Dance team adding some pep to sports events
Lindquist wanted to bring dancing to the school as a sport and have it recognized by the school last year. The timing could not have been better. The cheerleading team was disbanding due the lack of a coach, so the new dance team stepped in to provide encouragement and entertainment during football and basketball games.
“We haven’t replaced the cheerleaders,” said Lindquist.
However, many of the school’s former cheerleaders are now part of the dancing team.
Now in its second year, the team of 13 girls practices at the Eagle Dance Academy and is coached by academy owner Cheryl McQuaid.
“The plans are to improve the girls’ dance technique and create a strong team spirit so they will work together and help each other build up the team,” said McQuaid. “I want them to perform and behave in a way that inspires and encourages others to join the dance team.”
McQuaid also helps the girls do research on requirements for competitions, brings in special guest teachers once a month to help the team in areas that need improvement and has encouraged the team to participate in an upcoming summer dance camp.
Some members of the team have a great deal of dance experience and have helped their teammates with dance technique, choreography and competition experience. Before moving to Eagle, sophomore Marlis McChesney had made appearances at national dance competitions, and Lindquist has experience in ballet.
The girls’ experience and love of dancing has made getting on the team a test of skill and commitment. This year, 38 girls tried out for the team and only 13 made the final cut.
“We base our decisions on stage presence, technique, memorization skills,” said team captain Lindquist. “They have to learn a 30-second routine and then perform it for the judges.”
A panel of three adults helps the team decide who makes the team. The girls are even open to guys being on the team, although they can’t think of any with dance ability.
“We want the team to start competing next year,” said McChesney. “Right now we are lacking technical experience but we’re working on that so we can meet the requirements for next year.”
The girls come up with their own dances, looking to past routines, dance instruction videos, and their own imaginations for new routines.
The girls have also had to learn how to raise money for their team. With numerous other fund-raisers already on the school calendar, the dance team had to come up with something new. The team organizes one to two dance clinics as fund-raisers every year for elementary and middle school students. The small clinic in the fall costs $25 per student and the larger and more extensive spring clinic costs $55. The girls bring in guest dance teachers and even teach workshops of their own.
For the team’s annual spring clinic, which is held at a local hotel, clinic participants are given T-shirts, eat pizza and learn a short dance routine, which is videotaped so they can practice at home. The team also occasionally runs the concession stand for volleyball games. The money raised from the clinics and other fund-raising efforts helps pay for the team’s uniforms, special coaches, and in the future, dance competition fees.
The girls hope the team will eventually become a permanent part of the school and also hope some day they will be able to bring home a state championship of their own.
“Hopefully it lasts beyond the years we are here,” said McChesney.
The team will be performing during the upcoming basketball season. For more information about the Eagle Dance Academy call 328-6862.
This story first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.