Chiefettes R-O-C-K in the USA and state competition

Thu, 03/27/2008 - 10:17am
By: The Citizen

Chiefettes at UDA meet

After an exhausting yet successful weekend, the McIntosh High School Varsity Chiefettes Dance Team returned from Orlando, Fla. with exciting news. The girls returned from the Universal Dance Association (UDA) National Dance Team Championship (NDTC) with much more than just a huge trophy.

Their season starts in the summer with team camp where teams qualify to compete at the national level. One might wonder why the national competition is before the state competition. State is not a qualifier for the national competition; the girls earned the right to compete nationally when they attended summer camp. This summer the girls will have to earn their invitation once more. The Chiefettes learned their competition routines back in August and have been cleaning and perfecting them ever since.

Returning home, they started the tedious and meticulous work that comes with dreaming big. With intense practices 4-5 days a week, these girls work almost year-round.

Although the girls have limited practice space at the school, with the support of sponsor World Gym, the Chiefettes were able to secure a mirrored practice space one day a week. The other days, this dedicated dance team relied on their coach Carmen Yarbrough to be their mirror and give them important corrections such as the angle at which their arm should be placed or the curvature of their backs. While these corrections may seem insignificant or trivial, when competing at this level, the perfect synchronization of everything from feet to eyes remains vital.

High Kick, one of the most difficult dance forms to execute, requires painstakingly accurate technique to make it look effortless—which is a dancer’s ultimate goal. To reach this blend of athleticism and performance, the Chiefettes even added ankle weights to their routine to improve their kick technique. While each girl is passionate about her sport, they feel their hard work is even more validated when they receive such great community support especially this year from area businesses.

The semi-finals began early Saturday morning at the Indiana Jones Theater at MGM Studios where the Chiefettes performed both their High Kick and Pom routines. All the girls’ parents were sitting in their seats as early as 7:30 a.m. with noise-makers and posters ready to cheer on their team. Decked out in red, white and blue, in a year where patriotism is high, the Chiefettes excitedly launched a USA-theme routine. With adrenaline racing through their bodies, the girls raced out on the floor with the hopes of performing well enough to advance to finals with the best of the best in the United States. Out of the 29 teams competing in their category, the Chiefettes were ecstatic when they learned they made the cut and advanced to finals with their High Kick routine!

Even though the national competition took place in the magical world of Disney, most of the Chiefettes’ time there was spent practicing and further perfecting their intense routines. Senior Captain Christie Ethridge states, “While we were all eager to ride the Tower of Terror, we stayed dedicated to working for the competition the entire weekend; I’m proud of everyone for being so focused!”

After practicing some more in the heat of the day in the hotel parking lot, the Chiefettes raced back to the Milk House at the Wide World of Sports for their final performance, possibly the most important of their dance career. After practically memorizing the Nationals DVDs from the year before, these girls were ready to confront the teams face to face on the Milk House floor. When the music started, the team knew it was time to leave all inhibitions behind and give everything they had for the mere two minutes they held the stage. From the opening fouettes to the ending (and painful looking) jump-split, the team pulled off an extraordinary USA-theme performance.

The Chiefettes surpassed their personal goal of simply making it to finals and placed an impressive 13th in the nation.

“Nationals was the best weekend of my life; nothing will ever compare,” Christie stated.

However, the Chiefette accomplishments don’t end there! Only two weeks later, the girls were eager to excel again, but this time at the State level. The Chiefettes won first place in both their divisions, High Kick and Pom, continuing their multiple year reign over Georgia. The Chiefettes graduated seven experienced seniors last year who comprised nearly half the dance team, so most every year is a rebuilding year.

Senior Co-Captain Lauren White stated, “We had so much more competition this year, so our wins were so much sweeter. It really showed how strong we’ve gotten as a team and how far we’ve come.” Lieutenant Laura Dunlap continues, “The difference between us and many other teams is the incredible bond we have. We can communicate on the floor not only as teammates but as best friends.”

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