Jumping into competition season

Dance Ensemble competed Saturday, Feb. 1 at El Dorado High School.

Dance Ensemble took home trophies for all seven of its dances. It received five first-place titles for its kick, small contemporary, medium lyrical, large lyrical and large jazz dances. It also won two second-place titles for its prop and small lyrical dances.

“It felt rewarding because we practiced really hard and for a really long time. It pays off when you work hard and have a good work ethic,” senior Meleia Lontok said. “Even if you know you’re good, you have to work really hard and encourage the other members because even if you get the routine, you have to make sure everyone else gets the routine. Just because you have it down does not mean you are going to win.”

Starting at noon, dancers prepared for the competition by running through their seven routines: kick, prop, small contemporary, small lyrical, medium lyrical, large lyrical and large jazz.

“I feel really excited [when I perform onstage]. Sometimes, it can get a little nerve-wracking, but then I remember, if I just give it all I have now, then there is nothing I can be ashamed of,” freshman Alyssa Lopez said. “Even if it wasn’t the best, I tried my hardest, and I know I can be happy and settled with what I did.”

For this competition, Dance Ensemble had to adjust certain dances because of an injured dancer. Coach Audrey De Guzman shifted formations in some dances to fill in junior Camille Olegario’s empty gap. In other dances, alternates, which are dancers who practice with the main ensemble but do not perform unless a main dancer is unavailable, replaced Olegario’s position.

“Having one of our fellow dancers injured actually boosted our teamwork. She wants to dance and she doesn’t get to. So, when we were practicing and we got tired or we started feeling like we didn’t want to do this anymore, we realized that we should do it for her because she wants to dance but can’t,” senior Katherine Lee said.

Judges evaluated the dances based on three categories of criteria: execution, showmanship and routine. Each dance is then scored out of a total of 100 points.

“[The most important part of our teamwork is] how hard we are willing to work for each other. We all want to work hard, so we can make each other happy and win in competitions. Everyone’s bond is just really nice, and we all just have a good work ethic. We all really want it for each other,” junior Sarah Smith said.

Dance Ensemble will be participating in several more competitions at the state level.  At the national level, dancers will compete at the Contest of Champions National Dance Competition from Friday, Feb. 28 to Wednesday, March 4 in Florida. Last year, the team won four national titles for its kick, large jazz, medium lyrical and large lyrical dances. 

“This season, we have one of the best chances to do extremely well at Nationals because this year, we have stronger choreographed dances and a very talented team,” captain senior Denise Kao said. “Now that it’s coming down to only a couple of weeks left [until Nationals], we need to make sure we are not taking any practices for granted. As long as we continue working hard and pushing ourselves, this will be one of the best Nationals we have ever had.”

By Margaret Lee, Staff writer
Photo by Isaac Le