The competitive dance world: An interview with QCDT

The competitive dance world is hardly accessible to the average student, but our own Queen’s Competitive Dance Team (QCDT) is nothing like the Hollywood movies with over-the-top girl drama and combative attitude.

I sat down with this year’s co-captains, Calyssa Hoy, ArtSci ’14 and ConEd ’15, and Rachael Mather, Comm ’14, to learn about the impact of dance on their university experience.

Though these girls have a combined 28 years of dance experience under their belt, they exude a natural friendliness and proved to be humble and down to earth. For these girls, dance is a form of expression that moves beyond what you see on stage.

How has keeping dance with you in university impacted your experience at Queen’s?

Hoy: Obviously school is about academics, but it’s so much more than that. Through dance, I’ve made my best friends and it’s not just exercise, but a great way to de-stress and let go of things that are bothering you.

Mather: Yeah, it’s definitely one of the biggest de-stressers. I know there were so many times when I had a really rough day then I’d go to dance and I would leave so happy … the dance community at Queen’s is so amazing.

How do you find a balance between dancing competitively and recreationally or for fun?

Hoy: Well I think a lot of the girls who do join the QCDT did come out of dance in high school and so they’re very used to dancing 25 hours a week. And that would be your life basically outside of school. I think a lot of the girls transfer that same type of attitude to the team and as much as it is fun, I know as a team we do have a drive to win and be the best that we can be.

Mather: I take Queen’s Dance Club (QDC) classes to have fun, let go, do an amazing contemporary piece and just get lost in the music. A lot of the dancers on QCDT also teach in QDC or take classes.

What type of vision do you have for your team this year?

Mather: Team dynamics - we really want to make sure to balance the stress of being on a competitive team and make sure that we’re connected and supportive. There was really good competition from all the other schools [at the two annual competitions in March] so we definitely want to up our game and we want to change the way we choreograph. We’re trying to work and see what’s the best way to make the most cohesive piece – like a really good piece of art.

Are there any particular goals you work towards to prepare your team for the annual competitions in March?

Hoy: In the fall we perform at some home basketball games so that’s our focus right now, and we want to incorporate training within that [time] so we practice three days a week. We’ve been doing the same thing every year, so this year we’re trying to focus on technique and training.

Mather: We also encourage everyone to do QDC if they have the time.

What was one thing you were proud of experiencing or achieving?

Hoy: The dancers on the team are so wonderful; everyone is technically strong and beautiful and they're great performers. So, seeing [the] dance team dance my choreography to basically what I picture, it’s an amazing thing to see happen.

Mather: Unless you go to a dance high school and you were in an arts program, you never really get a chance to choreograph. So, when I came to Queen’s, I got that opportunity to develop myself more not just as a dancer, but as a choreographer.

So everyone, including new members, is given the opportunity to choreograph?

Hoy: If anyone wants to and if they have a strong vision then they can choreograph. .. We’ve been out of the competitive world for much longer than they have so they have closer insight into what’s happening right now. .. So we respect [a new member] them as much as [I would respect] a senior on the team.

Mather: When they [new members] come to our team, they realize it’s not this hierarchy. .. We have a respect for their talent and their knowledge.

What plans do you have for involving yourself in the Queen’s or Kingston community?

Hoy: We’re going to continue doing drop-in classes at Queen’s, but we’re also going to try and branch out to studios in Kingston.

QDCT will be performing at home basketball games as well as competing at two competitions: Terpsichore in Guelph and Strive in Brantford.

To learn more about QCDT, please visit:

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.