You may have seen them on the sidelines of football games showing off their pom skills and pumping up the crowd, but KnightMoves, the UCF Dance Team, does much more than meets the eye.
The group also performs hip-hop routines, attends community events and competes on a national and world level.
Brittany Vasile, a senior advertisement-public relations major, is one of four seniors on the team, but only one of two seniors who have been on KnightMoves for all four years. She has been dancing since age 2. She said Spirit Splash is always her favorite event to perform with KnightMoves because it's one of the first largely populated events in front of the student body.
"[Students] also get to see us actually dance instead of just cheer on the sidelines," Vasile said.
In addition to on-campus events, KnightMoves represents UCF at a variety of events in the Orlando community, such as the Pigskin Prelude, Color Run, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure events, visiting elementary schools, reading to children and food packing.
Brianna Tucciarone, a sophomore elementary education major and two-year KnightMoves dancer, said that one of the most rewarding experiences is interacting with the Sparklers, a group of cheerleaders with special needs.
"We teach them our cheers, then we get to show their parents and play games with them," Tucciarone said about their day-long event with the Sparklers.
A typical week as a KnightMoves dancer consists of Monday and Wednesday early-morning workouts, in addition to Monday, Tuesday and Thursday night practices and sometimes several weekly sporting events, such as football, basketball and volleyball.
"It's definitely time consuming," Vasile said, "But at the same time, we've done so many really exciting things — experiences we would have never had, had we not been on the team."
Vasile said she's danced near Lil Wayne at Dwight Howard's All-Star Celebrity Game played at UCF back in 2011. She's performed at Orlando Magic games and has even been featured as the Sports Illustrated Cheerleader of the Week in August 2014.
Tucciarone said that while KnightMoves requires a lot of time commitments and dedication, it's a manageable schedule.
"Last year, I had a job, school and dance, and it really wasn't that bad," Tucciarone said.
Coach Linda Gooch said it's important for KnightMoves dancers to have an "entertainment aspect" that fans will enjoy, which is why interviews are included in tryouts.
"We get a lot of people and develop the talent," Gooch said. "We don't just manage it; we actually develop it."
Tryout weekend for those interested in joining next year's squad is held April 18 to April 19 in the Venue, with an optional Prep Clinic on Friday. The tryouts will include floor work, skills evaluations, interviews and three cuts before the new KnightMoves team of around 15 to 24 women is selected.
"We typically look for dancers who are outgoing, energetic, dedicated, professional, physically fit, have strong technique and are experienced in jazz, pom and hip-hop," said Brook Domenig, head dance coach for KnightMoves.
There's also a scholarship stipend for returning KnightMoves dancers from their second year and on.
"If someone thinks that they're interested, come to the tryout. Just come, because you know the worst thing in the world is regret, and I'm always sad when I hear people say, 'I came to the game that year and I thought I should have tried out,'" Gooch said. "Just go for it."
Required for tryouts:
Copy of acceptance letter or UCF student ID
Copy of front and back of medical insurance card
Completed and signed tryout registration form, medical waiver papers
Doctor's note showing proof of a physical in 2014 and clearance to participate
Lab results of a Sickle cell test
Paige Wilson is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @paigeshortstack or email her at PaigeW@CentralFloridaFuture.com.