Dance Troupe refines program, wins USA Dance Competition

With their elegant dance moves and hand motions, Dance Troupe won the USA Dance Competition for the small jazz section, Jan. 28.

After winning the competition, the dancers say they were motivated by the fact that their hard work was paid off.

The Dance Troupe’s next competition is the USA Dance Competition at Fountain Valley High School on Feb. 18. They will be competing in the extra small dance, small jazz, medium dance, and small lyrical sections.

With a good start to the season,  the team is determined to practicing hard and reaching their ultimate goal: winning the championship title at Nationals.

Last year, the dance team was not able to reach finals at Nationals but this year, they hope to go and win back their title.

In order to qualify for Nationals and be a part of the top 25 percent teams who perform in finals, the Dance Troupe needs to win several regionals, such as the USA Dance Competition and West Coast Elite, ultimately leading to Nationals in March.

They can do this by scoring above an 84.9 and being placed in the championship category. Below a score of 84.9 means they will be in the open division.

With their smaller size compared to last year, the team needed to make changes to their program at the start of the new season in order to improve.

The team officers along with the coach, Westview alumni Skye Johnson (‘12) worked together to plan out their goals and how they will achieve them.

“In order to achieve this as a team, we need to trust in myself as a coach and each other to hold each other accountable for putting our best foot forward,” Johnson said.

They also plan out the team’s outfits together for competition.

One of their big changes of the new season came from a more focused mindset and determination to make their way up to Nationals.

“Our minds are very different  [this season] which is really nice,” team officer Christina Lumibao (12) said.

With a smaller team, the troupe was able to assist each other more on their movements and the small details. They paid more attention so that they would not make a mistake during the routine.

The coach and dancers also decided to add more practices by meeting outside of school during the weekends to work on their routines together.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday are the normal practices for the Dance Troupe each week. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the dancers have off rolls that can be used to prepare further for other dance shows such as pep rallies.

A typical practice starts with stretching and marking to practice timing and specific parts in the choreography.

Another change the team officers decided to make in practices was assigning homework to the dancers.

“We made sure everyone watched the videos we have for each practice and come prepared with a choreography,” Lumibao said.

By having intense practices for several hours every week, in addition to improving their technique, the team was able to create strong ties with one another.

“We’ve kind of built a family around it and the motivation to work with one another and to build off one another to accomplish our goals is really motivating,” Ciemiewicz said.

Along with a strong friendships, the dancers were able to correct each other and pay more attention to their technique and timing as well as improving their facial expressions during a routine.

The dancers were also able to improve with the help of Johnson.

Although it has only been a year since Johnson began coaching the Dance Troupe, she said she was able to observe and notice the team growing together.

“I love watching their creativity and artistic visions come to life during our show,” Johnson said. “And seeing their hard work and dedication paid off when our name was called for first place.”

By being the Dance Troupe’s coach, Johnson says that she feels great to give back to the program she was a part of in high school that has shaped her to be the person she is today.

Johnson says that coaching Dance Troupe has helped her become more confident in her coaching abilities. She was able to push the dancers to their limits so they can do their best.

The Dance Troupe has already won several regionals including West Coast Elite at Rancho Bernardo in January.

This year, the dancers hope that they will end the season well together through their hard work.

“Starting off the season doing well has pushed and motivated us more to keep working so that this year we can make it into finals,” Ciemiewicz said.