|Bluebird Varsity, JV Dance Teams Perform Well at KHSAA State|
|PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. The Highlands Varsity Dance Team performs a routine at a recent basketball game.|
But what people may not realize is how much time the team puts into the routines. It starts with summer conditioning and continues with two three-hour practices per week.
"We do tricks and such so we all have to be on the same count make sure nobody gets hurt," said Madison Boberg, Highlands senior. "Visually, we all have to be doing things at the same exact count or it doesn't look right. We take months to clean these two dances that we do. It takes a lot of time to make them as good as they are."
Erinn Volpenhein has to pick two themes for both the pom and hip hop squads. She admits it is very difficult.
"I definitely have some sleepless nights thinking about what can we do to set ourselves apart from all the other teams that go down to NDA (Nationals) at the end of the year," Volpenhein said. "You'll go and you'll see so many amazing things and you want to be a team that stands out. But once we pick one, we kind of roll with it. Throughout the year, we have more ideas and we all come together and just think, 'How can we make this theme as great as it possibly can? Picking out the costumes, the music and all that to just play with what we've chosen for the year."
Volpenhein is a former dancer at Lexington Tates Creek and Northern Kentucky University. Former University of Cincinnati dancer Jessica Dattilo coaches the junior varsity squad with Highlands 2013 graduate Sam Reynolds coaching the middle school team.
The Dance Team performs during halftime of basketball games after performing at football games in the fall. Both the varsity and junior varsity teams came back from the first-ever Kentucky High School Athletic Association State Dance Competition on Dec. 13 at Frederick Douglass.
Out of 100, the Highlands Varsity finished second out of five teams in the Large Pom competition with 80.15 points out of 100 behind just Louisville Male's 81.3. The Highlands Junior Varsity took third in the Small Hip Hop Division out of 31 teams with 86.875 points behind Louisville DuPont Manual (91.8) and Daviess County (90.725).
"I would say the one thing I enjoy most about coaching the JV team are the girls on my team," Dattilo said. "They are hard-working girls that are capable of achieving the maximum level of talent for their age. It is truly inspiring to watch them perform on the floor."
The competition consists of four judges and the final score is averaged together from those four scores. Teams are based on categories such as creativity, music, synchronization of motions, energy, facial expression and how the performance comes off to the crowd.
"It's been great so far. They've been doing really well at all their performances," Volpenhein said. "I've enjoyed watching them. They're really grown a lot over the year already so I'm excited to see where they're going to go with that."
The varsity team consists of six seniors. The other five are Kelly Mentzer, Kayle Kyle, Emma Eide, Katie Buecker and Amanda Broering.
"When it comes down to practice, I don't we don't necessarily want to be here for three hours at weeknights and on weekends," Kyle said. "But when it comes down to dancing at the games and the competition, I think we all enjoy being a family and just not only supporting our school, but being a team and rooting for each other."
A number of Highlands graduates have gone on to dance in college. Abby Weyer is dancing at the University of Cincinnati. Jillian Malloy and Emmalee Kempf dance at Eastern Kentucky University. Beth Ann Griffith, Megan Reynolds, Marcy Mentzer and Corinne Holmes are dancing down the road at Northern Kentucky University. Maria Massa dances at Xavier University and Hilary Gadd dances at the University of Louisville.
"I think all the coaches across the board have high expectations for the girls," Volpenhein said. "We're not scared to push them and get them to their best ability and their best self as a dancer. I think once they leave Highlands, they're fully prepared to go to those college auditions and they have the skills they need to do well at those try-outs."
All three Highlands squads will perform in the Fifth Annual Fort Thomas Dance Showcase in the Highlands High School Performing Arts Center. It starts at 1 p.m. and will also feature a performance from the Xavier University Dance Team.