High School Sports

Area dance teams vie for spots in state competition

LACEY - Dancers shimmied and twisted across the River Ridge High School gym Saturday for a regional dance competition that featured 16 schools and 34 performances.

"They work day in and day out to do this," said Brenda Ellis, who coaches River Ridge's dance team. She estimated that more than 1,000 people were in the crowd at the gym.

Those who place well in two competitions during the year qualify for a state competition, she said.

Judges look for rhythm, timing and audience appeal, she said.

"A lot of people can go out there and dance, but going out on the floor and looking like one instead of 22 - that's what it's all about," she said.

Teams danced in several categories, including a carefully choreographed drill style, and relaxed, nontraditional hip-hop routines that resembled music videos.

"It's very energetic. It gets the crowd pumped. You can't even breathe afterwards," Claudia Whiteman, 18, said of River Ridge's hip-hop routine.

The team, which includes 16 girls and two boys, practices for 2 1/2 hours three to four times a week. Team members help choreograph their own routines.

"We watch music videos, we watch other teams and we have these incredibly talented people who can just make up a routine out of nowhere," Whiteman said.

The team placed second in the dance category and fourth in hip-hop. But the dancers say they don't participate to win.

"We appeal to the audience more," said Melissa Heffernan, 18. "I think we dance more for the crowd than the judges."

Diane Huber covers the city of Lacey for The Olympian. She can be reached at 360-357-0204 or dhuber@theolympian.com. Dance and drill

competition results

Drill and kick category

First place: Olympia High School

Prop/production/color guard category

First place: Mountain View-Vancouver

In the pom category

First place: Elma High School

Second place: Lakes High School, Lakewood

In the dance category

First place: Todd Beamer High School, Federal Way

Second place: River Ridge High School, Lacey

In the hip-hop category

First place: Todd Beamer High School, Federal Way

Second place: Mountain View High School

Third place: Evergreen High School

Fourth place: River Ridge High School