YSBnow chatted with team captain Jessica Shaffer, who spilled all on their winning routine!
“Defending our first place title in the 4-year collegiate dance category in both jazz and hip hop at USA Nationals for a second year in a row,” a post on the official Facebook page for the San Diego State University Dance Team read on March 21st.
The team of talented girls were hard at work preparing for nationals this year, and clearly, all of that dedicated time in rehearsals paid off, as the girls left the competition as victors.
And even though we’re stoked they were winners, that’s not the entire reason why we’re obsessed with their squad — just wait until you hear the meaning behind their super inspiring jazz routine.
YSBnow’s dance expert Desiree caught up with SDSU dance captain and third-year member, Jessica Shaffer, 21, from Oceanside, California, who gave us the full rundown. Read our exclusive interview below!
YSBnow: The entire YSBnow team LOVES the message behind your jazz routine. Can you tell our readers why you chose the song? Who came up with the cool idea?
Jessica: Our jazz routine this year was based off of the Always Superbowl Commercial “Run Like a Girl.” Our assistant coach, Kaitlin, had seen the commercial, and thought [it would be cool] to make it into a dance. She found the Vitamin String Quartet version of “Dare You to Move” and we overlaid our voices, as well as some others, over the music to create the final product. It was so much fun being able to record our own voices! Being able to hear my teammates while I was dancing brought a whole new level of emotion to my performance.
YSBnow: I didn’t realize those were your own voices on the track, that is so neat! In the beginning of the song, an important question is asked: “What does it mean to run like a girl?” How would your squad, as whole, answer that?
Jessica: Running “like a girl” to us means being strong, independent and never allowing someone to tell us we’re incapable. We believe that being a girl isn’t a disadvantage, but a privilege. Running like a “girl” to us is “running as fast as you can.”
YSBnow: Love that! So once you locked down the song, how long did it take you to learn the choreography?
Jessica: It took about four months to put the routine together. Even after we competed it [for the first time] in January at UDA Nationals in Florida, we continued to make a few changes before competing it again in late March. The routine was choreographed by Stacy Paydo with the help of our coaches and our captains.
YSBnow: Oh, wow! In another post on your FB page, the team explains it was your goal to be an inspiration to all girls — why is that so important to your squad?
Jessica: Our goal was to inspire girls the same way the commercial had inspired us. It was important to us that we conveyed this message in the hopes that whoever had seen our routine felt empowered and honored to be a girl. We hope that since our video has gone viral on Facebook that people continue to follow our team and witness all of the things we accomplish in the future. We want girls to truly believe they are capable of anything they set their minds to!
YSBnow: You girls are obviously STUNNING all glammed up and killing it on that dance floor, but when do YOU feel most beautiful?
Jessica: I feel most beautiful when I’m on stage, because that’s when I’m the happiest. Dancing is my passion and there’s no better feeling than sharing the dance floor with the people I love most doing what I love most!
YSBnow: That’s an adorable answer! Now, we have a lot of aspiring dancers who come to our site. What advice do you have for our girls who might be interested in joining a dance team one day?
Jessica: The best advice I could give for someone aspiring to be on a Dance Team is practice! I’ve been dancing for 18 years and I still believe that with practice, I can improve immensely. There is always room for improvement! Never give up!
YSBnow: When you make it onto a college dance squad, you also are required to attend rehearsals in addition to the normal routine of going to classes, doing homework, etc. What’s it like gearing up for a competition as big as this one?!
Jessica: Balancing school work, dance team, as well as other college normalcies isn’t easy. We are always told to use our rehearsals as a getaway from our everyday stresses and to live in the present. We always have a practice plan for every rehearsal and aren’t finished until everything is checked off the list. This helps us have a productive practice and what has lead us to great successes this season!
YSBnow: Lastly, dancers wear a lot of makeup while performing. What are 3 products always in your beauty bag?
Jessica: I always carry Volumizing Maybelline mascara in my bag, along with 105 Ardell eyelashes so that my eyes are more noticeable on stage or on the field. I also always have red lipstick! I carry many different brands, from drugstore brands to [a little higher end, like] Sephora. I also always carry Milani Rose Powder blush that you can buy from any Target, just in case I need any last minute touch ups!
YSBnow: Thanks so much, Jessica, and congrats!
[Photos c/o SDSU Dance Team]