Dance competes at national event in Orlando

Catherine Liu, Staff Writer

The Diamond Bar High School Dance Team combined top-level competition with a great vacation when the group travelled to the Disney Hotel in Orlando, Florida for the Contest of Champions.

“In the East Coast, it was a different set of judges so we got different types of feedback than what we typically get back at home, and it give us a different perspective on how to look at things,” dance teacher Kari Simonson said.

The 38 students stayed in Orlando from March 1-5, visiting Walt Disney World before competitions started.

“My experience in Florida is something I am never going to forget,” junior Christine Heman said. “My favorite part of the trip was definitely watching different teams from around the country perform at the same place, you don’t usually get to see such amazing dancers in one area at one time.”

The team spent the first day practicing their routines before spending their second day at Disney World. They then headed into competition on their third and fourth day before spending their last day at Disney World again.

“They had a great time, they came off the floor proud, happy and excited of what they out on the floor. [Me] and the coaches are proud of them because it was a great experience,” Simonson said.

Against 88 schools, Medium Lyrical had placed fifth while All Male and Extra Large Contemporary placed second. The Small Coed Hip-Hop took the title of National Champions while the Medium Coed Hip-Hop placed second and the Small Hip-Hop placed third. The Medium Coed Hip-Hop also won the Choreography Award.

In February, the team competed at the West Coast Dance Elite Championships at Esperanza High School in Anaheim.

“The entire company did really well and the success of one is the success of everybody. We celebrate that as a company and as a family,” Simonson said.

This is the team’s second year attending this contest, entering nine dance categories compared to five from last year, with the categories ranging from lyrical, hip-hop, groups and solos. Also for this year’s competition, the small female group changed to the medium female group category.

The team competed against 15 schools, and had different soloists place at the competition. Senior Angela Yambao and sophomore Caitlin Raymundo placed 12th in their respective grade solos, and Avery Maroj placed third in the 11th grade solo. Meanwhile, for the improvised solos, junior Katherine Tran placed eighth in contemporary while Heman placed first in hip-hop.

“I think this competition really brought them together and they started to see the results of the process, so it was a great step that they needed as we head into the rest of our season,” Simonson said.