AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – One local dance team is taking the world by storm with their high-stepping performing capabilities.
The iCandy Dance Team, better known as iCandy University, sits down with WJBF and talks about their journey to becoming national champions.
Miss Laura, can you please tell us about the iCandy Dance Team?
Yes. BIG iCandy University: Got to put emphasis on it! They started back, after separating from CSRA Band, with Miss Shardae [Smith, director and founder,] and just girls. So, we’ve been going at it since 2006: mentoring, getting girls into college, and everything. We just went to Miami Nationals with Dianna [Williams] – Buck Or Die – and won grand champion. Those girls worked so hard: day and night. They gave up their whole summer, and I’m just so proud of them. They work. They get their grades done, and they work hard in the lab.
Now, Kailyah, you are one of the captains of iCandy. How important is dance to you?
It’s very important. At first, I didn’t know anything about dance, and I would always watch Bring It. I used to just dance in the living room until I went to this one competition, and my mom asked me, “Which team do you want to dance for?” I picked iCandy. When I came to my first practice, it felt like home; it was like I already knew everybody. I love iCandy. This is my family.
TyAnnah, you’re a drill master. How important was it for you to win the competition?
It made me feel great because it gives us more opportunities to do bigger things around the world, and people are noticing us from farther on. It feels great that we won nationals with my sisters. It makes us feel amazing for how we have worked for everything that we have.
Now, I’ve watched Bring It. Laura, do you all train like Dianna does with the Dancing Dolls on the show? (Laughs)
I’m fitting in whenever they need me, but Miss Shardae, yes, she is definitely the drill master. We have a team. It’s not just one person. We do have a team. That’s why we have directors, and I’m just one of them. It takes a team. We have a wonderful staff, and they get together, they do choreography, they practice hard, and we just work until we get it. So, the hard work really, really paid off. Next thing that we have coming up is that since we won Grand Champion from Nationals, we’re going to Worlds DC on December 2nd. These girls have really been working hard. We just trying to show to CSRA what we are doing. We are also taking donations. These are single parents that are trying. We try hard. We give back to the community when we can, but they have a tight schedule as well. So, we try to give to the community, do stuff, do training, do free classes as well with our community as well, but we just ask for a little help because it does get hard. It does get expensive, but these girls are living their dreams. We’re trying to make sure they go to college, and it is also keeping them off the streets and out of trouble. These girls are on honor roll. They’re doing ROTC and other stuff as well. So, this is an amazing program. We have a beginner’s academy. We train from three years old all the way up to college. Even the girls that go to college, they come back, and they help out as well. So, we definitely have a good program, and Miss Shardae puts blood, sweat, and tears and all she had into this program. I’m just happy to be a part of it. I’m usually auntie, and these are my nieces, so I go hard for them. I mean, we lose sleep sometimes, but it is worth it. It is definitely worth seeing the smiles and all the hard work that they put in.
Speaking of hard work, ladies, how do you manage dance and school?
When I’m at school, I make sure I do my work at school. I know it’s homework, but I do my homework at school, and sometimes, we have time in between where they let you do your homework before practice and stuff. So, that’s how we manage it. It’s the same.
Miss Laura, have you seen a difference as far as the impact that you have had on the ladies as far as t hem being a part of the dance team?
Absolutely. I’ve definitely seen a difference when it comes to sisterhood and maturity. I can definitely see the growth. They really are staying out of trouble and just doing what they love to do. So, I definitely see an impact in all of them.
So, you also have a sorority line. Can you please tell us about that?
Yes. So, the girls have to work hard and do a certain amount of community service hours. Our coach, Coach Jas, just had a crossover line. We call them the sugar babies because they were sugarless. So, they had to do a certain amount and had to qualify, and they reached their goals. So, we are just so proud, and it taught them sisterhood and togetherness. They overcome their fears and everything. So, it’s definitely another incentive inside our program that we promote sisterhood with iCandy University.
Miss Laura, I know you said before we started recording that you had something else you wanted to mention. So, I’m going to let you have the floor.
Yes. We would like to give a special shout out to our past and present sponsors, but first and foremost we would like to give a special shout out to our directors and coaches: Director Mia Phillips, Director Natasha, Coach Jenn Jo, Coach Jasmine, Coach CeCe, Coach Bre, Team Nurse Tia Utley, and our Team Mom Darlene Robinson-Sneed.
We would also like to thank our sponsors: SOAR – Denzel Robinson, W.H. Mays Mortuary, Kinsey & Walton Funeral Home, 100 Black Men of Augusta, JyNelle Hardy, Eddie Bussey State Farm, Commissioner Jordan Johnson, Part Master LLC, Quick Print Painting, Ebony’s Flowers and Gifts, Walton Tax & Accounting Service, Costco – Augusta, Corvette Club, IKonz Bar and Grill, Augusta Motorcycle Club, Top Notch Liquor (Barton Chapel & Deans Bridge), Evans Kia, Jim Hudson Lexus, and Hybrid Karate.
We’re at a new location. We’re right off of Wylds Road. If you look us up on Facebook, iCandy University: our address is listed on there as well. We are accepting new girls. We’re always accepting, and we train. So, a lot of girls think they have to have talent to come. No, we train. Both of my daughters did not have a rhythm in the world. So, I definitely see the work and the impact that they do: the repetition and the training. So, don’t be afraid to come; they definitely train. Miss Tasha does the beginner’s academy; they take the time and have the patience.
And if anyone wants to follow your journey and learn more about you all, how can they do so?
So, they can follow us on our social media platforms. We’re on Facebook: iCandy University. We’re on Instagram: iCandy University. So, we are more than happy to take anybody that wants to come and join us this way.
To watch the in studio performance, view below: