Dance team leaps into worlds competition

The varsity dance team was invited to International cheer union World Championships to compete


Courtesy photo/Maria Chodnicki

Representing the U.S. the varsity dance team display their silver medals for jazz. They are the first high school team in the history of America to compete at an international competition.

Lara Ilham, Staff Writer

Countries:110. Nations: 90. Average competitor age: 28. The varsity dance team walks on stage to represent the country as thousands of people chant “U.S.A.”
“My goal was honestly just for all of us to go down there and have no regrets when we left the stage and know that we did everything we could. Just being that far is an accomplishment itself, so we didn’t know what to expect; but we were just really hoping that we did the best that we could and that we know we did everything that we possibly could,” senior captain Maria Chodnicki said.
From competing at Nationals to performing as team U.S.A. at the International Cheer Union World Championships, the varsity dance team is the first high school team to represent the U.S. at Worlds. The international competition took place in Orlando, Fla. from April 25-27.
“We were honestly in shock, because it was just so new for us and we weren’t expecting it at all. We were super excited that they thought of us so highly and that they thought we could represent the country as the first high school team ever as for this opportunity,” Chodnicki said.
The team prepared for this once in a lifetime opportunity by extending their season until the end of April, when it normally ends in February. Another change included adding three more people to meet the requirements for number of dancers in each routine, which also resulted in reworking parts of their dances. In order to attend the event, the team had to overcome another challenge — cost. Fundraising efforts included a pasta dinner, community donations and sponsors, all of which contributed towards the dance team’s international competition journey.
After over two months of preparation specifically for World’s, the team returned home with a silver in jazz and bronze in hip-hop. “All the other teams, they’re older and they’re professional dancers, so you’re kind of competing as a high school extracurricular activity against people in a professional career,” senior captain Shelby Fenn said. “Whatever we were going to get we earned, so we weren’t scared to win or lose, we just knew we did our best.”
They competed against 20 and 25 different countries for their two dances, as well as dancers age 10 years older than them. While team Japan earned gold for jazz, team U.S.A. was .42 points under their score.
“Winning is great, but this experience was way more than that,” varsity dance team coach Rachelle Kiehle said. “Getting to meet people from all over the world in one place is a once in a lifetime experience.”