Facing the Music


Amy Garrido, Website Editor

Stepping out into line, the team faces a panel of judges who only wear straight faces. Nerves build amongst the team members as the dancers prepare to compete for the next few minutes. The gym is empty, with only the judges, coaches and volunteers to time them. After months of practice, they only have one shot to give their best performance. As individuals, the dancers have a great amount of skill, but the competition season means coming together as a team. When the school day is over, you can find the dancers in the gym practicing  

“You can usually find CGVDT in one of the CG gyms running our dancing multiple times to make sure we have it perfect,” sophomore Secilia Brooks said. “We have been preparing by cleaning all of our movement and really making sure we focus on projection to the judges.”

In order to focus on the smaller details, such as timing, coordination and facial expressions, while in competition season, the team began learning routines months prior.

“At the start of the year we are assigned dances that we are in for the season. This year I am in our jazz, hip hop and large ensemble dances. We then start choreography for our dances in September/October and clean [up the dances],” senior captain Jadyn Tomes said. “Cleaning them helps make us all look similar so that we can get a higher score. After that, we go to competitions at high schools across the state and compete against other high school dance teams. We are in AAA. This is the highest and hardest category of the competitions.”

Competing in the Indiana High School Dance Team Association, also known as IHSDTA, the dancers have adjusted their schedules while competing to ensure that they are performing in a COVID-safe manner.

“This year because of COVID, we have had to make some adjustments to the once normalcy of the dance world. Something that has specifically changed is competitions. We are extremely lucky and grateful that we still get to compete at competitions. To continue to do so, we had to change the way they were once organized,” Brooks said. “In past seasons, we would usually have around 6:30 a.m. call times and be away until 8 p.m. But to prevent long exposure times, we work in block schedules. Groups of teams will come and run all their dances back to back and then leave. This helps keep the numbers of dancers in the gym/school smaller.”

The competition season only began in January, and the team has already seen improvement in their scores. The number of dancers has changed, senior captain Alyssa King explains how the team finds motivation. 

“This year has been really tough because there are only 12 girls on the team, versus last year we had 20,” King said. “We stay motivated by motivating each other. Being a small team, it’s easy to get discouraged by other teams larger and more technical than us. but no matter what we always improve and better ourselves at each practice.”

On Feb. 6, the team hosted a last-minute invitational at CG Middle School North. Freshman Grace Greca was one dancer whose mom worked with the Dance Parent Organization to organize the invitational so that they could perform while following COVID guidelines. 

“COVID guidelines didn’t work out with another school being able to host us, so we stepped in. We asked if we could host one instead and we got approved. They aren’t supposed to tell us right away, so they told us the Wednesday before it. I’m pretty sure they had been planning and preparing for a couple of weeks but we were not made aware until less than a week before,” Greca said. “Because of COVID, we weren’t allowed to have spectators, so a lot of teams didn’t want to go if they couldn’t have people to watch. That was a big struggle, but we still pulled through.”

As the season progresses, junior caption Lindsey Held continues to step into her leadership role. With her fellow captains, the girls each contribute to the team’s success. 

“Everyone has different strengths that they contribute to the team. The captains this year really help to keep the team being at our best. The captains are seniors Alyssa King and Jadyn Tomes and me. As captains we try to help everyone on the team be confident and comfortable and work as hard as we can every practice,” Held said. “Alyssa is always lighthearted and works to make practices as fun as possible. Jadyn is an amazing, positive role model for others on the team to do their best. And I am a perfectionist, so I always try to make sure everyone on the team is working hard and pushing themselves constantly. All three of us have different ways of leading the team so we work together to make the best team we can.”

Entering her final competition season of her high school career, Tomes recounts her journey, not only as a dancer, but as a friend. 

“It is crazy. I remember myself as a freshman on the dance team, and it feels like it was last month,” Tomes said. “It moves so fast and honestly I do not think I was prepared for it. I wish I could do it all over again because it has been some of the best years of my life. However, it is so fun being a senior on the dance team. I get to lead my teammates and be best friends with all the girls on the team. I cannot wait to see some of them as seniors as the years go on.”

As a senior, King has found the schedule challenging. 

“Being a senior this year, I’ve seen a lot of girls go through the dance team in their years of high school. Dance team is my life, and I can’t believe it’s almost over. Juggling dance, work and school can be difficult, but I love working hard. School is always the top priority, but dance is a really close second,” King said. “It’s a way to put the backpack down after school and forget about everything. When you’re at practice, you’re there to dance.”

The team looks to further improve as the season continues. While the captains and the assistant coaches have taught and worked with the team in the gym, the team still finds motivation outside of the gym. The dancers have decided that regardless of who is leading the team, they have one common goal: make coach Mueller proud.

“Our head coach, Hannah Mueller, has been out for a few weeks on and off this year due to health issues with her husband, Jason. As a team, we all love Jason and Hannah and we completely understand that family health will always come before dance. Although not having her there every practice is hard, we are honored to have our assistant coach, Katie James Miller, to help us through this time. With Katie and the captains, the team is still working hard and pushing through this difficult time to make Hannah and Jason proud.”

Their next competition is Feb. 13 at Crawfordsville HS.