UNG student starts dance team on Gainesville Campus

It was early fall semester when Justin Long, a freshman and lover of dance, walked through the halls of the University of North Georgia looking for the chance to grow his talent of dancing. He was surprised to find there weren’t many options on the Gainesville campus.

Coincidentally, Dr. Shannon Kispert began teaching biology at UNG at the same time and had a dance background. When Long recruited Kispert and Belkis Barrios, a Spanish professor, he had the two advisers he needed to create the first-ever dance team on UNG’s Gainesville campus.

Justin Long, center of second row, and his newly formed dance team (Photo by Selene Godina)

“I just wanted to start it because I love dancing and teaching people how to dance,” Long said.

The dance team held tryouts at the end of January after Long, Kispert and Barrios made the club official. After a week-long period of tryouts, 11 people made the team including four team captains chosen by Long.

“It’s always hard to start something new, so you have to give Justin a lot of credit, but he’s so excited about it,” Kispert said.

The team has practice every Tuesday and Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. and is usually held in the Robinson Ballroom in the Student Center. Tuesday practices are open to all students.

“Anybody can do it that wants to,” Kispert said.

Most dance team members are experienced, but there are some beginners as well.

“Ngoc [Warnock] has experience in jazz. Fernanda [Lopez] has experience in ballet. Dany [Lee] has experience with hip-hop dancing. A lot of them actually have had experience, and then just a few of them are beginners who love to dance and are trying it out,” Long said.

Collectively, the dance team practices dances for pop music, but also practice other forms such as African dance.

The team is planning to debut their talent at the end of the semester with a performance titled the Spring Fling Showcase. The team wants to focus on one main performance this semester and become more involved in competitions later on.

“I think that’s a really great start,” Kispert said. “The more established it gets, you can start to focus on competition, outreach, and where you can go with it.”

Long said he is most excited to see each team member’s personal progress as a dancer.

“I’m looking forward to the performances and getting [the dance team] out there. I want to see how much they learn and how much they grow,” Long said.

Similarly, Kispert is optimistic about the growth of the club.

“I think [Justin’s] going to attract a lot of people to the club, and it’s going to be really successful,” Kispert said.

The Spring Fling Showcase will be held on May 3.

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