Varsity dance team adds youth — looks to repeat 2017 season


Ali Czarnecki, Sports Reporter

Following last year’s successful season, the 2017-18 FHC Varsity Dance Team has their work cut out for them. The team lost seniors Katelyn Johnson, Paityn Wedder, and Elizabeth Martin after placing ninth in the nation at nationals in Florida last season. However, this year’s team is the largest that the school has ever had, starting their season with 17 girls. New additions to the team include freshmen Morgan Mittlestadt, Julia Kirkman, Grace Pennington, and Molly Vonk, and sophomores Sarah Tiggleman, Sarah Buchanan, and Katrina Cassady.

Junior captain Alyssa Zadel is a member of the team for the third year this year. Her leadership and dedication to dance have helped to lead this large team aside senior captain, Rylee Hrynak. The team has had the opportunity to experience new grounds thus far. Alyssa is excited about how the team has progressed and is optimistic about the rest of the football season.

“We’re excited to continue to dance at playoff football games, which we’ve never done before, and to compete with all of our new talents,” Alyssa said. “This year we also got a chance to dance with the FHNE dance team at the Fifth Third game against FHN. It was a very fun experience and a great way to bond between the [FHPS] dancers.”

The dance team will be competing in regional competitions at St. John’s, Jenison, and Byron Center this winter. At these competitions, they will compete against other high school teams in the following categories: pom, jazz, and hip-hop. The girls are hoping to have a successful season as they have had in years past. Junior Rielly Nehls elaborated on the team’s future for this season.

We have a very versatile team this year with overall well-rounded dancers. It will be interesting to see how we do against other teams, but we hope to continue to be a force to be reckoned with.”

— Rielly Nehls

Being the only senior on the team, Rylee Hrynak has stepped up to be a big part of the team’s success. As her four year career as a member of the team ends this year, she looks forward to competing with the team for the last time this season.

“I feel we’ve got some pretty strong dances and team this year so it’ll be fun to show judges and other teams what we’ve been working on throughout the summer and school year,” Rylee said, who will be leading the team this year. “I’m excited about the Winterfest assembly when we perform in front of our school. I believe that we will be performing our hip hop dance which is probably the most fun dance to perform out of the 3 we have. The team really gets into it and hopefully, our school likes it too.”

With the history of the dance team’s success, this only brings upon more pressure leading up to this competitive yet thrilling season. The ambition of this team is to mainly focus on hip-hop moves and group switch spots during dances. But overall, to keep everything looking sharp and making sure the movements stay together.

Coach Holly Bieber and her team are excited to perform their hip-hop routine this year. In past years they hired choreographer Megan Reed from Detroit to create their hip-hop routine. This year the girls were thrilled to have the opportunity to have professional choreographer from LA, Markus Shields, to choreograph their piece.

“We are a very technical team, and don’t have a lot of styles especially when it comes to hip-hop, but Markus really worked hard to make a routine we feel comfortable and look decent doing,” Rylee said. “But we all love it and love doing it. Also, the team is actually bigger this year too so that’s new. We had some difficulties with not having enough of a lot of things like our poms, uniforms, but we figured it out like we always do.”

As the dance team will continue to perform at every school dance assembly and pep-rallies, Sophomore Brynn Kiddle says the best part will be “showing our talent to our student body and teachers.” The girls are well prepared and work to strive at practice every day.

The girls begin practicing in the summer every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and attend dance camp. They continue to practice throughout the year, dance at football games, compete, and perform at basketball games. Junior Lindsey Lunt explains how the long season can be exhausting, but the joy of performing makes the hard work worth it.

“We practice all summer and most of the school year, three days a week, along with games, performances, and competitions. Practicing five and a half hours a week almost all year round can get repetitive and tiring,” Lindsey said. “I would say our team definitely requires some of the most dedicated athletes at the school because we aren’t just a one season sport. We try to stay focused and keep practices exciting. All the hard work is worth it when we get to perform in front of our friends and family.”

After the team makes their statement this season, Rylee is unsure if she will be continuing her dance career after high school, if she ends up at Michigan State she said she will try out for the dance team or end up joining the club team. But the long-lasting friendships that come with this team will be with her forever. It is exciting but very sentimental after being with these girls for four years.

“I’m looking forward most to the last basketball game, senior night. The seniors usually get to pick the dance or make up one for the team that last game, so it might end up being funny or just a good fun dance to do,” Rylee said. “It’ll be my last time dancing with these ladies and I know it’ll be an emotional time for me. I’m also looking forward to our banquet since we are all dancers we usually go all out and also our mothers all go out planning a big nice dinner and dressing up nice.”