique? Costumes? Choreography? Spirt? What are the judges looking for in a winning team?

I tell my dancers at practice that the team that will be wearing the National Championship Jackets are the teams that stop every motion. Dance Teams are extremely clean when they perform seamlessly. The goal is that every dancer looks the exact same when they dance together. Every 8 count, formation, turn, jump, leap, everyone must be in synch. Technique also plays a major role. Proper ballet, jazz and pom technique is the difference between 1st and 5th place. Costumes and choreography add a lot to a routine as well.

How have the Iowa C.A.T.S. All Stars improved over the years at this competition?

We are in our 7th season and have grown so much through the years. This is the first year we have won 5 National Championships, 1 Grand Championship and 2 2nd Place Grand Championships along with receiving 3 bids to Worlds.

What are you the most proud of for your team this year?

How close my Junior and Senior teams are. They work extremely hard and are very close friends as well. At our last practice before Nationals we circled up and I asked them what they were most excited about for Nationals. The most common answer, was “Dancing with their best friends”.

Describe the ideal "dancer" that you would want for a team attending nationals.

Hardworking, gives 100% at every practice, positive attitude and follows our Iowa C.A.T.S. Motto: Confidence, Attitude and Trust will always = Success.

We wish all the dancers attending Worlds in April the best of success. What a well rounded team!

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