Dancers of Vail Holiday Bowl performance canceled |

Dancers of Vail Holiday Bowl performance canceled

Months-long project to rehearse and raise funds ends in disappointment for local dance team due to COVID-19 outbreak

Dancers of Vail team rehearses in San Diego before cancellation on Tuesday afternoon.
Samantha Tino/Courtesy Photo

On Dec. 26, the 30 members of the Dancers of Vail team boarded a flight to San Diego for the Holiday Bowl halftime performance that they had been practicing and fundraising for since this past summer. The team was slated to dance on a nationally televised program in front of thousands of fans in Petco Park on Tuesday, accompanied by a live marching band that was hundreds strong.

Unfortunately, just hours before the game was to take place, members of the UCLA football team tested positive for COVID-19, and the game was canceled, dashing the students’ plans to perform their routine at the halftime show.

The last-minute cancellation was a devastating blow to a months-long project that brought together dancers from across the valley and offered a unique opportunity to share the talent that Vail Valley has with a broader audience.

The Dancers of Vail are made up of students from three different local dance groups: More2Dance, the Vail Christian High School Dancers and the Eagle Valley High School Devil Dancers.

The team is made up of dancers from three different groups in the valley.
Samantha Tino/Courtesy Photo

Meredith Kirkman is the coach of the Vail Christian High School Dancers, and choreographed a five-minute routine with More2Dance choreographer Chloe Mayenknecht.

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“It was definitely a huge opportunity for highlighting and showcasing the Vail Valley and the dancers who reside here,” Kirkman said. “It was a positive thing to bring different communities of dancers together, because it didn’t really matter the different background or level of dance that they had. They all just had the common goal to learn this choreography and make it as clean and crisp as possible for a nationally-televised program over in San Diego.”

Kirkman herself tested positive for COVID-19 just one day before the team’s departure, and was already disappointed that she could not join them in San Diego. To have the full performance canceled due to the virus was then a devastating blow, for both the dancers and the coaches.

“It’s just so unfortunate that we went through all that work with fundraising and learning the choreography and drilling it and getting the costumes and sweatshirts, and flying all the way out there,” Kirkman said. “They were luckily able to still participate in the Holiday Bowl Parade, which happened in the morning, but by lunch they had canceled the game.”

The team had been fundraising for six months to raise the money necessary to travel and house all of the team members on the trip. They raised $11,000 from fundraising events, and additional funds from friends and family of the dancers.

Samantha Tino, the owner of More2Dance, was with the team in San Diego when the news came through. Instead of letting a perfected routine go to waste, she and the other coaches organized an impromptu performance for parents and family members at the ballroom in their hotel.

“We did our best to make lemonade out of lemons,” Tino said. “Are the dancers disappointed? Absolutely. Did they stand tall with resilience, grace and acceptance? Yes they did. I am beyond proud of all of the dancers for the grace they showed during this upsetting experience.”

The dancers performed their full halftime routine in the hotel ballroom for parents and a local TV station.
Samantha Tino/Courtesy Photo

The Dancers of Vail performed the full routine in the ballroom, wearing their official costumes and accompanied by a digital recording of the music. A local San Diego ABC news station covered the performance, and though it was not broadcast nationwide, the team represented the Vail Valley proudly within the limited circumstances available.

A recording of the performance is available for viewing on the Dancers of Vail Instagram page. The Dancers of Vail was formed specifically for this halftime performance, but with the success of the project over the past few months, there may be future opportunities to see them perform live locally.

“I think this was a really successful action that did bring these dance communities together, and I think that everyone as a collective would say the same thing,” Kirkman said. “I think there is a future for Dancers of Vail, because at the end of the day, I think coming together as a community is the most important part. We have to continue seeing those efforts throughout this pandemic, because it has been such an isolating time, especially for the youth here.”

To view the Dancers of Vail halftime performance, visit @dancersofvail on Instagram.

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