The Grain Valley High School dance team, fresh off a successful regional competition in which they placed 1st in the mix competition and 3rd in the jazz competition, are headed to state competition on February 27th. While the state competition may be virtual this year, the preparation that goes into the event is just as intense.
Head coach Natalie Upton, in her third season as head coach, is impressed with the focus of the thirteen girls on the team.
After missing out on spring practices, summer camp, and some of the traditional performances on their annual schedules due to COVID-19, the team rallied and their hard work paid off at the recent regional competition.
“It was a really an awesome experience for us to bond as a team and have that in-person performance experience this year,” Upton said.
“They’ve actually been really awesome and flexible. They’ve just been very positive and made the best of a tough situation. I don’t know if we are all more focused or if the little break in the spring was what we needed, but we are much more prepared this year going into state competition than we have been in years past.”
In a normal year, the dance team performs at each football game and at least one basketball game a week in addition to their competition schedule. The team was able to perform at football games this year, and is now preparing full time for their state performance.
Team captains Abbey Neer, Reese Servi, Halle Harshman choregraphed one of the routines to be performed for the state competition. Each have been dancing for as long as they can remember, but performing virtually is new for all of them.
“It was the first time we gave the captains the opportunity to choreograph a routine, and they have done an amazing job with it. The visuals are really outstanding,” Upton said.
“Virtual competition is not as exciting without an audience to perform for, so we have to work together and build each other up to create that energy,” Servi said.
While the complications COVID-19 has brought on their school and dance team schedules, the members are focused on the positives.
“It’s allowed us to focus more on just our competition routines, because we are not going to basketball games and other events, we’ve been able to really focus in on our competition pieces,” Neer said.
Edith Cruz, a nationally recognized choreographer, came in to work with the team on their jazz routine, which will be the second piece they perform for state competition.
The team will record their performances next week in preparation for the virtual state competition on February 27th.