Hinsdale South learns at first state dance competition
Maine South Advances To Class 3A Finals
Updated: February 5, 2013 5:22PM
How are judges supposed to decide between apples and oranges?
That’s what Cassie Calvello wanted to know about the inaugural Illinois High School Association state dance competition, where all different forms of dance were integrated into one event.
“Oh gosh, I feel so bad for them having to judge all of the different kinds of forms of dance,” Calvello said. “It was anything you can imagine. There was hip-hop. There was lyrical. There were all different types of dance and pom and kick and everything.”
While Calvello and her Hinsdale South squad brought a pom-and-kick mixture to Bloomington, teammate Jamie Massimilian said that the Hornets were in the minority last weekend. For the most part, Friday and Saturday were flush full of pom and hip-hop teams, leaving kick largely out of the equation. Somehow, all of the teams, whether they used their arms or their legs, whether they chanted or blasted music, were judged against one another.
“I think that many coaches were in the same boat in that we were real apprehensive that they were eliminating performance categories,” Hinsdale South coach Courtney Gillette said. “I think that may be the No. 1 issue that us coaches had over the weekend was really trying to understand how a judge, no matter how experienced they might be, could manage to compare all the categories.”
For the dancers and coaches, the pressure didn’t begin when they arrived at US Cellular Coliseum. They were debating ways to please the judges all season long.
Usually, the Hornets’ biggest competitions of the year take place in March, when both Team Dance Illinois and the Illinois Drill Team Association hold their main events. This year, Hinsdale South had to prepare for the brand-new and confusing IHSA state meet in late January.
“We had to push ourselves a lot harder starting right off the bat at the beginning of the season,” Massimilian said. “It can get intense, but I think the best thing to remind the team, especially when it’s so early, is that the season is coming up and it’s so hard to push our schedule way forward so it does make sense to fit in a lot of extra practices. And it’s just important to keep the ultimate goal in mind, which was getting to that IHSA state.”
To make matters more interesting, the Hornets had to prepare an additional routine for the IHSA event. Hinsdale South always works separately on pom and kick routines, but this year, the Hornets looked to unfurl a third routine by incorporating the two together, a decision Gillette is reluctant to repeat.
“We went with this idea of kind of meshing our forms,” Gillette said. “As a coach, it’s a learning experience. As a dancer, it’s a learning experience. I will definitely go at it maybe a little bit differently in the future. I will say that in meshing the styles together, you lose the true art form of dance, in that you’re not really being true to the sport itself.”
Even once finished, the routine took its toll. Hinsdale South placed 18 among the 31 teams in 2A.
“It tested our endurance as a team entirely,” Calvello said, “because it’s so different only focusing on the legs for a kick routine,. Whereas in pom you’re focusing on the arms and then together our entire bodies were just dead at the end of the routine.”
All told, coach and players alike were grateful for the event, which proved that competitive dance is now officially a sport in the Land of Lincoln.
“It was monumental for dancers, for those who have come before us,” Gillette said. “There has been a lot of fighting for treating dance as a real, legitimate sport in the state of Illinois so this is a great achievement for all of the dancers that have come before us to be recognized.”
Or more simply put:
“I’m just really excited that the IHSA finally thinks that we’re a sport and is finally recognizing that we are athletes,” Calvello said.