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Meet ASU Dancing Devils' seniors and the road to their final dances

Sophia Spagnoli and Stephanie Castrignano have both grown as leaders and dancers in their four years with the club dance team

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The Dancing Devils at ASU rehearsing their Oktoberfest pom routine on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022, in Tempe. The team has not performed at Oktoberfest since 2019.

ASU senior and Dancing Devils president Sophia Spagnoli was 8 years old when she realized ditching track and field and softball in favor of dance was the move for her.

"I did like sports for a little bit, but there was something about dance that I always really enjoyed," said Spagnoli, who is majoring in business law. 

Since then, she has immersed herself in the art, becoming a bonafide leader within the ASU dance community. 

Dancing Devils is an entirely student-run dance club that performs and practices jazz, pom and contemporary styles.

The Dancing Devils will perform and volunteer at Tempe Town Lake's Four Peak Oktoberfest from Oct. 7-9. On March 8, 2023, the Dancing Devils are slated for a performance at the Phoenix Suns vs. Oklahoma City Thunder game. These will be two of their most notable performances of the academic year. 

The Dancing Devils have performed at several diverse events in the past, such as Arizona Diamondback games, Pride events and even as a flash mob for a wedding.

A team favorite is an annual trip to Disney World, where they perform on Disney Imagination Campus's stage. A Disney park isn't a bad place to build team camaraderie, either. 

Spagnoli and her teammate Stephanie Castrignano are the only two seniors on this year's team. Both are in their fourth and final year with the team. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dancing Devils were unable to practice and perform together for a year. 

Castrignano, a communication major, said losing that time was devastating, but since returning from the coronavirus hiatus, the squad had their passions reignited. She remembers when the pandemic limited team meetings to Zoom and the team would be left in tears.

"As soon as we were allowed to go into studios with masks, we were in there dancing because we loved it," Castrignano said.  

The Dancing Devils team has been Castrignano's "rock" through her college experience.

Castrignano is a dancer with the club and formerly was the Dancing Devils' fitness and conditioning administrator, where she oversaw the squad's cardio and orchestrate the team workouts and warmups before practice.

"It's amazing, being in college, and I don't have to give it up," Castrignano said about dancing while attending school. Dancing is essential to Castrignano because, for her, it's how she connects with herself without using words.

Spagnoli and Castrignano have been significant forces within the Dancing Devils' team.

Spagnoli is responsible for choreographing some of the Devils' dances, a rigorous process that she likens to an "essay." Since the dancers come from various styles and backgrounds, she allows them to choreograph routines if they are interested.

Spagnoli's high school in San Francisco, St. Ignatius College Prepatory, didn't have cheerleaders. She took it upon herself to take on the bulk of those duties through her dance team which performed cheerleading duties for the school's sports teams.

Once she graduated from high school, Spagnoli wanted to continue dancing on a smaller scale. She found ASU's Dancing Devils club and unintentionally climbed the leadership ranks.

"Starting off, I didn't expect myself to want to be a leader. I just wanted to have something to do besides going to school and hanging out with friends while in college," Spagnoli said. "I saw how dedicated the prior president was to the Dancing Devils, and it made me think about everything that goes into our performances."

Spagnoli and Castragano's impact on younger student dancers is undeniable and will be soon felt once they walk across the graduation stage. 

"I feel very sad because I grew very close to them. They're both going to do very big things after the team," sophomore political science major and dancer Sarah Vielbig said. "They've always been a very vital part of the team."

The Dancing Devils didn't lose any of their momenta despite having a year taken away. During their fall 2022 tryouts, they had one of their most considerable turnout rates with 60 hopefuls.

Spagnoli said exposure is vital to the club's growth, and social media has been the driver of that impact. Spagnoli was in charge of social media duties until recently, managing Dancing Devils on Instagram, YouTube and Linktree.

Volunteering is also essential to the Dancing Devils, even if it's something as simple as passing out water bottles at races or toiletry bags for those experiencing homelessness. They strive to ensure their community views them as more than just dancers. 

"It's important to us because we want organizations throughout the local area to understand that we are not just a dance team," Spagnoli said. "We're here to help our community in any way we can."

Edited by Kathryn Field, Wyatt Myskow and Kristen Apolline Castillo.

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