Evangeline Colarossi—Staff Writer
Squeals of laughter, rustling pom-poms and eager smiles filled Dordt’s Recreation Center last Saturday. The Defender Dance Team hosted their third annual Youth Dance Camp and the Rec Center was packed with little girls all morning.
Eighty-two grade schoolers poured into the aerobics room where the 10 dance team members played games to hype them up for the coming day. When all the kids had registered, grabbed their dance team shirts and parents finally said goodbye, the dancing began.
Children were split into three different age groups where they learned a routine choreographed by team members Stephanie Hood, Martina Hoogland and Hayley Visser. The rest of the team helped to corral and instruct the girls throughout the day.
Water breaks, snack time and random questions were scattered throughout the day as the children got to know one another and the dance team. Along with their dance, they learned the importance of being part of a team and supporting others. By performance time, the girls had mastered cheering for their friends in each of the dances, taking that enthusiasm right onto the court.
“We do the dance camp because young girls look up to us and it makes them feel special and loved,” said dance team captain Martina Hoogland.
For some of these girls, this is the only time they will take a dance class or be part of a dance team. One of the goals of this camp is to help the kids be confident in dancing as a team and enjoy themselves. Children see the dance team’s sparkly dresses and pom-poms and gush about how they love them. Like any athlete, the dancers are being watched by the children and are using this opportunity to help them embrace dance and each other.
The Dordt College Dance Camp has been a tradition for the past three years, allowing the youngsters to interact one-on-one with dance team members in an energetic day camp. For several hours in the morning, the girls learned a routine, went home for a short lunch break and returned to perform at halftime for the Dordt vs. Midland men’s basketball game.
“It is a fun and high-energy camp aimed to give participants the experience of being a part of a dance team,” head coach Mel Knobloch said. “It is also a great opportunity for them to perform in front of an audience at a college event.”
While many girls admitted to being nervous as they waited to perform, their jitters faded away once they took their starting positions. Smiles developed and hands were thrown into the air to wave at parents and grandparents in the bleachers. With a theme of “Soak up the Sun,” the dance routine was set to a melody of “Pocketful of Sunshine,” “Walking on Sunshine,” “California Gurls,” “Cake by the Ocean” and “Soak Up the Sun.”
At the end of the day, the practice floors were covered in cookie crumbs and shredded pom-poms. Trash cans overflowed with juice bottles and the mirrors were streaked with fingerprints. The long day and busy schedule were well worth it when the girls exited their performance to find high fives from the Dordt football players cheering for them in the halls.
No matter the team, no matter the sport, the excitement of their accomplishment was shared by each athlete, whether a kindergartener or a college student.