Brought To You By NSU; Written by Leah Jackson
Makynli Delcambre of New Iberia is junior and a double major at Northwestern State University with plans to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in dance in May 2025 and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in December 2025.
Makynli, who has been dancing since age 5 and teaching dance since eighth grade, is current captain of Purple Pizzazz Pom Line, which is preparing for UDA (Universal Dance Association) national dance team competition, one of the biggest competitions in the world, in Orlando, Florida, in January. In addition to serving as a two-time Freshman Connector and involvement with the President’s Leadership Program, she is a member of Purple Jackets, Dance Organization of Students and Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority.
Having wrapped up the marathon that is the NSU Christmas Gala – nine shows over three days – before jumping into finals week, Makynli sat down with NSU to talk about dance, personal and professional growth and plans for the future. The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
NSU: Tell us about Gala prep.
Makynli: Gala prep starts in October. We have auditions the second or third week of fall semester. We go through all that rehearsal time. We have tech week where we do two runs almost every night. We check lighting, backdrops, make sure the show runs smoothly. We come up on the stage and do spacing. We have dress rehearsal. I was in Rockettes and toy soldiers, so it was lots of kicks. This year the soldiers did tap, so I did lots of tapping. It was a super fun time, but it really is a marathon and it’s a fun experience.
NSU: Who were your first dance students?
Makynli: I taught the babies, the three- and four years-olds. I taught all the way through high school, our select dancers, which is our competition team. I also taught tumbling at 16 and I was a cheerleader and a dancer my whole life, so I taught all through high school at my studio [Paige’s Dance and Cheer Studio] and then came to college. I currently teach at Elite Cheer-Nastics. I teach dance and tumbling. As the captain of pom line, I do a lot of teaching there. I run practices. I teach skills. I teach classes.
NSU: What are some leadership experiences you’ve had as an officer and now captain of the pom line?
Makynli: I do a lot of jobs, everything from paperwork to running practice to choreography sometimes. I do a plethora of things and some of the most fun opportunities have been leading the team at UDA camp in the summer. Camps are always so fun, we get so close. We spend so much time together. And through football season and basketball season, calling cheers and chants and being on the sidelines with everybody is a really great time.
NSU: What attracted you to Northwestern?
Makynli: I went to a college fair and the recruiter was on pom line at some point and she was telling me about how it’s a cheer team and a dance team, we do both, and that piqued my interest. From there I took a tour. I loved it. It’s a great environment and felt very friendly, like a family.
NSU: What are some memorable experiences you’ve had with pom and the dance program?
Makynli: There have been so many. I’ve gotten to travel a lot through pom line and the dance department. Last year, the dance department went to American College Dance Association at Sam Houston State University. It was one of the most fun dance conferences I’ve ever been to. I experienced so many new styles. I got to take a Latin dance class, partnering stuff. For pom line, I got to go to UDA Nationals, and perform on stage at Disneyworld at the ESPN Sports Center my freshman year. That was the first year pom line had ever gone to UDA anything, camp or nationals. I was one of seven that went.
NSU: How do your experiences impact your own teaching and mentoring?
Makynli: I have taught for a long time, but my time at NSU has taught me how to be a better mentor, a better leader and a better teacher. I’ve learned skills that I never would have gotten anywhere else. If you knew me as a freshman, I was a completely different person. I was shy, didn’t talk to too many people. Now you can’t get me to shut up.
NSU: It sounds like you have good time management skills, too.
Maklynli: That’s the key to life.
NSU: How is the team getting ready for UDA Nationals?
Maklynli: We have a ton of practices. We are going to be here for a lot of our Christmas break, practicing, preparing, getting ready, learning our choreography. We had a choreographer come in and teach it to us. We’re really excited. We have practices twice a day most days, in the mornings and the afternoons. We’re working on skills. We are fund raising and that’s a big part. We’re also trying to get everything together so we have a good trip.
NSU: What are some ways people can support the pom line?
Makynli: Some of the best ways are coming out to our events. We’ll have a showcase at a basketball game in January. Come to games and cheer us on. We have a ton of fund raisers going on. Look out for the Pom Line Instagram (nsulapomline), our teammates’ Instagram. We are trying to raise money.
NSU: What do you plan to do after graduation?
Makynli: I really want to do the Disney College Program. I decided to wait till after graduation because I love it here and I don’t want to leave early and have to come back or put a pause on college. I also eventually want to open a studio. I don’t know if it will be directly out of college, but eventually that’s my goal.
NSU: How would you encourage other dancers to attend Northwestern?
Makynli: Our Creative and Performing Arts program has given me so many opportunities. ADCA, which was one of the best trips of my life. I made so many connections. NSU is the only school in the state that offers a BFA in dance, so that drew me here. The faculty, staff, professors and coaches are amazing. They really take care of their students and the coaches of the performances group are big on giving the dancers opportunities and making sure their dancers are having a great experience.