After months of not being able to perform, Belmont’s 629 Dance Team is back without missing a beat.
Bringing smooth moves and electric attitudes since 2016, the squad named after a Nashville area code is heating up the dance floor once again, now free of COVID-19 restrictions and bigger, better, faster and stronger than ever
“I think this year’s group of women is probably the best talent we’ve ever had,” 629 president Haley Wilder said.
As Belmont grows, the standards for membership are higher and ever before. More than 40 women tried out for a spot on the squad this past season, and the team added 20 excited new members to its ranks.
“It’s a nice outlet for expression. I love learning the dances and doing them, but I also want us to be really good,” freshman member Nikki Wildy said.
From here on out, the dancers’ competitive caliber will have to meet another level of excellence, 629 vice president Macy Dykes said.
One of the group’s main goals, however, is to create a nurturing dance outlet.
“A lot of us come from dance backgrounds where we had so much pressure on us to be perfect, and I made it a goal to make this a very healthy environment,” said Wilder.
The leaders of 629 want the ladies to fully enjoy the experience by focusing on their mutual love for dancing rather than pushing that passion away for perfection, Wilder said.
In an effort to do so, the captains try to incorporate different styles to accommodate members’ dance backgrounds. But when their sneakers are tied for a show, they give the audience what they want.
“For performance, we do hip-hop, because I think that tends to be a crowd favorite,” Dykes said.
Hyping up spectators at basketball halftime with their captivating choreography or giving it their all at Greek Sing, 629 brings the energy and intensity.
But the leaders still expect the members to take their craft seriously, as the spotlights can’t be taken for granted, Dykes said.
Transition has been the game of the game for 629 throughout the pandemic years. Going from regularly performing together to being unable to practice together in person, the squad is just now getting back on its feet.
Switching from Zoom gatherings to once-a-week studio sessions, improvement will come as many members continue finding ways to grow in their art, said Wilder.
Whether it’s by finding classes in the Nashville area or getting a group together in the FitRec, the squad is determined to progress this year.
“It’s time to put in the work so that I can feel the reward later,” Dykes said.
PHOTO: The 629 Dance Team put on a show at halftime during a women’s basketball game, Feb. 19, 2022. Jessica Mattsson / Belmont Vision.
This article was written by Camden Morris. Contributory writing by Jessica Mattsson.