By Jessie Reestman
A bonus while cheering on either the Wolfpack football or basketball teams is the opportunity to be entertained at halftime by the very talented Wolfpack Dance Team.
During many home games, seven spirited young ladies put their hard work and hours of practice on display and perform various crowd-pleasing routines.
Each halftime performance provides another chance for the dancers to perfect their timing, lines, formation, and technique to prepare for the upcoming State Dance competition held Wednesday, Feb. 17, in Grand Island, Nebraska.
Marin Schindler and Kelli Tisthammer have been co-coaches of the Dance Team for the past five years. During those five years, they admit to having worked with many talented girls, and under their direction, the Wolfpack dance teams have repeatedly earned high placings at the state competition.
Coach Schindler also admitted, “My favorite part about coaching the Wolfpack Dance Team is getting to know the girls and watching their personalities show when they perform.”
Fortunately, accompanying this year’s teams’ personalities is experience. For the current squad, six of the seven members had several years of dance experience before becoming part of the Wolfpack dance team.
Members of this year’s team include sophomore Taylynne Charf, juniors Lexi Bode and Emily Mlnarik, and seniors Marissa Priester, Kirsten Krebs, Allyson Selting, and Skylar Reestman.
As with any competition, there is a great deal of work that goes on behind the scenes. Coach Schindler explained, “To prepare for State Dance, we practice, practice, and practice so more. We have practices and performances all school year, but as state draws closer, we try to have a few longer practices to really focus on perfecting our dances.” She continued, “We will be taking our Pom and Hip Hop routines to the state competition. For the pom routine, poms must be used for 80 percent of the routine. A few things the judges look at are proper pom placement, formations, strength of movement, and dance technique. For the hip hop routines, judges look for the quality of movement, creativity, flow, and control. Judges also always notice teams with good facial expressions and lots of energy.”
Another important component of achieving success at the State Dance Competition is the song selection and the choreography. Members, or a member of the dance team, take on the responsibility of selecting a song and choreographing it, keeping in mind that all songs selected must follow the guidelines set by the state. The pom routine being performed at this year’s competition was choreographed by Marissa Priester. Teammate Skylar Reestman choreographed the hip hop routine.
The choice of costumes, hairstyles, and make-up also play a significant role in the performance. However, due to Covid restrictions, there will be no changes in costumes this year. In years prior, the girls would perform one dance in their Wolfpack dance uniform and then change into something designed to represent the song they were performing.
Despite the changes being implemented for safety reasons for the competition’s format, the team is very pleased to still have the opportunity to perform. Coach Schindler concluded, “The girls really enjoy performing and getting to go to state to show off their hard work. It is always a lot of fun.”