Posted April 27, 2012
Since 2002, Idaho State University's Bengal Dancers have been placing in the top 10 in national competitions. This season, coach Kolissa Manchan's second year with the team, the dancers earned high marks at two national competitions this spring.
"We competed in both jazz and hip-hop," said Manchan of the team's involvement in the USA Collegiate Cheerleading and Dance Championships in Anaheim, Calif.
The dancers placed fifth in hip-hop and second in jazz. Later in the season, the dancers placed third in hip-hop and second in jazz at the National Cheerleaders Association/National Dance Alliance Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championship in Daytona Beach, Fla. There, the dancers won the Innovative Choreography award for their division and were the only team in their division to place in the top three with both routines.
"It makes such a difference when the dancers are all in sync and dance as one," she said. "They wanted to dance and they love to dance and you could see it whenever they danced."
In addition to competitions, the dancers also performed at all home football and both men's and womenss basketball games as well as "a volleyball game, soccer game and a couple of rugby games."
"The dancers have to deal with a very long season," Manchan said. "They start the year going to camp in mid-July and then practice before school starts…until our last competition in mid-April. You can imagine the toll it takes on them."
Though school spirit and competitions are important for the dancers, Manchan also focused on team-building and community outreach.
"This year I tried to not only work on school spirit and competition, I also wanted to work on the morale of the team and the relationship of the team and community," she said. "I am proud to say we volunteered at the Idaho Food Bank…and served lunch at the soup kitchen, along with donating Christmas stockings with presents in them for the kids at the Bannock House."
According to Manchan, the dancers perform this community service in addition to practices, performances and competitions, and maintain full-time credits while keeping up their grades. Despite this, Manchan said they only receive "a small scholarship."
"We welcome any financial support the community would like to contribute to help the dancers. We also want to thank all the businesses and community members that do help them with all their sponsorships," she said.
The Bengal Dancers will hold auditions Friday, April 27, and Manchan is excited for the future of the team.
"[I'm] very excited and eager to see what talent we have show up to the auditions. I hope to have a good amount of returning dancers so they can set the bar for my new freshmen coming in."
For questions regarding the team or sponsorship, email Manchan at firstname.lastname@example.org.