Team: Ohio State University Dance Team
Coach: Melissa McGhee
Choreography: Pom - Carsen Rowe, TRIBE 99; Jazz - Rudy Abreu
Location: Columbus, OH
Style: College Dance Team - Jazz & Pom
Ohio State Dance Team Dazzled at 2020 UDA Nationals
The Ohio State University Dance Team was a force this year, taking home 1st place in D1A Jazz and 2nd place in D1A Pom at UDA Nationals! We were so excited to have the opportunity to create both their custom pom uniforms, as well as their custom jazz costumes for the competition.
Color Changing Custom Pom Dress
The design for Ohio State's pom uniforms was a collaboration with the team and their choreographer, Carsen Rowe of TRIBE 99. "As a choreographer, I am highly involved in the design process with my teams to ensure that the costume really accentuates and brings the choreography to life," said Carsen on the design process.
One of the elements that brought TRIBE 99's choreography to life was a color change in the sleeves. "The sleeve-change idea came about because we wanted to bring another element of visuals to our pom routine outside of the choreography," said Carsen, "Knowing that we wanted to make the sleeve-change happen, we had to be smart about how to design the costume. Color layout was key. We had to make sure the sleeve-change colors worked with the white poms staying consistent and making sure no matter what the poms really pop off the costume!" The color change was achieved by pulling down a red gauntlet to reveal the grey sleeve beneath.
Given the complexity of the pom dress design and the tighter time frame, Coach Melissa and Team Captain Lexi even made the trip to our office in Minnesota! "Melissa was able to see the prototype in person, have her captain try it on, and make changes on the spot," said Emily, the designer on the project. "Plus they could try out the choreography and practice the transition."
Simple yet Striking Custom Jazz Unitard
Their Jazz routine called for a more simplistic design. "One of the things that our team is motivated by is trying to step outside of the typical dance team mold," said Coach Melissa. "When we went into the season, we wanted to push ourselves from a movement perspective and connected with choreographer, Rudy Abreu, to set this piece. He is a creative genius!" said Coach Melissa.
"The creativity and musicality from the song speaks for itself, so we knew we needed a simple yet unique costume to complement it." The result was a minimal yet striking black and white unitard with strappy details highlighting an open back.
Check out more from the Ohio State University Dance Team's Q&A with Coach Melissa and Choreographer Carsen Rowe, below!
What makes your team/group unique?
Coach Melissa: The Ohio State University Dance Team is a special group of people. We have dancers that have come from studio, all star, and high school dance teams that all come together with the common goal of representing the University and being the best we can be in our discipline. The team culture is very special. We work very, very hard but balance the hard days with plenty of laughs. The team has a fantastic sense of humor and genuinely enjoys being around each other … in fact, all of the team members voluntarily live together!
Carsen Rowe from TRIBE 99: Ohio State stands out because of their incredible athleticism they bring to all their routines. The speed they move as well as the elements and choreography that they execute in both pom and jazz is truly mind-blowing! This team continues to push the envelope and I am truly honored to be a part of this program that values originality and stays true to themselves. Outside of dance, the pride this team has for their university is incredible to see! They love the BUCKEYES and their eyes actually light up when they get to put on their pom costume each year with the BLOCK O! My favorite thing about this team is the gratitude they express to everyone who works with the program and their alumni!
What does teamwork mean to you? How do you rally your team?
Melissa: One of my favorite sayings is “it’s not about you!” and the team truly believes that. What is best for the team is paramount in all that we do and the dancers really understand what dancing for the person next to them means. Rallying the team for me is usually just about reminding them of their potential. They are so talented and have the desire to succeed so keeping their mind in the right headspace is very important.
What was your inspiration/concept and how was it incorporated into your costume, choreography and music?
Melissa: For Pom, we collaborated with our choreographer [TRIBE 99] who had an idea to incorporate a visual element to the costume. The Line Up was instrumental in delivering our costume for the routine and working with us to ensure that the idea would execute in production. Part of this process was a trip to the HQ in Minneapolis! Myself and our captain, Lexi Miehls, traveled to MN to try on the prototype and collaborate with The Line Up Team to get to the best overall end product. The trip was so exciting to be able to work in real time and make adjustments on the spot to get to our desired overall visual. The end product was amazing – we had an exploded logo on the back to correspond with the Ohio State elements throughout our routine!
Carsen: The sleeve-change idea came about because we wanted to bring another element of visuals to our pom routine outside of the choreography. We wanted to change the color of the sleeves in the routine, and actually use the different colors for added visual effects.
Knowing that we wanted to make the sleeve-change happen, we had to be smart about how to design the costume. Color layout was key. We had make sure the sleeve-change colors worked with the white poms staying consistent and making sure no matter what the poms really pop off the costume! We absolutely love how bold and clean the design ended up! It was a great balance of creativity and newness but still emphasized a strong traditional pom look.
Having The Line Up create this costume for us was truly magical! As a choreographer, I am highly involved in the design process with my teams to ensure that the costume really accentuates and brings the choreography to life. I love working with TLU because they are ALWAYS able to take the rough mock ups and create an absolutely incredible product with the original vision in mind. This double sleeve costume was challenging, but TLU tackled it fearlessly! We are all so incredibly grateful for them for bringing our vision to life!
Melissa: For Jazz, one of the things that our team is motivated by is trying to step outside of the typical dance team mold. When we went into the season, we wanted to push ourselves from a movement perspective and connected with choreographer, Rudy Abreu, to set this piece. He is a creative genius! He originally set this piece to be our Home Routine for UDA Camp, but it was so complex and we wanted to do it justice so we decided to save it for Nationals. The creativity and musicality from the music speaks for itself so we knew we needed a simple yet unique costume to compliment it. That’s where The Line Up came in. We had a couple of ideas and through our brainstorming session were able to get to a great place!
What is your favorite memory, or what are most excited for this upcoming season?
Melissa: I’m mostly happy for our seniors. We have five seniors this year and I am thrilled that they got to go out this way! To date, they are the winningest class in Ohio State history with four runner-up and four national championships!
What’s your team’s biggest challenge/opportunity this season?
Melissa: Injuries! We had a tough go on the injury front and up until the Tuesday we left for Nationals, we were adjusting formations and waiting to see if people were going to be able to perform. While you never want injuries to occur, it highlighted the grit and resilience that this team had. They were exceptionally flexible and showed up everyday ready to work!