Eagle dancers bust a move

March 26, 2013

By Joe Grove

For a young team, every advance in competition becomes a first, and so the Issaquah High School Dance Team celebrated its first win in district competition, to be followed by a trip to state at the Sun Dome in Yakima on March 23 in hopes of winning a trophy at state for the first time.

However, that trophy was not to be.

Team Captain Raché Strand said the team performs and competes in the hip-hop category. Hip-hop is a style of dancing that finds it roots in street dancing in the 1970s.

Contributed The Issaquah High School Dance Team poses March 2 at Eastlake High School with their Sea-King District 4A trophy in the hip-hop/military category before heading to Yakima for state competition March 23.

The Issaquah High School Dance Team poses March 2 at Eastlake High School with their Sea-King District 4A trophy in the hip-hop/military category before heading to Yakima for state competition March 23.

“Hip-hop is like thug or gangsta,” Strand said. “It is more like street dancing or like dance crew, lots of getting low and kind of aggressive dancing. We dance to popular music, like stuff you would hear on the radio for dancing party music.”

The dance competition includes other styles such as pom and military drill. In the district competition at Eastlake High School on March 2, the Issaquah Dance Team had to compete in the same category as the military, since there were not enough hip-hop teams for a separate category.

It placed first in hip-hop and second in the hip-hop and military combined category. At state, the team competed only against hip-hop teams and came in ninth out of 16 teams.

Melanie Krieger coaches the Issaquah team and has for the past four years. She works for a company called United Spirit Association. She danced hip-hop in high school and college, and she now instructs it and is certified to judge competition.

The team was three or four years old when she came to it. She co-coached for two years and has coached it alone for the past two years. Before she came, the team had had a different coach each year.

Strand and fellow dancer Holly Ellis credit Krieger with providing the spark to inspire the team to greater competition. Krieger, Strand and Ellis attribute their success this year to the fact that they listened to the advice given by the judges at competition and worked to overcome the deficiencies the judges pointed out.

When asked for an example of that advice, Ellis said, “They said things like we moved too quickly out of our formations, so we stayed in some of our formations longer. We made our facials bigger and made sure everyone was doing the same type of facial at the same points in the routine.”

Krieger said the judges noted that the team’s performance energy and facial energy needed to improve, and the team needed to keep the energy strong to the end.

“They took that advice and performed their routine at full capacity,” she said.

Ellis said district competition was “really fun. We prepared a lot for it, because this year, there were more hip-hop teams. Hip-hop has not been the biggest category, but it is starting to get bigger, so we really worked hard and pushed ourselves.”

“I’ve just been real happy with how hard the team has been working,” Krieger said. “They set their goals really high. They wanted to place at district and go to state.

“Their routine has evolved throughout the season. We added more difficulty, and they continue to challenge themselves as we go to different competitions,” she added. “They have always taken the feedback (of judges) professionally and handled it in a way that makes them better dancers and makes them better team members, and that is why we have progressed so much this season.”

Catherine Ellis, Holly’s mother, said, “The parent support is outstanding. The parents show up at the competitions. They met to organize special things for the girls at state.”

The girls have one routine that takes place in a darkened setting and requires the use of glow equipment.

“The dads took it upon themselves to order and organize all the glow equipment for the kids,” Catherine Ellis said.

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