The SCU Dance Team may look like all fun and games, but behind the scenes there is a lot of hard work. Captains Nicola Stone and Jessie Aulakh (both class of 2016) work hard to make the team’s performances look so effortless, while also running impressive lives outside of the team.
Haling from San Ramon, CA, Nicola is an economics major and a dance minor. She has been on the dance team all four years she’s been at SCU, with three seasons as a captain. She got into dance by doing ballet and tap when she was three years old. After a brief stint trying out other activities such as cheerleading, swimming, and karate, Nicola started competing with her studio’s company, and she never looked back. Although she mostly had studio experience, she wanted to try out for the dance team. “It’s a totally different experience then dancing in studios, but it’s so much fun,” she says.
Jessie, a computer science major and international business minor from Salt Lake City, has also been on the team for all four years. Jessie also started dancing when she was young and took a brief break to explore her other talents. She tried out horseback riding and soccer, but soon found her way into hip-hop dance classes. “That’s when I actually really decided that I love to dance,” she says, “because I wasn’t really into ballet and all that… but I always loved performing in front of people.” She then joined her high school dance team, so she knew when she came to SCU that she wanted to keep going.
Their roles as captains are vast; they are the liaisons between the team and their coach and the athletic department, they step up when their coach isn’t around to run the show, and they communicate with the team during the games. However, their most important role, they say, is working with the girls to create a welcoming, unified environment for all of the members of the team. Nicola explains, “Its important that it’s a good social environment, because if girls don’t feel comfortable around each other then they won’t work well together as a team.”
Their biggest team-bonding event of this season? Performing in the Super Bowl halftime show. They rehearsed for two weeks leading up to the game. The first week, there were three rehearsals that were four to six hours. The next week, rehearsals were everyday for six to eight hours.
“It was interesting how secretive you had to be,” said Jessie. “We couldn’t have our phones, so you’re just sitting there talking to each other,” which is why the girls got so close through the process.
The last few rehearsals were the coolest for them, though, because they got to practice with Coldplay, Beyoncé, and Bruno Mars. “Seeing them work with their choreographers and their cast” during the rehearsals was great for Nicola.
The team also held the flag during the National Anthem, so they got to see the opening ceremonies, as well. While they were standing on the field, Payton Manning touched Jessie, and Nicola got a high five from Lady Gaga (so #blessed).
As if that wasn’t enough, the team also performed at the Super Bowl City and parade in San Francisco and at the Celebrity Football Game on campus.
The next thing the team is looking forward to is the West Coast Conference Championship in Las Vegas, where they’ll cheer on both the men’s and women’s basketball teams.