College dance teams from all over the United States competed at the Universal Dance Association (UDA) national competition on Jan. 12-14, 2024. This year, the UDA dance nationals crowned the new champions at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in the Disney World Resort, Orlando, Fla. At the competition, the college dance teams presented a maximum of two routines under three categories: jazz, pom and hip hop. Professional judges scored the routines to determine the new national champion for each category. For UDA to receive its renowned title as the most prestigious college competition in the country, there are many rules and qualifications to be followed. This makes the competition intense, as each team is the best of the best. 

At the 2024 UDA nationals, dance teams from all over America brought skill to the stage, and the internet took notice. All over social media platforms, the routines have been viewed and  admired; however, some debate has risen over which teams should have won each category. From Louisiana State University’s (LSU) Michael Jackson piece to Ohio State’s Frank Sinatra dance, the competition was heated. The debate over The Ohio State Dance Team and The University of Minnesota Dance team has struck many people’s attention on social media.

For the jazz category, The Ohio State Dance Team had a different take on the style than their components. While most college dance teams stuck to turns and tricks, Ohio used storytelling and emotion. Their piece was to “My Way” by Frank Sinatra, and they used their costume as a prop in the choreography. On social media platforms such as TikTok, this dance has gone viral, receiving millions of views. The performance has become very popular on social media, but also controversial. The emmy-winning choreographer of the piece, Travis Wall, had previous sexual assault allegations from fellow dancers. Some viewers argue that the use of Wall as a choreographer was unethical, while others argue the importance of separating the art from the artist.

“I think using Travis Wall [as the choreographer] was more the fault of the coach than the girls,” junior Brooklyn Crawford said. 

Minnesota brought to the stage a technical, intricate and fast jazz piece. To the song, “Dream On” by Aerosmith, the dancer’s self-choreographed a swift turn set into an aerial, directly into another turn set. Because of the intensity, difficulty and speed of this piece, Minnesota also went viral on social media platforms. The piece went head-to-head with Ohio’s jazz piece in the finals. 

“I loved them both, but I liked Ohio better than Minnesota,” junior Stella Matheson said. “I think Minnesota was more technical, but Ohio was better overall just because it was more entertaining, interesting, emotional and kept my attention more.”

Despite the controversy, The Ohio State Dance Team took first place in the jazz category. 

“The University of Minnesota’s jazz routine was absolutely beautiful. I understand why Ohio [State] won, but I felt that Minnesota’s dance flowed more musically,” dance teacher Adia Seckel said. “Ohio [State] was too visually stimulating for me. It was hard to decide what to look at.” 

At the end of the competition, UDA crowned Ohio State, Minnesota and LSU as national champions with Ohio winning jazz, Minnesota winning pom and LSU winning hip hop.