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Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

the hoofprint

Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

the hoofprint

Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

Dance Team comes home with national title

Walnut places first in the small lyrical dance category at the annual Dance Team Union national competition.
Photo courtesy of Florrie Ku
Dance team emerges victorious, finishing 1st place and landing the trophy for the small lyrical dance category.

Dance Team spun their way to the top in the small lyrical dance category during the annual Dance Team Union national competition, hosted at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Fla. from Feb. 9-13.

Dances ranged from prop, where dancers donned astronaut costumes and mounted pogo sticks, to an Indiana Jones themed kick routine. The Walnut Dance Team was the only representative from California and competed against nearly 180 other schools from across the nation. Preparation before the competition was rigorous, with team members gathering for morning practices at 6:00 a.m. and after school rehearsals until 5:30 p.m. at least once a week.

“It’s been hard, especially with one of our [team members] being injured for the past month, but I think the win just shows that all of us put in a lot of effort into this,” sophomore Savannah Huang said. 

Focused competition rehearsals were balanced with team bonding and leisure during visits to Walt Disney World. From Feb. 9-11, team members would gather at 7 a.m. to warm up, check in and perform the dance routines for the competing genres into the evening. 

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“A lot of commitment is involved. We wake up early in the morning and we stay after school. It takes up a lot of our time, but we use it so we can improve. When we’re at nationals and have that feeling of ‘finally [I’ve] done something right,’ and all that work adds up to us winning, it feels so good,” freshman Riley Russo said. 

The competition was structured in a manner that the team hadn’t encountered before, with a preliminary round for every dance routine. Passing preliminary routines would either advance a team to the semifinals or go straight into finals. All of the Dance Team’s performances moved forward into finals, except for prop, which passed into the semifinal round before making it to finals. 

“I think it reflects on how hard we’ve worked and how much we put into it. Winning first just proves that we’ve worked so much harder, and I think we really deserve it,” junior Chloe Kwei said. 

Despite winning the first place title in small lyrical, competition between the other teams was tight. During the semifinal round, the team had a 0.7 point advantage over the second place team, but Walnut was able to beat them by one point during the finals. For the team, their final win came as a shock since the routine they lined up didn’t perform well at regional competitions. 

“[Winning] means a lot because we’re all really close and we’ve always wanted to continue the strength that we have. We’re really happy and it means a lot to me since I’m a senior, so this is what we’re going to be remembered by,” senior Kaitlyn Mak said.

The team said that they owe their success to both their mastery of technique and their deep connection. Their winning small lyrical routine, performed to Finn Ronsdorf’s “Ode To A Love Lost,” moved team members to tears as their coaches gave a heartfelt speech of encouragement prior to the competition. 

“It taught us to be in a more vulnerable state because all of us were crying when [our coach] was giving us that speech. We just really opened up to each other and we felt that emotion while we were dancing,” Huang said.  

The Dance Team is looking forward to participating at another state competition on Feb. 17 in Thousand Oaks, alongside the West Coast Elite Dance nationals hosted in Long Beach in March. 

“Sometimes [we] don’t always get the results [we] want in the competitions before nationals. [We] get scores and try to improve, and to have a really good score at nationals shows that all that work finally has a purpose,” Russo said. ”The bond between everybody is so fun, and you just want to be with the people the entire time. The team always includes everybody, and it’s amazing to just be around them.”

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Kaelin David
Kaelin David, Opinion editor
Hi! My name is Kaelin David and I am in the 12th grade, serving as the Opinion editor for The Hoofprint. In my free time, I love playing around with website design and reading literary magazines.
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