Standing in a gym with 40 girls, senior, Liz Rodgers, tried to look as put together for the judges as possible. This audition for Missouri State University was the deciding factor in where Rodgers would be attending college.
Rodgers has been dancing since she was two-and-a-half years old. Before sixth grade, she tried out three dance studios in Kansas, but Rodgers found her home at Jody Phillips Dance Company when she was in sixth grade.
“The teachers probably caused me to stay at Jody Phillips,” Rodgers said. “They were super welcoming and pushed me even within the first few classes to become a better dancer.”
About three years after Rodgers began dancing at Jody Phillips, she met Lexi Glover, the dance teacher who inspired her to dance in college.
“Glover went to LA and pretty much made it dancing,” Rodgers said. “Just the way she talks about it made me realize that she really loved it, and if you want to pursue it you can.”
Rodgers’ dream to dance in college led her to look at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, Avila University in Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas State University before deciding on Missouri State University.
“Originally I chose to look at [Missouri State University] because they’re fifth in the nation for jazz right now, and they have a really good dance team,” Rodgers said. “Then, after I made the dance team, it was official that I was going there.”
Before tryouts, Rodgers had to attend to clinics, one of these two weeks before and the other the Friday before the Saturday tryout. With the coach watching at all times, the girls participating in the clinic worked on jazz, hip hop and turns and leaps across the floor.
Rodgers was not scared away by the 50 strangers at the clinic that she went to alone. She came to her first day of tryouts on Saturday at 7:30 a.m. ready to learn her jazz combination. Before cuts were made, the girls performed the jazz combination in groups of two while the judges took notes on their performance and technique.
“I was feeling really nervous,” Rodgers said. “I didn’t know anybody, so it was even more nerve-racking because I couldn’ t talk to anyone about it. It was just scary, but I felt a lot better after the first round.”
The second day of tryouts followed, and the girls who made the cut came back and learned a hip hop combo and head springs, k kicks and stalls, all breakdancing tricks.. Later they performed the hip hop combo for the judges, along with the fight song, which they had learned at camp. They also did the jazz combo again with everyone and had a personal interview with the judges and coach.
There are eight new freshmen on the team and one new sophomore — 16 overall.
“I like the atmosphere of the team,” Rodgers said. “It will be really fun.