The Utah Tech University Blaze Dance team turned nationals into its own “golden hour” as they shared their golden moments with each other before their top-three placement.
The Blaze competed in nationals for the first time last year with one routine that led them to a second-place finish. This year, the tournament happened to be different in a few different aspects.
Zaylie Parkin, a senior elementary education major from West Jordan, competed for the last time at nationals, and it was a bittersweet moment for her.
“I just wanted to go have fun and soak in everything… my teammates, the smells, everything,” Parkin said. “It’s just such a unique experience that you do not get anywhere else.”
Parkin mentally prepares before the routines by being present with her team and going over the dances. Although the preparation was different for Parkin this year, the thought of never competing like this again was always a present in her mind.
Parkin said, “I don’t think I felt prepared just because I knew it was my last one, and I don’t know if I am prepared to give it up yet. I would say that this blew any other competition I have been to because of the feeling and the success we had; it was incredible.”
Brynlee Prince, a junior integrated studies major from South Jordan, said even though the team didn’t get as much preparation as some of the other teams, she felt the bond her and her teammates created was the reason they were so successful.
“I wanted to feel proud of all of our hard work,” Prince said. “It was really cool because even though we didn’t have as much time to prepare as other teams did, I felt so calm and prepared.”
One of the clips from the jazz routine was a special moment for two of the dancers. Julia Dall, a sophomore communication studies major from Mapleton, and Ruby Thorsen, a sophomore management major from Draper, shared a moment that became one of the biggest parts of the jazz routine. In the clip, Thorsen said “I love you” to Dall.
Addelyn Brotherson, a junior psychology major from Wales, was not able to perform due to a shoulder injury comma but was able to capture this moment as well as moments before the jazz routine.
The music to this dance is “Golden Hour” by JVKE. This song became stronger than just the music for a routine because of the moments the dancers shared before performing.
Brotherson said: “Before the girls were going on for the jazz routine–a very emotional and touchy-feely dance–the team huddled up, and we all just sat there and cried. We shared what our ‘Golden Hour’ was…what we are dancing for, and so many of the girls said ‘you guys are my golden hour. You are the ones that I love so much’.”
Brotherson said it was a special moment for her, and she will never forget how much love was shared.
Head coach Kori Esplin said she wanted the girls to connect together and trust themselves to be the confident young women she knows them as.
Before the girls perform, Esplin tells them, “If you think it and believe it, you can achieve it and make it happen.”
Esplin said the team achieved these goals and certainly connected with a strong bond for the second day of nationals.
Esplin said, “These girls are beautiful, inside and out. I just wanted to get their minds to believe what I believed and that totally happened. They finally realized their potential, realized they could change the world, and their hopes and dreams can come true if you have the heart and a willing mind.”
The team will finish out its season and perform the annual showcase March 10 in the Burns Arena as well as performing at the rest of the athletic events.