The bright lights of the IHSA dance stage shined in Ella Ruston’s ‘20 eyes as she and the rest of the poms team walked onto the stage to perform. This competition, one of the two state competitions the team competes in, allowed the team to display a year’s worth of hard work.
The team bused down to Illinois State University, where the competition is held, on Friday, Feb. 8.
“State is different than normal competitions,” Ruston said. “The floor is different, the stage is different and even the way we walk on is different.”
The team had to adjust to the marley floor, which is different from the usual wood floor that they are used to practicing and performing on. In addition to the floor, the team has to enter the stage from the back when they are used to entering from the side. These differences are just some of the things that make the state competition more challenging.
“We didn’t end up with the score we were hoping for but that didn’t affect how proud we were of the performance and actually making it to the state competition,” head coach Brittany Smith said.
The team focuses on growth more than winning, Smith said. “I always tell the team that I want them to be good people first. It is more important to show hard work and positive attitudes.”
According to Ruston the team’s biggest strength is motivating each other on and off the dance floor, so they didn’t let this set them back.
The team had a second state competition run by the Illinois Drill Team Association, or IDTA, the weekend of Feb. 14th, where they qualified earlier in the season to perform both a contemporary and poms number.
“We were very happy that we were able to qualify both routines at our first competition,” Smith said.
The team competed in the Varsity AAA Pom-Dance Category and placed fourth as well as the Varsity AAA Lyrical/Contemporary Category where they placed first.
The team’s success can be attributed to the years of practice that the dancers have had as well as the bond the team members have, Smith said. Many of the dancers have been dancing together for multiple years.
“The team members have had many years of training behind them and are intelligent dancers so they are able to adapt to changes quickly,” Smith said.
IDTA was the last competition of the season for the poms dancers. Tryouts for the 2020-2021 team will occur on May 21.