Evangeline Colarossi-Staff Writer
The Defender Dance Team tied up their season last Friday at the 2018 NAIA qualifier. The team placed 7th at the competition, receiving a score of 60.83 in the preliminaries and bumping it up to 66.23 in the final performance. In November, the team received Division I placings in their pom, hip-hop and jazz routines that they performed at the Iowa State Dance Competition. They received a 72.75 at GPAC, earning them their 4th place spot.
The team has had a rollercoaster of a season. They started out with 18 dancers and lost eight of those over the year to graduation, injury, transferring and other commitments. Through each of their losses, the team learned to remember the commitment they had made. Weeks before the state competition, their coach gave birth, so the girls pulled together to challenge each other while their team captains ran the show. There have been knee and ankle braces hidden under costumes throughout the season, taped wrists and feet, multiple x-rays and even a boot for a fractured foot.
“After dancing for 14 years, this season was like none I have ever experienced,” said freshman Ashley Zwart. “Over the course of the season, our team lost many members and fought injury after injury and setback after setback. It was discouraging and we often wondered if it was worth it anymore, but we pushed on.”
The dance team launches into their season before the fall semester even starts and doesn’t stop until halfway through the spring semester. They worked together for more than 12 hours each week, taught seven routines at high school camp this summer, learned 22 sideline routines and four cheers at their fall camp, five routines for the home crowd, three competition routines and competed in six competitions. But even though their competition season is over, they’re now preparing again for tryouts in the spring, summer workouts and starting it all over again in several months.
One of their team’s frustrations is how unrecognized they are as a team. With a performance season that lasts six and a half months, they practice five days a week and perform almost every weekend. For the amount of time that the dancers put into their routines and conditioning, they only have two minutes on the court to show that. It’s in those two minutes that they have to prove themselves to be a sport worthy of acknowledgment.
“As our six-and-a-half-month season comes to a close, I can say that if our team learned anything this year, it’s that perseverance pays off,” Zwart said. “Just like any other sport, you have to learn how to dance and compete for the person on the court next to you, not yourself.”
Unlike most sports scoring systems, the scoring style used in duals and competitions is relative to the judges’ opinions. The score sheets have a maximum number of points that are available in each section, but the overall score depends on what each judge thinks the routine and performances factors are worth. This can result in large point differences between competitions, or even between judges.
Just because a number might be their lowest score does not mean it was their lowest performance. For each dancer, they come off of the court with mixed feelings about the performance. Some may feel like it was their best, while others wouldn’t agree.
“Despite the setbacks we faced, we gleaned so much from this season,” sophomore Hayley Visser said. “I am so thankful for the girls who persevered. I will treasure the memories we made and the relationships we built forever.”