Dance team scores well at West Coast Elite Nationals

Photo courtesy of Jazmin Baytop

By Tomas Palmieri

The dance team had a very successful run at the West Coast Elite Nationals competition on April 21 through April 23 in Long Beach. 

Small hip hop received second in small hip hop gold division, medium hip hop received fourth in the silver division, medium hip hop received seventh overall among all of the silver division dances, medium jazz received fifth in the silver division, medium hip hop received sixth in the gold division, and the team received third for student choreography in the silver division.

Junior Mirelle Nakoud received first place in the silver division soloist. Senior Kiara Coleman placed top 30 among hundreds of other dancers in the silver soloist division overall. Senior Lauren MacLean received fifth in the silver soloist division. Senior Jada Cook received fourth place in the silver soloist division. Junior Lianie Llaguno received eighth in the silver soloist division. Junior Kailee Chung and sophomore Makyla Cervantes received third place in the silver division for trios and duos.

Cook and McLean were asked to participate in the solo dance of the year for the silver division. Cook received sixth and McLean received seventh. 

At nationals, the dances are separated into two different divisions of gold and silver. Gold is the more difficult category, while silver is the step before it. Each section of the dance team is evaluated over the season to see which division they will participate in once at the national tournament.

Overall, a great showing for the Granada Hills Charter High School Dance team.

As evidenced from the many different types of awards,the anatomy of the dance team is far more complicated than what they are given credit for. 

“They think we simply perform dances at rallies and go to competitions to perform senseless dances due to dance not being recognized as an actual sport,” junior and captain of the dance team Jazmon Baytop said.

The dance team consists of jazz, hip-hop, contemporary, and pom sub-groups, all with different numbers of members for each dance. Large group dances consist of the entire dance team, medium groups consist of over ten members, and small groups consist of under ten members. For example, one small sized dance within the team is the contemporary dance group, which consists of nine of the total twenty-one members of the team overall. Members of the dance team aren’t just in one dance either, many of them participate in multiple dances. For this reason, participating in the dance team is a heavy workload.

Many dancers participate in solo and duo dances as well, meaning they are practicing not only group dances, but dances purely by themselves, attempting to hone all of them to the utmost perfection, and all on top of maintaining their academic excellence. 

Although dance is a sixth-period class, members also must commit two to three hours of after school practice every school day except Fridays. When more intensive weeks come into play like preparing for a big tournament, this practice can even go up to four hours. 

“The majority of people in the group have solos and are in most of the dances. I’m in five or six dances, and I have a solo. It’s not like any of the dances are easy either,” Baytop said.

Each dance requires intensive movements going at an exceedingly fast speed in a small amount of time. The dances the team performs require extreme precision, skill, and practice that many students fail to acknowledge.

They have to mix music and choreograph each dance with coaches in order to create what they feel is their absolute best possible performance. 

The dance team is an extraordinarily hard-working and driven student group, and by spotlighting this group, we hope they can receive the appreciation and praise they deserve. The sheer amount of dedication and effort each and every member of the team must put into being a part of it is no easily accomplishable feat.

Next time you hear the booming music coming from the quad signaling a possible performance or pep rally from the dance team, remember the amount of grit and perseverance the students on the team have and show them some support!