Coaches and members of the Monona Grove High School dance team haves something add to the high school trophy case.
For the first time, the team earned a trophy at the state tournament, finishing in fifth place in the Division 2 jazz competition.
“This is a really successful year, not just because of where we placed, but they worked so hard and they have a great team atmosphere,” coach Molly Burt said.
The team competed in jazz and pom at regionals in Watertown and advanced to the state tournament in La Crosse, performing the same routine at both levels as is required. MG took second place in jazz and pom.
For dance, there are three regions, and MG is in the largest division. This year, pom had 14 teams, and jazz had 10. The top half of the finishers at regionals advance to state, but the number is capped at a maximum of six from each division.
“It’s the same score sheets; however, in my expertise, I like to say that always at regionals, uniformity wins,” Burt said. “They want to see the dancers are doing the same thing the entire dance. That shows that they have skill and that it’s well-rehearsed. To get to state, you have good technique, you have good uniformity, you have good showmanship, but it’s what wows the judges.”
The routine is the same, but the emphasis changes at the state tournament.
“Who’s going to push the hardest? Sometimes, they have crazy themes, crazy energy,” Burt said. “We have a team of 11, but you’ll see teams of 30 on the floor.”
The team of 11 also has a team manager this year. There were 14 on the team in the fall, and it’s common to have a smaller group beyond the football season, Burt said.
Tryouts are held in the spring, dancers attend a summer camp in Iowa, and then it’s performance time at football games, parades and competition season, as well as a few boys and girls basketball games.
Along the way, the team hosts three youth nights.
“We have a kids camp where young dancers from the community come and learn a dance from our dance team … and they perform at the game,” assistant coach Tracy Hines said.
Usually there are 25-30 youths at the special nights, but the football season will see as many as 50, which is where it needs to be capped due to the availability of poms.
“There’s a lot of interest in and a great experience for these young dancers to look up to the high school team,” Hines aid.
Eventually, those elementary school students make their way to high school.
“We have a couple dancers that used to do the camps when they were younger, and now they’re on the team,” Burt said.
Team members are boys and girls, from freshmen through seniors.
“For football and basketball games, we do kind of a variety, typically like pom, kick and hip-hop,” Burt said. “For competition, we do strictly pom and jazz. I just feel that’s our strength.”
This year’s pom routine was a mixture of songs; for jazz, they danced to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.”
Burt is the lead choreographer. Most of the season is student-run, with team members selecting many of the songs. Burt generally selects the music for competition, but she will also meet with the team captains to narrow the selection if necessary.
Most every performance is a different routine for the team.
The team’s 2019-20 banquet is coming up, and after that, members can choose the optional practice sessions before tryouts for the 2020-21 squad are held.
For the coaches and underclassmen, that means another chance at another state trophy.