A Silhouette sweep

MONTEVIDEO – It was shaping up to be a tough section tournament for the Yellow Medicine East Silhouette Dance Team. Dancers said Saturday they weren’t really sure how well they would do.

“We had been beaten by Montevideo a couple times this season,” said team co-captain Paige Ryer, so YME expected a close competition. “But confidence is key, so we went in as if we knew we were going to win.”

YME dancers ended up taking first place in both the tournament’s jazz and high-kick competitions.

“It’s been an emotional roller coaster, as always. But it’s worth it,” said Silhouettes head coach Chris Nerdahl.

The Section 3A Dance Tournament was Saturday at Montevideo High School. Teams from a dozen southwestern Minnesota schools, including YME, Tracy-Milroy-Balaton, Lakeview High School and Canby/Minneota, competed in jazz and high kick dance divisions. Both YME and TMB had strong showings, TMB placing second in jazz and also advancing to state. Renville County West won third place in jazz, and Montevideo and Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson Boyd won second and third place, respectively, in high kick.

The top three teams in each competition go on to the state tournament next weekend at the Target Center.

Chalk it up to a combination of factors – the intensity of competition, the packed stands, the knowledge of a job well done. But the experience of competing at the sections was an emotional one for many girls.

“It’s the best feeling. It’s literally tears of joy,” said Morgan Hansen of the Tracy-Milroy-Balaton dance team, as she wiped her eyes. After performing for a panel of judges, there was a lot of hugging and a few tears among the Panther dancers.

Up until the awards ceremony, all Hansen and her teammates knew was that they gave their routines their best effort. But in the end that effort was rewarded with a second-place jazz trophy, and a ticket to the state tournament.

While the prospect of advancing to state heightened feelings at the tournament, dancers were focused on doing their best and supporting each other. As competing teams performed in the Montevideo High School gym, some of the loudest cheers could be heard coming from dancers in the stands. “Good job, ladies!” was a common greeting as teams passed each other between the gym and their prep areas.

“It’s definitely a lot of work,” to prepare for sections, Hansen said. In addition to performing well, she said, “You have to have a lot of confidence.” Hansen and teammate Hannah Deslauriers said support from fellow dancers, as well as from the TMB fans in the crowd, plays a big part in pumping up the team.

Personal confidence – and lots of practice – was part of the YME dancers’ routine, too.

“This year, we’ve been going through kind of a mental run-through” of the team’s dances, Ryer said.

Both the Panthers and the Silhouettes are facing a week of even more preparation, leading up to the state tournament. YME captains said ending the season with two first-place trophies and the state competition will be a good send-off for seniors on the team.

“It’s bittersweet,” Ryer said.