East dance team heads to sectionals
Several girls sat and watched as their team members practiced a jazz/funk routine in the Duluth East gym Tuesday night. The dancers on the floor spread out to turn, leap, dance and smile through it all as their coaches and teammates looked on. As...
Several girls sat and watched as their team members practiced a jazz/funk routine in the Duluth East gym Tuesday night.
The dancers on the floor spread out to turn, leap, dance and smile through it all as their coaches and teammates looked on.
As the dance team heads to Chisago Lakes to defend its 3AA sectional tournament jazz title Saturday, Feb. 12, the team's three captains say the watchers are just as important as the dancers.
"If you're dancing or not -- you're a big asset to the team," said team tri-captain Lynne Frederick.
Another captain, Jamie Somrock, agrees.
"They give us complements that we haven't thought of, and that our coaches haven't told us," she said.
The team's third captain, Bayley Westin, said the encouragement the dancers get from team members on the sidelines gives them energy.
And energy is something dance teams need, where injuries, long seasons and practices can be taxing.
The dance team has the longest season of any team. The team's year is split up into two seasons, a non-competitive one in fall and a competitive one in winter.
The girls begin practicing in June, take a two-week break between seasons in October and then begin working on choreography for competitions, said head coach Heidi Schmidt.
The entire team of 24 girls dances in all performances during the fall season but holds tryouts for the competitive performances, Schmidt said.
There are two types of dance involved in competition, jazz/funk and high kick precision, she said. Competitive dances have a four-minute limit and require 60 to 70 kicks throughout the performance.
The state competition happens in late February, and in late March or April the team has tryouts for the next year, Westin said.
"It's pretty much always there," she said of dance.
The team doesn't only have long seasons, it also practices four days a week for two hours, Schmidt said.
Being together so much can lead to arguments, Westin said, but the girls have to work together to do well.
"Dancing is just one of those sports where you have to work together or it falls apart," she said.
Working well together is especially important when presentation counts in competition, Somrock said.
"Smiling at each other and laughing helps in competition," she said, because you have to smile even if you're in pain or tired.
Both last year and this year the team faced a lot of injuries during the season, Westin said.
One girl even lost a shoe during sectional last year, Frederick said.
"A lot of bad things happened last year," she said. "All the kicks, bruises, hard work are worth it in the end."
Last year, the team's hard work did pay off. Not only did the team place first in jazz at sectionals, but it also made the state finals for the first time ever, Somrock said.
"(It was) amazing," she said. "Everyone was crying."
So as the team heads to sectional, the girls are hoping the trail will lead them to state next weekend, where the high kick competition will be Friday and the jazz competition Saturday, Feb. 19, at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
"We have a title to defend," Frederick said.
The coaches are hopeful about the team's chances and believe they have a shot at getting to state in both high kick and jazz, Schmidt said.
"We think the girls have made a lot of progress this year," she said. "We're really hopeful about this weekend. We think we'll have two excellent performances, and hopefully we'll be back at state."