Antoinette DelGiudice is a junior at the University of Illinois. She has been dancing since the age of three at Willow Street Dance Theatre. DelGiudice began their competitive dance team when she was nine years old and competed through her senior year of high school. The studio became her second home where she learned all types of dance: Tap, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Modern, Contemporary, Lyrical, Ballet, Pointe. As DelGiudice entered high school, she additionally became involved in Carl Sandburg’s varsity dance team as a freshman, as well as the orchesis dance troupe. After graduating high school she auditioned for the Illinettes and she can't imagine college without it.
How did you first get into dance when you were young?
I started dancing at a very early age. My mom put me in dance as she saw my cousins enjoying the classes they were taking. She first put my older sister in classes, and I naturally followed. Throughout my childhood I was involved in other activities such as orchestra, and softball, however dance was the one constant activity that has stuck with me for the past seventeen years.
What would you say to a girl that loves dance but is thinking about quitting because she has been told that dancing isn't a "real" sport?
I would tell this individual to sit back and think about all of the time and dedication us dancers must put in to achieve our desired goals.
Although dance does not involve a ball or an object that puts the sport into action, dancing requires the same training, dedication, and agility that all other sports expect.
I would tell them to be proud of their dedication to an activity that could be considered an art AND a sport.
What is a typical game day like on the Illinettes Dance Team?
We dance at home football games and basketball games. For football season, depending on the time of kickoff, we actually show up to Memorial Stadium hours before the start of the game. We are affiliated with the Marching Illini, the official marching band of the University of Illinois, so we arrive with full hair and makeup ready to practice with the band prior to our game day events. After practice we have a pep rally called Grange Grove where tailgaters gather around in front of Memorial Stadium. We dance to school songs, and welcome the football team as we make a walkway for them to enter the stadium.
Our next activity is our parade. We lead the marching band in a game day parade from a building called the Armory, to the stadium. Our route is known by Fighting Illini fans, and they gather on the streets to watch the parade. During the football game, we perform three times on the field. We are a part of the marching band’s pregame and halftime performance, and our dance feature is in the end zone during the first time out of the third quarter. Aside from these performances we are constantly dancing on the sidelines!
A basketball game day is a little different. Unfortunately only sixteen teammates can be in each basketball game. Seeing that we have twenty-eight members on our team, we are split into an orange and a blue team to break off the games because there are so many of them. Once the Big 10 season approaches, we then tryout for our spot in each game. We stand court side during the game and do sidelines center court during specific timeouts. Our routine for basketball season is always featured in the fourth timeout of the first half. Basketball game day’s are my personal favorite because our features are the center of attention. It is more unlikely that people will direct their attention to the end zone during football, verses having the entire court for basketball.
What is the team dynamic like on your dance team?
Our team is very diverse. We have a variety of different ages, races, and social groups! Our team consists of four seniors, seven juniors, six sophomores and eleven freshmen. Most of our girls are involved in other clubs aside from Illinettes! About half of us are involved in greek life, but all of the sororities we are involved in are different. We have a very unique relationship. Our team is actually run by two seniors that are elected to be the captains. These captains act as our coach, and although it does not seem effective, the Illinettes have not had a coach for years and the overall success of the team is great!
Have you ever been judged on your appearance rather than your ability?
I am a small person at 5 foot and 1 inch. During my dancing career upon initial exposure to my height, people have underestimated my abilities. Nonetheless, I never considered my height as a disadvantage nor let it stop me from striving towards my goals. I let my strengths and dance abilities speak for themselves and proved any doubters wrong.
When it comes to being a female athlete, what does "Make a Pointe" mean to you?
“Make a Pointe” to me means proving that you can and will achieve the goals you set for yourself.
This means striving each day for improvement, and allowing any criticisms to be constructive. Once reaching that goal I am most importantly proving to myself that my dreams are achievable, as well as the others around me that or may not have supported me every step of the way.