April 7, 2020 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

‘There is this powerful bond and trust’

The St. Joseph-Ogden Dance team advanced out of their IHSA sectionals to compete at state with 30 other teams.

The next weekend they had a huge weekend at the Illinois Drill Team Association Regional. Ava Mills placed first with her solo and qualified for state, Alessa Anzelmo got a rising star award and their lyrical and hip-hop dance qualified for state. SJO brought home the second place trophy for their hip-hop dance.

We asked the team five questions to celebrate. Here are their answers.

Sophomore Alessa Anzelmo
What is the best thing about the dance team?
The best thing about the dance team is creating bonds with the team members and coaches.

What is the hardest part of being on the dance team?
All the patience and work that goes into it.

What is a misconception people have about dance?
People often think dance is really easy but they don’t actually know how hard we have to work and the amount of detail and energy that goes into every routine.  

What is competition day like?
Comp day is like watching a t at the same time.

What is your favorite type of dance?
My favorite type of dance is probably hip-hop because you can do all sorts of fun facials, talk while you’re dancing, and have fun.

Junior co-captain Samantha Naylor
What is the best thing about the dance team?
The best thing about the dance team is the team itself. We are all like one big family and most of us have danced together before. I love to dance but being surrounded by a good team makes everything better.

What is the hardest part of being on the dance team?
I would say the hardest part of being on the dance team is the amount of time and patience it takes. Every day we practice for hours and clean the same parts of choreography, it can be very repetitive especially when you’re tired. It takes up a lot of time and requires 100% effort all the time.

What is a misconception people have about dance?
The biggest misconception people have about dance is how hard it truly is. There are so many aspects of dance that people don’t realize and appreciate. We work so hard on formations, facials, and choreography every day just for a few minutes on the floor. Those few minutes dictate everything in dance, once you mess up you can’t come back. It’s over. And that doesn’t include when dancers become sick or injured, everything becomes ruined.

What is competition day like?
Competition days are the best. The excitement and energy in the air is one of the reasons why I love to dance. Then dancing your heart out and knowing you gave it your all after is a feeling I can’t explain in words.

What is your favorite type of dance?
I honestly enjoy every type of dance style for different reasons. But if I had to narrow it down, I would say either jazz or contemporary. I love jazz to entertain the crowd and to show my energy and sassiness. On the other hand, contemporary invokes emotions you wouldn’t expect to feel and truly is art.

Junior Bella Getty
What is the best thing about the dance team?
The team. we are all so close. they truly are my best friends. we spend so much time together there is no way we couldn’t be.

What is the hardest part of being on the dance team?
Learning routines very quickly. we learn our competition routines in 1-2 days and routines that perform at halftime we learn in one practice. it’s hard remembering all of the choreography.

What is a misconception people have about dance?
That dance is easy. Most people think that dance is easy because all we do is move our bodies to music, but it is just as hard as any other sport. our practices consist of us doing the routine then we talk about what needs fixed, it may look like we’re not doing anything but that is just a part of dance.

What is competition day like?
Competition days are the most stressful and fun days! They are very long and tiring, after competition i always just want to go home and sleep the rest of the night.

What is your favorite type of dance?
Lyrical/Contemporary, since I started it in 6th grade it has always been my favorite. i love the passionate choreography with the powerful music.

Sophomore, Ella Besson
What is the best thing about the dance team?
The friendships and bonds you make with your team and coaches and the life lessons you learn through dance.

What is the hardest part of being on the dance team?
The hardest part of being on the dance team for me is the patience you have to have with yourself with learning choreography and new moves and also the physical strain that is put on your body.

What is a misconception people have about dance?
A misconception people have about dance is that we don’t work as hard and don’t push our selves as much as, say a basketball player would, and that is very wrong. We just push our selves in very different ways.

What is competition day like?
A competition day for me is waking up, normally, very early in the morning and heading straight to school to get on the bus. Head to comp, and probably sleep on the bus. Once we get there our team listens to some music and we do our hair and makeup and help each other out with whatever we need. We then put on our costumes, stretch, and then go warm up to perform!

What is your favorite type of dance?
My favorite style of dance is hip hop. I love hip hop because there are so many ways that you express yourself through facials and choreography. You can be super sassy and energetic, there is no such thing as having too much! You can vibe with anyone it the crowd, if your having fun, their having fun, and when you see that in the audience that is a really cool feeling.

Senior Lexi Ribbe
What is the best thing about the dance team?
Honestly getting to know the girls, before dance I didn’t talk to very many of the girls. However, now I’d say I’m close with all of them.

What is the hardest part of being on the dance team?
The hardest part for me was this is my first year so It’s harder to get used to all the different moves, especially contemporary.

What is a misconception people have about dance?
That it’s easy, it’s a lot harder than you’d think, because of all the things you have to remember to do when dancing.

What is competition day like?
Competition day is a long day but is a good day. We get to all hang out as a team, and just enjoy it.

What is your favorite type of dance?
Hip hop definitely because it’s the only type of dance I did when I was little

Junior co-captain Isabelle Brooks
What is the best thing about the dance team?
The best part of the St. Joseph dance team is that every single girl on the team has the same amount of passion for the sport as the girl dancing next to them. With dance, there is this powerful bond and trust between each girl and it really makes dancing so much more special. We have a team full of hardworking and dedicated dancers even when times get difficult or stressful. We always push through and work for what we want.

What is the hardest part of being on the dance team?
The hardest part of being on the dance team is the constant movement with the same muscles. Your body eventually gets worn out and sometimes leads to injuries, but no matter how bad it hurts you battle through it.

What is a misconception people have about dance?
Many people label dance as a fun activity to do and that’s very true but it’s so much more than that. Many don’t realize how much you put your body through to get that jumps higher or get higher on relevé during that one turn sequence. Dance is a very competitive sport in which we are pushing ourselves to maintain the same amount of energy you started with through the end of your routine to later hear your name get called at awards.

What is competition day like?
My routine on competition days is wake up around 6:30 a.m and head over to the school to load up on the bus where we then get our breakfast bags. Once we get to the school we all start doing our makeup and hair while we play music on a speaker to get us excited for our performance. Once we are all ready it’s about time to go to the practice gym where we run the dance once and then head to the line where we wait to perform with all the other dancers. After our performances throughout the day, it’s awards. Awards are the most nerve raking part of the day but the best part. Either you’re going home happy or sad. There is no in-between.

What is your favorite type of dance?
My favorite style of dance is jazz. I love how you can be sassy but intense all in one routine.

Senior team captain Ava Mills
What is the best thing about the dance team?
The best thing about the dance team is the relationships I have with my teammates. They’re my best friends, and going out and dancing with them every weekend is so fun.

What is the hardest part of being on the dance team?
The hardest part about being on the dance team is cleaning our routines. We have to make sure everyone is doing every single move the exact same way, and that takes a lot of time.

What is a misconception people have about dance?
People usually think dance is easy or isn’t physically demanding. We have to go out on the floor and give it our all and we only have one chance. One mistake can cost us valuable points and we don’t have another try to make up for it.

What is competition day like?
Competition day is pretty hectic, but it’s fun at the same time. We get up early, do our makeup and hair and practice before we go compete. This year we usually dance four times for each competition, but it can get up to five with my solo. It’s nerve-wracking but we try to hype each other up before each performance.


What is your favorite type of dance?
My favorite type of dance is contemporary. I love the graceful movements and the emotion you get to express when I perform that style.

Junior Kylie Duckett
What is the best thing about the dance team?
The best thing about being apart of the dance team is that no matter what is going on in your life, you can go to dance and get your mind off of everything else. The people and environment can make your day go from 0-100 instantly. It’s not just a sport you participate in, it’s also an outlet for your feelings.

What is the hardest part of being on the dance team?
The hardest part of being on the team is that no matter what, you have to be a team player and perform. Whether you are sick, injured, or just not having the best day, you have to go out and perform with 100% effort. In dance, when someone is sick or injured you can’t just choose someone to take off the bench and put in. Every team member is extremely valuable and can’t be replaced with the snap of your fingers.

What is a misconception people have about dance?
I’ve noticed most people have the same misconception about dance which is that dance is not as hard as other sports. I don’t think a lot of people acknowledge the effort needed to be put in to be a successful dancer, nor how much body coordination you need to have.

What is competition day like?
Competition day is the most stressful but best day all in one. You have to be focused when warming up, making sure you have everything down like the back of your hand as it’s all a team effort. You have make sure you’re pulling your weight otherwise it won’t all come together. However, it’s worth all of the stress when you step out on the dance floor to perform, it’s really just a natural high.

What is your favorite type of dance?
My favorite style of dance is hip hop because you get to express your personality through your own, fun facial expressions. The variety of style you can put into hip hop is what makes unique. Sometimes the choreography can be groovier, sometimes it can be more hard hitting. I love when I look out into the crowd and see someone else getting hyped up from the energy of a hip hop routine.

Junior Tessa Smith
What is the best thing about the dance team?
The best thing about the dance team is that we can all have fun together and we are all very encouraging of each other. Weather someone is trying to learn a new trick or someone is simply having a tough day, the team is always there to encourage everyone on the team to do their best. And even through those tough days, the dance team is always ready to have some fun together!

What is the hardest part of being on the dance team?
Personally, the hardest part about being on the dance team is cleaning the dances. This is hard because you have to go through the entire dance and make sure every single move is the same, then you have to do the dance and try to remember everything that was fixed.

What is a misconception people have about dance?
A common misconception people have about dance is that it is an easy sport to be a part of. Many people think all we do during practice is run the dances, but it also includes the intense cleaning of the dances and fixing or changing parts to make it better.

What is competition day like?
A typical competition day includes, waking up early in the morning and heading to the school to get on the bus. Before getting on the bus, we all make sure to grab our breakfast and snack bags for the day. Then we all eat breakfast and either listen to music or chat with each other on the bus ride over. When we get to the school, we go straight to our classroom and start doing our hair, makeup and changing into our costumes. Then after that we stretch, do some tricks in the hallways and briefly practice in the gym before taking the floor. Lastly, we pray as a team before we head onto the dance floor to do what we all love!

What is your favorite type of dance?
My favorite type of dance is hip hop because it is very fun and energetic!

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