Dance Dedication

Ashley Wyzinski, reporter

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   As life and school can be stressful, people need a way to escape from all of it. One way some of the  students at Elkhorn South do that is by dancing. Nebraska dance is where seniors Meg Nielsen, Reise Thomsen, and junior Lily McKenzie have danced for the majority of their lives. Nebraska Dance offers classes for a variety of ages and has a wide range of styles, including contemporary, lyrical, jazz, and hip hop and more. Competitive dance is a selective sport, but Nebraska Dance is known for their strong, loving community.

    To be on a competitive dance team takes hours of practice. On top of the dance classes, the dancers also take technique classes to improve their skill. Most dancers are there over 4 days a week and as it gets closer to competition, the weekends have more classes and the classes become longer. The dancers have to find a way to balance school and other aspects of their life around the demanding hours of dance practice.

    “People think dance is not as much work as it really is. We are constantly practicing to get better like any other activity or sport,” Thomson said.

    Most of the high schoolers at Nebraska Dance have been together for many years. Like many other teams there is a sense of friendship and community among the team.

    “Through dance, I have met some of my very best friends. I have come to recognize every individual has strengths that can be admired and respected. There is nothing like putting in the hours of hard work with your teammates, growing and improving together, and then letting it all shine on stage. I can easily say that dance brings people closer together,” Nielsen said.

    Many dancers, like Thomsen, Nielsen, and McKenzie, are on a high school dance team along with dancing at a studio. They are continually preparing and practicing for a competition. At Nebraska Dance, the dancers compete around six times a year. Like any other group they have their own pre show rituals that get them through the nerves and stress of competition.

    “We always huddle up as a team and each person says something motivational before we give it our all on stage. When we are on deck, we pray as a team to calm our nerves,” Nielsen said.

    One of the teachers at Nebraska Dance is Emily Stephenson. She teaches a wide variety of styles, but her favorites are contemporary and lyrical because she can watch students express themselves through the style. Stephenson has also been dancing since she was three years old. Dancing has been a major part of her life and she still enjoys creating and sharing her love for dance.

    “I think the most important thing is that I learned time management. As a competitive dancer, you had to use your free time wisely in order to stay sane balancing everything on your plate. I am in awe of my students and how well they are able to do it all. I remember those days and it is not easy! They know how to get everything done and still show up ready to work hard at dance,” Stephenson said.

    Another teacher at Nebraska dance is Cassidy Sarver. She stated to assist teaching classes when she was in middle school and now teaches both competitive and non competitive dance. She grew up dancing and knows how important it is to make a positive environment for the dancers.

    “Even after a long night of working I will hear myself counting in my head and other random tidbits like that. Dance is truly a lifestyle,” Saver said.

    Competitive dance takes time and dedication to improve. Although it is hard work, dance allows people to get their mind away from school and other problems.

    “Dance is an easy outlet to stop worrying about other things and just express yourself and your emotions with people who love it as much as you do,” Mckenzie said.