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The Crimson Dance Team (CDT) is set to strut its stuff where no Harvard group has in the last 80 years—a New Year’s Day Bowl game.
CDT members recently confirmed that the team has been invited to perform during halftime in the Nokia Sugar Bowl, to be held Jan. 1 in the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.
The Sugar Bowl, one of the four Bowl Championship Series games, annually features matchups with potential national title implications and draws a live audience of over 70,000, with millions more watching on national television.
“My first reaction was disbelief,” said co-captain Joyce M. Demonteverde ’03. “But then that quickly turned into real excitement when I realized that this would be an incredible opportunity to showcase the team and to represent Harvard.”
The last time a Harvard group appeared in one of the prestigious New Year’s Day Bowls was in 1920, when the Crimson beat the Oregon Ducks 7-6 in the Rose Bowl to secure its seventh and last national championship.
In July, CDT received an e-mail inviting them to consider performing in the halftime show from Karen Frosch, the director and head choreographer of Dance Magic. Frosch informed the team that its strong performances at several dance clinics had caught her attention and was the deciding factor in extending the invitation.
CDT will join other dance teams from around the country in New Orleans on Dec. 28 and will rehearse for the three days leading up to the New Year’s Day event.
There was some doubt, though, if the team could afford the trip on its modest budget.
According to CDT Treasurer Rebecca K. Gomez ’04, her initial excitement about the invitation turned into concern.
“I have to admit that my second reaction was that the team would never be able to pay for 14 girls to fly out to New Orleans to perform,” she said.
Committed to making the trip a reality, Gomez and the team captains—Demonteverde and Natasha A. Kennedy-Paesler ’04—set out to find ways for additional funding.
Demonteverde contacted Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68 and met with him to brainstorm ways to pay for the trip. Lewis put Demonteverde in touch with an alum from Louisiana who made a contribution to the team.
Demonteverde described Lewis as a “long-time supporter of the Dance Team” and for his part, Lewis expressed his high regard of CDT.
“The Crimson Dance Team is one of Harvard’s hidden gems,” Lewis wrote in an e-mail. “We are so inured to excellence here that it sometimes hardly gets noticed.”
In addition to alum contributions, the CDT also benefitted from airline ticket discounts acquired through new member Elizabeth M. Renieris ’06, whose mother works for Continental Airlines.
Team members have expressed their excitement at not only performing in front of a national audience, but also at being able to bond as a team.
“This trip will bring us together as a team,” Kennedy-Paesler said. “Every year we keep improving and hopefully this trip will prepare us for our nationals experience.”
The Nokia Sugar Bowl will be televised on ABC at 7:30 p.m. on New Year’s Day.
—Staff writer Daniel E. Fernandez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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