Owls dance to championship victory

The Rice University dance team won the 40th annual Showtime International Collegiate Division I-A championship March 17 at Moody Gardens on Galveston Island.

The 18-member team had to achieve scores of 90 or above from each of the three judges, who critiqued various aspects of the team’s two-minute performance, to win the Division 1-A title. The Owls scored 95-95-95, took home the title and the accompanying 6-foot trophy.

The team, which receives some funding from Rice Athletics and performs at Rice home football, basketball and women’s soccer games, is relatively new; until two and a half years ago, it was a student-run organization with only six dancers.

“My freshman year, dance was only a student club, and by second semester, it really disintegrated to the point that we didn’t perform at all because we didn’t have any leadership,” said dance team captain and Martel College senior Lilibeth Mata.

At about that time, former Houston Rockets Power Dancer and Jones Graduate School of Business executive education staff member Emily Reichenbach became the Rice Owls dance team coach and choreographer. Under the direction of Reichenbach, the team is more organized and practices twice a week.

“I’d like to continue with us participating in this event and to possibly build up our program and budget to compete in Florida in the years ahead,” Reichenbach said.

The team should be strong again next year, as they’re losing only two seniors and have 10 returning freshmen.

“I’m excited for the years to come,” Reichenbach said. “It’s been a huge growth effort since Lilibeth joined the team. We’ve come a long way in two years, but we have more to do to take our program to the next level.”

As part of its fundraising efforts, the dance team will perform its spring show April 6 and 7 in the Rice Recreation and Wellness Center. The team will perform routines that it’s done at Athletics events this year and the competition routine that won the Showtime title. Presale tickets will be available March 25 for $5 by emailing emily.p.reichenbach@rice.edu; tickets can also be purchased at the door for $7.

For more information, visit the team’s website at http://riceowlsdanceteam.weebly.com and follow them on Twitter @ricedanceteam.

About David Ruth

David Ruth is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.