“Judging is so exciting because you get to see the final product of what some teams have been working and putting blood sweat and tears into for the past weeks or months. The creativity of some routines never ceases to amaze me. I get a lot of inspiration from judging and seeing new routines each year,” Danielle says.
The UDA is a national and international dance company that teaches summer camps to teams or groups whose members range in age from seven to college-age. UDA focuses on technique, new routines and material for squads’ upcoming performance year, and also offers spirited team building activities for them. The company annually sponsors a national competition at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., a pinnacle event for high school and collegiate dance teams.
Danielle says she especially enjoys the training weeks that precede UDA’s summer camps.
“In training, it gives you the opportunity to see some people you may not have seen in a year since your last camp since UDA instructors live all over the country. Meeting back up and reminiscing about past camp experiences is always a pleasure,” Danielle says.
She learned about the UDA in high school when her dance team invited an UDA instructor for a private camp.
“In college I started job searching and knew I wanted to work in the dance field. I researched an audition for the company and drove about two hours to go, and was fortunate enough to be offered the job,” Danielle says.
While traveling with the UDA, she has visited New York City.
“Dance thrives there. The people and atmosphere there bring me so much energy and inspiration. I’ve been saving up since graduation to move to the city. I plan on this dream becoming a reality by the fall … then I’ll have to find a new favorite travel destination,” Danielle says.
Danielle graduated with a Bachelor of Science in human environmental studies with an emphasis in family studies and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance from Southeast.
She is also a dance instructor.
“It’s so exciting to know you have made an impact no matter how big or small on the dancers you are teaching. I have endless notes that I’ve kept from the past five summers from kids and their thankfulness for teaching them. Knowing that I am a role model for someone else pushes me to be the best person that I can,” she said.
Danielle has been striving to accomplish her dreams, working four jobs simultaneously since graduating to live out her passion. She was in a performing dance company based out of St. Louis, a teacher at a local dance studio, a server and a judge for the UDA.
“At times it was more than difficult and I questioned if dancing was worth risking my sanity by having to work all these jobs just to make a living,” she said.
“At the end of the day, I know I ultimately made the right decisions for myself and have zero regrets … When you love something enough, there’s nothing that will stand in your way, not even time or circumstances. I believe it’s an insult to our ancestors and ourselves to not pursue a life that we’re absolutely in love with living. We all have the same ability to become successful, and sometimes I think the only thing holding us backs is ourselves,” Danielle says.
In addition to dancing, she enjoys other activities like soccer, which she played from age three until her senior year of high school. She also loves collecting coffee mugs and antiques. Outside of dancing and judging, she enjoys reading and relaxing outside, bicycle riding on trails, painting, choreographing, weight lifting, swimming, watching movies and visiting live shows or museums.
As a student, Danielle loved performing with the Southeast Sundancers on the football field, basketball court and at nationals, and with the Department of Theatre and Dance on the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall stage at Southeast’s River Campus.
“Some of the best times weren’t just only in those ‘end goals’ or final performance spaces, but in the rehearsals and practices that lead up to those special and unforgettable experiences. The journey of getting to know all the wonderful people as well as I did was hands down a great experience I wouldn’t trade a thing for,” Danielle says.
She said she selected Southeast because of its dance and family studies program as well as its competitive dance team. The University allowed her to participate in both the Department of Theatre and Dance and perform with Southeast’s dance team, the Sundancers.
Her major in family studies is a new field focusing on the environment that motivates a person’s behavior.
“Through this field I was able to work in several very different non-profit businesses, which is something I’ve always been so interested in and passionate about,” Danielle says.
Danielle advises Southeast students “to find that one special thing you’re most passionate about, and once you do, to never give up on that dream or goal. It’s never too late to discover a new passion or to take a stroll down a different path.
“I think we live in a society that is becoming more and more accustomed to instant gratification, so keep in mind that dreams do take some time to come true, and there may be a number of struggles that may make you question your dream before reaching your ultimate goal. It’s important to remember that life is about the journey not the end goal, and it’s easier to enjoy if we take a second to stop and be thankful for the process, even if we still have quite some way to go and barriers to cross.”