Dance Company scores at Nationals

Christina Liu, Contributing Writer

 While the previous Diamond Bar High School dance groups had competed in the United Spirit Association Nationals, for the first time, the Dance Company entered into the West Coast Elite Nationals.

According to Ryan Hazama, dance captain of All Male who participated in Nationals last year, the change exposed them to new groups but still provided the same experience.

“We felt very happy because we had no expectations going into it since it was the first time we put our dance out there in that category,” he said.

Competing against more than 100 schools in Long Beach in March, the dance team performed on separate days since the competition was split into two days based on group size, with small divisions on the first day and medium to large divisions competing on the second day.

“The Dance Company did an amazing job at Nationals—they put their heart and soul into every performance and it showed!” dance coach Kari Simonson said via email.

At the competition, senior Jonathan Estrada placed fourth among the 125 soloists who competed. Large Lyrical, Small Jazz and All Male placed third, Elite placed sixth, Small Hip Hop placed second and Large Hip Hop placed first.

In Small Hip Hop, Torrey Pines High School took first standing out with their expressive facials and simple choreography. DBHS Small Hip Hop chose to undertake more unique choreography that demanded more stamina from each of the dancers.

“They were really hype, and we could have made that—but since we had last minute changes it was very difficult,” sophomore Grace Chung said.

To prep for the season, the team have practiced every day during zero period and after school for two to four hours a day since October. Students typically spend  an additional 10 to 12 hours a week rehearsing outside of school.

“We are all hard workers as well as very passionate in dancing,” junior Paul Chang said.

With about 40 people, the team’s relatively small size proved to be a challenge at Nationals. This size difference was especially evident in the All Male group, which consists of nine dancers, compared to Large All Males groups which consist of 15 plus dancers. Although this limited the options for creating formations, the group  had to compete  against top teams for the lead title.

“I don’t regret anything from doing this, people who beat us, they deserved it,” Chang said.  

Though the competition did not require any pre-qualifications, the dance company attended a regional competition in February to receive feedback from judges.

“We came out there knowing that we performed our hardest, with that probably being the best we done,” Hazama said.  “We can tell we all connected really well and that we feed off each other to perform our best.”