Two-time national championship dance team from Utah State University Eastern may be small, but coach Brandi Johansen selected talented and hard working dancers to uphold the team’s reputation.
Dance captain is Madison Burrola, a fourth-year member from Price. Burrola has been dancing 19 years. She danced for Encore Dance Studio before coming to Eastern. Her favorite styles of dance are contemporary and jazz. She is most proud of being awarded the Judge’s Choice Award at a dance competition her senior year of high school and the Overall Talent Award at the Miss Carbon County Pageant.
One of Burrola’s favorite memories was making the team again after taking a year off due to an ACL tear. “I worked so hard to come back from my injury and hoped my hard work would pay off. I was at work when I got the email that I made it. I was so nervous that I had my coworker read it to me. I cried as she read it,” Burrola said. She chose Eastern because she would be able to stay in her home town and “wanted the opportunity to be coached by Brandi.”
Secretary is second-year member, Keeley Hartin. She has been dancing 17 years and her favorite styles of dance are lyrical and pom. Hartin is from Draper. She danced for Esteem Dance Studio and American Preparatory Academy’s Dance Company before coming to Eastern. One of Hartin’s greatest accomplishments is awarded the Overall High Point in the advanced category at her senior dance competition.
She was attracted to Eastern because she “just knew she wanted to dance for Brandi.” Hartin’s favorite memory is making the team her first year.
Hartin said, “At my high school, we weren’t allowed to have our phones. I knew we would be getting an email so I went to the bathroom, read the email, cried and called my mom. She checked me out of school to celebrate.”
Yna Evangelista is a first-year member. She is from West Jordan and danced four years. Before coming to Eastern, she danced for DATU Dance Studio and West Jordan High School’s Drill Team. Her favorite style of dance is contemporary. Evangelista was attracted to Eastern because “my drill team coaches [Shayla Winder and Demetria Campbell] danced at CEU. It inspired me to follow in their footsteps.”
Evangelista’s proudest moment was winning high gold at every solo competition her sophomore and junior years. Her favorite memory is camp week because she “was able to build friendships with each of the girls.” She is most excited to “experience all the games and grow together as a team so we can kick butt at nationals.”
Up next is first-year member Haylee Lamb who has danced 14 years. Her favorite styles of dances are contemporary and lyrical. She is from Riverton and danced for Hip Dance Company and Riverton High School’s Drill Team. Her proudest moment was being selected to compete at All-State Drill her senior year.
Lamb chose Eastern because she “always wanted to be on a college team and wanted to be coached by Brandi.” One of her favorite memories is “having a support team behind you to push you to get better.”
Trinady Lindsey is a first-year member from Kamas. She has been dancing 14 years and her favorite style of dance is jazz. She danced for Body Motion Dance Company and South Summit High School’s Drill Team before coming to Eastern. Her proudest moment was winning first place at a drill competition her senior year in both her jazz and lyrical solos. She also tied those solos for overall 3A.
Linsey’s favorite memory is “when I got both ariels on the same day.” She chose Eastern because it allows her to continue her dance career.
Lastly is Sydney Sandoval. She is a first-year member from Price. She has danced 15 years. Before coming to Eastern she was a member of Carbon High School’s Drill Team. Her favorite styles of dance are contemporary and hip-hop. She is most proud of being selected as the 2020 Southeast Region Dance Sterling Scholar.
Sandoval shared, “ I chose Eastern because I was inspired by many past members’ experiences. I not only wanted to further my education, but also my dancing ability at a collegiate level.”
Sandoval’s favorite memory was “feeling the overwhelming sense of pride that rushed through my body after finishing my last dance as a drill team member.” She is most excited to create new friendships while “being able to cheer on the Eagle community. I am looking forward to this new chapter of my life. I am hopeful that we are able to have concert and attend nationals.”
Johansen added, “This team has shown resiliency through the setbacks this pandemic has caused. We have been preparing exciting performances for the year. If we are unable to showcase our work, we are grateful that we have been able to do what we love in the studio. We refuse to lower our expectations for this year. We have just changed what [those expectations] look like. Although small, we have big things to prove.”
Follow their Instagram account @usueasterndanceteam for updates on performances.