Dance team earns its first virtual win

The NPHS dance team competed for the first time this school year on the weekend of Jan. 30, earning first place in the concept video category. Completely virtual, the competition consisted of video submissions of dance numbers. Despite their first place finish, the dance team encountered numerous difficulties throughout the process and have had to make adjustments to what they do to prepare and compete.

With the dance team’s first competition, they worked hard to compose a memorable video to impress the judges. However, their vision was disrupted when Ventura County returned to a lockdown with stricter regulations. “Before winter break, we were in phase two, which meant the whole team could practice together,” Cameo Carolan, NPHS dance coach, said. “So we were planning this really cool like, concept video with lighting and really awesome stuff. And then we went back to phase one, which means they were pods of 10, and those groups can never interchange.” 

The team would normally practice all together in the girl’s athletic room, but this is not possible due to COVID-19. Mia Nelson, a sophomore who has been dancing for 10 years, is adjusting to the new changes. “As of now, we are practicing in pods in-person at the school outside the GAR or over Zoom,” Nelson said. With the practice restrictions, the team can only practice virtually or with a limited number of people in-person, which is a drastic change from a typical season. 

Carolan is working to figure out how to continue dancing with the new restrictions. “It’s kind of challenging, we have a mix of in-person and virtual practices. So like today, we have one pod meeting with a coach. So I think that’s nine kids,” Carolan said. The team has also encountered limitations dancing due to being unable to practice in their normal area. 

Jenna Mahoney, senior, has been dancing for eight years, and is slowly acclimating with the changes. “Pre-COVID, we practiced indoors with no restrictions on how close we could touch. It was much easier being on the GAR floor and in front of a mirror,” Mahoney said.

The team is currently trying to find new ways to practice and compete. With the team being separated into pods, it is difficult to practice as a whole group, but Carolan came up with an innovative way to keep the kids safe while practicing together. “What we’re trying to do this week on Wednesday and Friday is actually get both pods to show up,” Carolan said. “But be distanced enough apart either on the football field or on the quad that I can still play the music and they can dance together but separate.”

Competing in virtual competitions is not optimal, but the team continues to impress at competitions. The dancers continued their streak and received first place in many categories in their second virtual competition. “Over [Feb. 6th-7th], we had our second virtual competition, where we received 1st place in X-small jazz, 1st place for our concept video, 2nd place in extra small contemporary, 2nd place in contemporary duo, and 3rd place in small jazz,” Mahoney said. 

The team is staying hopeful for the future and preparing to show their talent at upcoming competitions. “We have virtual competitions that we’re doing right now, and then starting February 20, hopefully everything will be okay for us to have our first in-person competition at Westlake High School,” Carolan said.

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