Dance is the word

MARSHALL – It was more about the performance than it was about winning, said a number of dance team members at the 2014 Annual Marshall Tiger Dance Team Invitational on Saturday at Marshall High School.

Hundreds of energetic high school dancers from around the region came together for the 8th annual event, resulting in a high-energy, quality show for the packed house.

“The best part is performing in front of the audience and getting to show off what you’ve worked so hard for,” Marshall senior Rachel Swan said. “I love it.”

One of six seniors on the Tiger dance squad, Swan had a difficult time deciding a favorite between the high kick and jazz routines.

“I like jazz a little better because it’s sassy, but kick is more upbeat, so they’re kind of even,” Swan said. “It was fun to see the crowd getting into it, too, because they understand the movie.”

The Marshall high kick team danced to ’50s music, songs from “Grease” in particular. Marilyn Monroe’s “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” was highlighted in the team’s jazz routine.

“I’m excited,” Swan said. “Hopefully our scores improved. We made a lot of changes, so hopefully those changes will reflect in the score.”

Marshall ended up sweeping the competition, winning the Class AA varsity jazz and high kick. The Tiger junior varsity also won both competitions.

“We did a ton of changes, basically a whole new dance for high kick and we finished it (Friday), so I thought the girls went out and did awesome,” said Amber Jans, first-year head coach at Marshall. “The high kick dance is so high-energy. It’s very fun.”

Jans said she was not disappointed with the energy and enthusiasm that dancers and fans from the 13 varsity and junior varsity teams brought with them. The atmosphere was one that her dancers especially appreciated.

“There’s tons of energy,” Jans said. “It’s always more fun when you can be at home and have more fans than when you go to the cities.”

Marshall ninth-grader Andrea Caron agreed.

“It’s our home invite and a lot of our friends are here,” she said. “They don’t always want to make that three-hour trip to watch us in the cities. So they’re here, supporting us all the way. It gives us adrenaline. It’s great.”

Tracy-Milroy-Balaton senior Brianna Anderson was pleased with her team’s effort at the competition.

“For high kick, I think we did one of our better times,” Anderson said. “We danced as a whole even though we just learned almost a new dance, but I feel like we did really good.”

The Twisters ended up taking first-place in jazz and were third in high kick.

“When we come out on the floor, we want to present a good, fun dance to watch for the audience and have fun with it,” Anderson said. “That’s the biggest part. But the judges look for technicality, like good technique with our kicks, straight kicks, tight movements and facials, especially. That’s why we do the crazy, big smiles.”

Canby/Minneota Sensations dancer Taylor Vandeputte has been in dance since she was 2. Now, as a junior, she appreciates how far she and her teammates have come.

“I love dance,” Vandeputte said. “I love the girls, our team bonding and how, working as a team, we’ve improved over the years.”

Vandeputte said she sees the formation of one team, from two schools, as a positive move.

“It’s been awesome for us to have so many more girls,” she said. “We used to dancing with eight or nine, but now we’re dancing with 20. And we all get along with each other. It’s awesome.”

Before finding out her team took second in the Class A varsity high kick competition, Vandeputte was hopeful.

“I think it went really well,” she said. “As a team, it was our best performance that we’ve had so far. There were a couple of girls who said they weren’t sure, but our coach said we did really good. I’m really excited to see what we got. We’re hoping for a trophy today.”

Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd won the Class A varsity high kick competition and were third in jazz.

“I think it went really good, and I could tell we were dancing as a whole team, with our sharpness and our kick height,” Shadow senior Brooke Franzky said. “The strength with our kicks has improved a lot so it’s fun.”

The LQPV/D-B Shadows have placed as high as second at other competitions and were pleased to have shown improvement.

“We were happy with the results,” Franzky said. “It’s always fun to hear the other three names called first before the first-place is named. We were super-excited.”

LQPV/DB ninth-grader Megan Borstad performed with the Shadow junior varsity high kick team, which took third-place.

“I think we did pretty good,” Borstad said. “When I’m on the floor, I try to keep my kicks up and sharpness and leave it all on the floor. The crowd was definitely good (Saturday). Our fans were in the whole middle section, pretty much. This is one of my favorite tournaments.”

While the Lakeview Mystiques did not place at the competition, first-year head coach Abbie Westby said the experience was beneficial.

“I think we are doing very well,” Westby said. “We haven’t been able to perform or compete for a month because of weather issues, so this is our first one in quite a long time. It was good to get back into it and get back that fire for performing and competing.”

As the season winds down and sections loom in the near future, teams are working toward peak performance.

“We’re working on cleaning up our routines now and getting our muscles conditioned again now that we know the routines,” Westby said. “They start to get sick of doing the same thing over and over, so we start conditioning and building up. That’s our next phase.”