Varsity dance conquers Nationals, represents team USA


Courtesy Photo/dance team

Stephanie Dugan, Staff Writer

The lights shine. The dancers take their starting positions – it’s the same as last year’s ending pose. It’s as though they never left the stage. Memories from last year’s Nationals are still in their minds. The music begins and they’re ready to give it their all on the dance floor.
After having qualified for Nationals 11 years in a row under the teaching and choreography of coach Rachelle Kiehle, the varsity dance team has a large group of supporters and even larger reputation. While the 2018 season was successful, it came with adversity.
“My proudest moment was probably being able to switch categories with having injured dancers and still being able to pull a double title,” senior varsity dance co-captain Maria Chodnicki said.
Starting with 18 dancers, which narrowed to 16 and then 15 due to injuries, the team’s jazz and hip-hop routines went from large group down to medium. Those injuries caused difficult formation changes, which required the team to make multiple versions of the same dance.
The team trains five days a week and attends LL Speed for Cross Fit to work out one day a week, which consists of running, lifting and other strength exercises. Their training stays similar and constant throughout the year to keep improving their endurance and strength.
“I always knew they could do it, but it was an amazing surprise. This is not an easy thing to do,” Kiehle said. “When I look at those banners hanging in the gym, I see years, days and hours of hard work.”
Not only did the team win double first places at Nationals, they were urged to apply for and ultimately won, the chance to represent team USA at the International Cheer Union World Championship. They are the first high school team to ever be chosen for this event.
“I am a firm believer it is not about the end result, but the journey along the way,” Kiehle said. “I never take for granted the moments spent with each member in or out of that gym.”