The Benedictine College dance team is heading towards competition season with their largest team yet.
This year’s team has 16 members and their first male dancer. Enthusiasm and motivation run high in this team despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.
Like every other athlete on campus, the dancers have struggled to adapt to the safety regulations while trying to maintain both their training regimen and a sense of community.
Olivia Wagner, senior, agreed it’s hard to breathe with mask but there’s another element the audience is missing.
“The reason I love to dance is I love to perform and when you’re on the sidelines with a mask no one can see your smiling face,” Wagner said.
Despite the difficulties, Wagner and the rest of the team are grateful for the opportunity to dance and to welcome new members to the team.
Jared Barrett, freshman, is the team’s first male dancer. Barrett has a background in both martial arts and breakdancing. He is lending his talents by helping choreograph, adding a fresh element to the team’s routines by incorporating breakdance moves.
Normally, the whole team competes for competitions, but because of the size of the team, some of the dancers will have to audition to compete.
Megan Chiles, who is in her third year of coaching the team, said that in her first year of coaching, the team had six members allowing the whole team to compete. However, to abide by the rules of NAIA and COVID-19 restrictions, Chiles will be auditioning the dancers.
“The rules of NAIA say you can’t have more than 16 dancers on a single team. Because of COVID, traveling will be difficult and shared hotel rooms could be a problem,” Chiles said. “To make it easier we will have auditions to have a competition team of nine or ten girls.”
In the spring, the team will participate in six competitions over two weekends. She and the three team captains are collaborating on choreography for the competition routines which must include a hip-hop, jazz, and a pom-pom section.