MHS graduate competes in national dance competition

Jessica Stölen-Jacobson
Montevideo American-News

Abby Marquardt, a 2019 graduate of Montevideo High School recently completed competing in a dance competition with her team at the University of South Dakota for the Universal Dance Association’s College Nationals. Marquardt began her dance career at the age of just three years old at Puttin’ On The Ritz Studio in Montevideo and continued to dance there until moving on to the Gold Dusters varsity team her freshman year of high school. She continued to dance with the Gold Dusters until graduating and then joined the dance team at USD her freshman year in 2020 making 2021 her 17th year. “I wanted to continue dancing in college because I really was not ready to let that part of my life go yet,” Marquardt says. “ I wanted to continue to grow in my dance career and branch out into more types of dance and college athletics. This is my second year on the team and my first year with a leadership position!” Marquardt is the Social Media/Marketing head for the USD Coyotes dance team.

Each year the team competes in the Universal Dance Association (UDA) College Nationals, and this year the team decided to compete in two divisions - College Division One Gameday and College Division One Jazz. “We started practicing for this season and nationals in August of 2020,” Marquardt says. “We practiced every week two to four times a week, plus the addition of games and fundraising events that created a very hectic schedule. We were lucky enough to get a few Volleyball and Basketball games in despite the pandemic.” The UDA College Nationals are held in Disney World, Orlando, and the team originally planned to attend in person but were informed in late January that plans had changed and many of the teams were now competing virtually, including the Coyotes team. Due to the pandemic, there were also periods that the University of South Dakota was shut down with the rise in COVID cases, leading to virtual practices and meetings to keep the team on track with their routines as they prepared to compete. On April 23, the team completed filming for the competition, bringing their nine-month-long season to a close. “It all ended up being worth it,” Marquardt says. “Our team finished fifth in both divisions - a huge accomplishment for any team competing during such a tough year.” 

With the end of the season, Marquardt is also wrapping up her dance career, although she says she sees dance being a part of her future in some way or another in the future. “I don’t think that dance will ever fully leave my life,” Marquardt says. “Whether it’s coaching, teaching, or volunteering with studios - I don’t think I’ll ever be ready to let go of it, but I’m definitely really excited to be a student. There are many sacrifices you have to make when you’re involved in athletics - you don’t get to be at a lot of campus events or be involved in much else because your time is spent doing dance-related things, which of course I love.” Marquardt is a double major and minor honors student studying Political Science, Criminal Justice, Native American Studies. “I definitely want to get more involved in my major and the Vermillion Community, so we’ll see where I end up next season - you never know!” she says.

Of her dance career, Marquardt says, “The thing I’ve enjoyed the most is the people. I’ve met the most incredible people through my dance career and created so many friendships and connections that I will take with me throughout my whole life. There’s a really special relationship between the University of South Dakota Athletics and the Vermillion Community - it truly is so special.” 

For young dance team members dreaming of a career in dance through college, Marquardt’s words of advice are, “Remember why you started - there have been so many times where I’ve wanted to throw in the towel and not show up to a six a.m. practice or a lifting session, but I remembered that deep down the reason that I’m doing this is that it makes me happy. And also, find a support system - and this goes for any involvement in any activity whether it be athletics, the arts, or a hobby. Whether that is your family, friends, teachers, or teammates, find those people that want you to thrive because you will grow so much more when you’re surrounded by good people.”