Northwestern dance team advances to state
This year's state routine was filmed in the school gymnasium and sent in virtually.
Fresh from a fourth-place finish at regional competition in Hudson, the Northwestern High School Dance Team took center stage in the school gymnasium in Maple on March 25. They glided across the floor as an iPhone held by coach Crystal Esselstrom recorded their movements.
On the gym floor, coach Anna Haskins watched the team leap and twirl, giving critiques after each performance to tighten up the next. For two days, they repeatedly ran through their jazz routine to a version of Lady Gaga’s “Applause.” It was more than a rehearsal — the team was recording their submission for state competition.
This is the second year the team has advanced to state competition, Haskins said, and the fact that they did so during the COVID-19 pandemic is a testament to their hard work and close connection.
“The girls have spent weeks practicing via Zoom and then finding themselves performing in person with little time together in person,” Haskins said. “But this group has been dancing together for so many years that they are able to adjust and feed off of each other. They have had to persevere through it all.”
After competing in person for regional competition March 20, the qualifying teams were given a 10-day window to submit a video of their state performance to the Wisconsin Association of Cheer/Pom Coaches. All videos had to be filmed in a single shot in the team’s home gymnasium from the bleachers above, Haskins said. The videos were due March 30, but winners won’t be announced until April 25.
The Northwestern team decided not to change their regional routine, but instead to perfect it.
“This is the best dance team Northwestern has ever seen talent-wise and they are also the most driven and hardworking,” Haskins said. “They are determined to do whatever it takes during COVID to ensure they maintain their positive spirit."
The team also placed fourth in the pom division at regionals, but only the top half of competitors in each category continue on to state. Three members of the dance team performed in solo categories by sending in video submissions, but the results have not yet been received.
This year’s team includes co-captains McKenzie Tuura and Lauryn Swanson, Laren Ketola, Lyvia Carlson, Ivy Helenius, Lauren Love, Mariah Satter and Annalee Brown. They have been practicing together since the first week of November.