Leaping above the odds: York Competitive Dance Team qualifies for dance’s first virtual state tournament

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Photo courtesy of Madilyn Maucieri

The team cherishes their advancement to state after the sectional competition. “It has surely been a bumpy ride, but we made it to state, baby!” senior Kaylee Schaner said. “And I couldn’t be more proud of this team for persevering!”

CeCe Lampa, Co Editor-in-Chief of TIY

After a second-place finish at the sectional tournament, the York Varsity Competitive Dance Team is headed to a virtual state tournament. For the ninth consecutive season, the team qualified for state but will not be heading down to Peoria this year. 

For this season, the team’s dance, “Half Light,” focuses on showcasing half of oneself in a relationship, a prevalent issue during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We really connected this season during COVID-19 since we all love our relationship with dance so much,” senior Nev Lawless said. “But we are being held back and cannot get to the surface because of the pandemic stopping us.”

The pandemic has not only influenced their dance but their ability to learn and create it. The rehearsal time allocated for the state series was reduced to only a month, making it difficult to create in such a short time span. The team also would fill their dances with lifts and weight shifts, but with COVID-19 social distancing parameters, the routine looks very different than in past years, maintaining six feet of distance and wearing masks.

“This season we had a really short amount of time to produce a dance that we were proud of, which seemed extremely stressful,” senior Madilyn Maucieri said. “Even though this seemed impossible, we were forced to bond in such a short amount of time and give everything we had within a month, when we normally have almost a year.”

The senior team members smile under their masks in front of the annual state banner. “Something I will always take from it is the realization of how close our team is by the end of the season and how devastated we are that we are losing our seniors,” Maucieri said. (Photo courtesy of Haylee Williams)

Despite the challenges presented by this abnormal year and the reduction in practice time, the team is thrilled for the rush of energy that the state series can provide. Senior Haylee Williams went to the state series during her junior year and loved the excitement of being a state competitor.

“To actually be at the State Competition is unlike any feeling,” Williams said. “The connection on that state floor dancing with your team for the last time is an everlasting emotion.”

The team will not dance on the state floor this season; however, some new members of the team are grateful for any state experience, even with the absence of normalcy.

“This is my first time on varsity, and, unfortunately, I couldn’t experience what it was like to be on the state floor yet,” sophomore Skylar Lupa said. “The upperclassman really helped to give us an idea of what state was actually like, and that helped me to understand its importance.”

The team huddles together after a dress rehearsal in the South Gym in preparation for state. “The State series takes hard work, dedication and determination,” Williams said. “Learning how to work hard and cohesively with a big group is difficult, but we make it work every year, and we always make it great!” (Photo courtesy of the York Competitive Dance Team Instagram)

Following a state championship in 2018, there are large expectations for this team and their accomplishments. For the dancers and senior Kaylee Schaner, it is all about the experience they have gained from the team and the sense of belonging that so many have lost during the pandemic.

“Poms has really given me a whole new perspective, because when you are part of a team you have to be the most selfless thinker ever,” Schaner said. “Because in that moment, with YOUR team, you aren’t just competing for yourself, you compete for the girl next to you. And that is the most beautiful thing because as a team, we give up ourselves to each other and put our hardest work forward to create the most beautiful piece of art that we can.”