Unity key to dance team’s success
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
Teamwork is essential to the success of any sports team, but for members of a dance line, that sense of unity and cooperation must be flawless.
Every kick, every twirl has to mesh perfectly with the person beside you. If one performer is out of place or out of sync, the whole dance can unravel.
Over the course of a season, dancers put in hundreds of hours to master routines that last only a matter of minutes; but when everything clicks into place, those few minutes can be magical.
The Superior High School dance team had its chance to shine Saturday at the Wisconsin Association Of Cheer/Pom Coaches state competition in La Crosse. The Spartan girls advanced to the state meet in both the jazz and kick categories, placing second in jazz at the regional competition and taking the regional title in kick. On Saturday, the Superior girls added another distinction to their impressive season: state runners-up.
“For a team that has only competed for four years, it is unbelievable to think that we could place second in the state,” said Casey Carlson, SHS dance coach.
The Spartan girls finished second of 11 teams in the kick category and took ninth of 15 in jazz. Superior’s second-place finish in kick was the highest ever for a Spartan dance squad. Superior has advanced to the state meet in each of the past three seasons.
“I’m so, so proud of everyone,” said senior captain Megan Berg. “We worked hard and pushed through.”
Berg and fellow senior captain Carly Connor have been members of the SHS dance team since it first began performing competitively four years ago. When they were admitted as freshmen, they broke the tradition of only allowing juniors and seniors on the dance line.
Since then, the SHS program has grown to become competitive with the best dance teams in Wisconsin.
“Four years ago we were just starting. We were very new,” Berg said. “No one knew who we were.”
At the start of this season, the Spartans were searching for their own identity. The Superior team was made up of two seniors, nine juniors, four sophomores and two freshman. Nearly half of the varsity dancers — seven of 16 girls — were new to the team this year. With so many new faces, the dancers worried about the team’s ability to come together as a group.
“It’s really hard at first because everyone comes from a difference studio and everyone dances differently,” Berg said.
“We have had some struggles this year with bonding the team together,” Carlson said. “It took sometime to make the team feel like, in their words, ‘a family.’”
The girls practiced five days a week, averaging two or three hours of practice a day. According to Carlson, the dancers meet whenever they can, sometimes at 9 p.m. other days at 6:30 a.m.
Between the early mornings and late nights, the Spartan girls found a way to come together and began routinely placing within the top three at competitions. Superior took second overall in the Lake Superior Conference meet, and Connor, Berg and Rachel Schimenek made the all-conference team with Monika Sziron as honorable mention.
“I’ve got 16 sisters now,” Berg said. “It was a great way to end my senior year.”
Connor said the Spartan girls were shocked when their names were called for second place at the state meet. First through third finishers earn medals, so the Spartans had set what they felt was a reasonable goal before the meet.
“We’ve always wanted to get a medal at state,” Connor said. “We were hoping for third, but then we got second.”
A ceremony to welcome back the dance team will be held Friday between the first and second half of Friday’s boys basketball game against Cloquet. The dance team will perform its second-place state routine and present its runner-up trophy to the school.
Members of the SHS dance team are: Berg, Connor, Catherine Albrecht, Alyson Franks, Kelsey Krob, Anessa Lawrence, Danielle Lundgren, Alyssa Maki, Lacey Olson, Savanna Paulson, Chaila Runions, Jessica Sajec, Schimenek, Lindsey Sommer, Sziron, Astrid Valley and Megan Malyuk.