Dance team prepares to take the stage in Disney

By J1 Reporter Chloe Samuelson 

Almost every year in February, Marian’s Varsity Dance Team competes in the UDA Dance national competition that takes place in Orlando, Florida.  Other high school dance teams from across Nebraska as well as teams from all around the country gather to show off all the hard work they have put in and narrow it down to a national champion. The team got a bid to nationals in the summer at UDA Dance Camp. Preparation for this competition takes place all year while the girls work long and hard to perfect their routines. 

Back in early August, the choreography process for Marian Dance Team began. The coaches, Chelsea Vorland and Kaitlin Ham, brought in a guest choreographer from out of state. The choreographer taught the team both a Pom routine and a jazz routine to perform at nationals. The routines took three days to learn and each day was filled with nonstop learning from morning until night. With the new routines, the team was eager to start cleaning them and knew they had a long six months ahead of them. Each practice is valuable and the team’s main goal was drilling these dances. 

In preparation to take the stage, the girls practice typically three times a week including a three-and-a-half hour practice on both Saturday and Sunday. They do not lack dedication and everyone on the team gives it their all in order to place well at nationals. Making sure that the team stays motivated is a major aspect of the process. After practices, the coaches and team captains continuously spread encouraging words and prepare things to practice and perfect before returning back to the next practice.

Photo by @juliannemariephotography— Alexis Reynolds and Lily Dencklau

Junior Alexis Reynolds says she encourages her team to keep pushing and another way to help is yelling out cleans while performing to make sure everyone has the right timing. They practice their routines in groups so they can give each other critiques on how to improve individually and the overall team as a whole. Something that they have to look forward to is their annual send-off dinner where they receive all of their gear for nationals and prepare for the fun atmosphere they will soon be encountering in Florida. With the competition quickly approaching, the girls begin to get excited. They have been performing their jazz and Pom routines at Marian half-time events and are starting to feel as if they are ready to take the big stage.

Junior Lily Dencklau, an alternate on the team, says, “We still have some last minute touches to work on but, I believe we are getting there because we have been working so hard. Whenever I can, I try to step in to help make the routine look cleaner. Even just being there to support and cheer on the team helps a lot.” The positivity from the team’s members will allow them to come together and show the country how their hard work has paid off. 

The actual competition will take place the week of Feb. 2-6. The team will miss Wednesday through Friday of the school week to attend this event. They compete by school size, so they will be in the Class A category. They are “hoping to make it to the semi-finals and showcase themselves to the best of their abilities,” Reynolds said. She also explains how not only is she excited for the competition itself, but she is also excited to be able to spend quality time with her team as well as watch other teams in the country perform, and also to attend the Disney Parks and spend a day there.

Marian’s hard work and dedication will not go unnoticed on the nationals stage this year. With Covid preventing them from going to the competition last year, this year they are hoping to come back bigger and better.  “We have worked so hard to get to this point and we are ready to take the stage!” Reynolds said. 

Graphic of Disney Castle by Chloe Samuelson

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