By Tristan Thackray
When the half time buzzer sounded Friday night, Ryerson fans were treated to something they’d usually only see at a Raptors game.
Performing for the first time this year at the women’s basketball game Friday, the Ryerson Rhythm Dance Pak put on a show that was co-ordinated, stylized, highly entertaining, and, some might say, sexy.
“I like the term sassy,” said Krista Burke, the fourth-year performance production student who is the club’s founder, manager, and choreographer.
Burke started the club four years ago when she realized there was no dance club that represented Ryerson.
The club has already placed in the top five in two competitions this year, and is trying to set the bar even higher. Roughly 20 to 30 girls audition every September for 13 spots on the team.
While anyone is free to audition, technical dance training is definitely a prerequisite, as the girls perform jazz and lyrical routines that are intricately choreographed.
The dance pack not only performs during Ryerson sporting events, but also competes in both studio and inter-university competitions across the province.
“This year we are hoping to really solidify ourselves in the top teams,” said Burke, who has made it a goal for her team to finish first in at least one competition.
While co-ordinating rehearsal time for 13 dancers is hard enough, financing the club’s needs has been the biggest hurdle they’ve faced so far.
Dance pack members have to pay a $100 club fee to the Recreation & Athletic Center for studio time every semester, and then another $250 for travel expenses and costumes.
Since the club doesn’t have varsity status, they receive no direct funding from Ryerson. “The school doesn’t give us any money, so we usually do fundraisers,” said Burke. “We sell $2 chocolate bars and we have a fundraiser pub night at the Ram [this] Saturday night.”
Despite that both the Ryerson Cheerleaders and the Ryerson Rhythm Dance Pak perform at the same events, the leaders of both clubs see their relationship as mutually beneficial.
“I think it’s great for both clubs in our goal of cheering and supporting our teams,” said Christina Basan, coach of the Ryerson cheerleaders.
“It gives Ryerson a greater presence at our games. We can feed off each other.” Burke shares her sentiments. “I think that since the cheerleaders are more well known, it makes us work harder to impress,” she said.
“We only wish we had as much exposure as they do.” Jean Kennedy, Ryerson’s Athletic Director, supports the idea of the dance pack taking on a larger role at Ryerson sporting events.
“It’s obvious that they need a floor, so they can’t perform at certain places, but they definitely can during volleyball and basketball games,” said Kennedy.
“We definitely want the community to see what we can do.”
While Burke admits that, “a lot of people don’t know we exist,” fans have been more than appreciative of what the club has to offer. “We always get good feedback, they even come up and talk to us after we perform. They’re always clapping, cheering. They really do enjoy it.”