With every perfectly-executed turn, seamless kick, and unforgettable jump, senior captain Molly Vonk has become a staple member of the FHC Varsity Dance Team (FHCVDT). From assemblies to football games, Molly and her teammates consistently deliver flawless performances while maintaining unwavering smiles, and every time they exit the stage, they leave their audience on their feet cheering.
But this year looks different.
With practically no audience to perform for, the typical dance team would be struggling to find the motivation to continue to practice and excel; Molly, however, has refused to let any obstacle encumber her dance team’s potential. Working alongside their coaches, Molly and her fellow captain, Julia Kirkman, have strived to make this year as successful as any by employing Zoom practices, team bonding, and maintaining the dance team’s beloved traditions.
“I think that the fact that we are still getting together every week, still going to practice with each other, and [are] still becoming a team and getting to know each other [shows that] we’re persevering through the whole situation,” Molly said.
For Molly, who has now spent four years on FHCVDT, her commitment to the team has been worth the struggle. She’s stuck with the team for so long not only because she wants to continue to grow as a dancer, but also because the love she has for dance is unparalleled.
“The mental, physical, and emotional impacts [of dance] can be kind of degrading and difficult, but the beauty of the art of dance helps cure that pain,” Molly said. “Despite the negatives, there’s [a beauty to] moving in your own body and creating art to music or no music—you’re creating art with your body. It’s just a [feeling] that you cannot obtain in any other way.”
The dedication Molly has for dance is not uncommon amongst the team. Even in the current situation, all 17 dancers are as dedicated as ever and continue to prove that even a global pandemic is no match for the integrity and tenacity of FHCVDT.
On top of finding dedication and motivation, junior Abby Drueke has also developed gratitude for what the situation has done for her and her teammates. She feels that this experience has only given her more reasons to be thankful for those who dance alongside her.
“I think our team aspect has stayed strong during this time,” Abby said. “We’re still doing Zooms for fun that aren’t for practice, and when we are practicing, we’re all working really hard, and we’re all conditioning. Even in pretty tough situations, we’ve all been able to come together and understand each other’s struggles and, at the same time, just have a fun friendship—it’s a fun group of girls to be with.”
For Abby, every practice has only been motivation to be prepared for when FHCVDT returns to normalcy. She’s found the situation to be a learning experience as well as a chance to be optimistic.
“I think that having to go through this together has really helped us as a team, and it has been a good challenge for us,” Abby said. “We’re all suffering, and [being together as a team] has given us hope for our season.”
Sophomore Megan Fox shares this sentiment and has discovered that being a member of FHCVDT has given her more than she could’ve anticipated in a situation she never expected.
After finding out that her dance studio would be permanently closing, Megan began to dedicate all of her time to the dance team. Despite the heartbreaking news, she found comfort in her family on FHCVDT.
“Now that my studio has closed, [dance team] is all I do,” Megan said. “I’ve really grown to love [dance team] even more because it’s always going to be there. It’s nice to have people that you’re always going to be with no matter what.”
With the team now being her only outlet for dance, Megan has put all of her focus into becoming a stronger team dancer. Much like studio dance, the biggest part of improving as a team dancer comes from being able to learn from mistakes.
“You have to work so hard in dance because you’re constantly being critiqued,” Megan said. “That’s all dance is. You have to work hard to not get critiques, but you also have to be strong in order to take critiques and work with them [to] improve.”
Although the members of FHCVDT critique each other in order to help the team improve as a whole, the majority of critiques and instruction come from head coaches Jazzae Ford and Crystal Delgado.
Delgado’s experience as a coach has given her significant insight into the sport and art that is dance, and she believes watching dancers improve is a feeling like no other.
“I love watching the growth of each dancer every season,” Delgado said. “[Dance team] can be a lot to take in, but most rise to the challenge and end up becoming better dancers and better people while learning how to work as a team.”
Despite the many difficulties that 2020 has posed for the team, FHCVDT has navigated this formidable and challenging year together due to the help of their unbreakable bond, and this bond is exactly what FHCVDT needs to continue persevering until they’re able to perform in front of an audience again.
“Coaching during the pandemic has been different for Jazzae and I, but we love our FHC team,” Delgado said. “We have already been through so much in the years that we have been coaching together and believe that no matter what the world throws at us, we will rise with positivity, love, and optimism. Eventually, this too shall pass.”