Girls dance as they define all odds

Citlalli Perez, Reporter

“Twist, twirl, and turn.” “Point your toes, straighten your legs, facial, spot!” “Sharper arms!” These are some of the few common sayings at Belvidere North’s dance team practices.

Introduced to North this winter season are new JV and Varsity head dance coaching staff. Both coaches were former dancers who graduated from a well-known NIC-10 dance team, Hononegah High School, as well as continuing dancing throughout college. With a past in dancing, JV’s coach Hailey Foster and Varsity’s head coach Katie Zitzke are determined to reach their optimum goal here at Belvidere North– to simply improve.

In the past, Belvidere North’s dance team was coached by Casey Blum for Varsity and April Carlie for JV. This past year, the girl’s varsity dance took fourth at the NIC-10 conference; which was the highest placing in school history. Zitzke hopes to potentially place top three at conference.

Those who hoped on being on the team were encouraged to attend dancing clinics prior to mandatory dancing tryouts back on October 25. Clinics are offered for those who wish to learn the tryout routine and introduce themselves to a new dancing environment. For most returning dancers, they typically come from the fall season of Poms. This gives them an advantage in the girl’s execution and techniques.

“Being a new coach is extremely rewarding. The girls work very, very hard at practice and they are expected to learn many new skills and tricks in a short period of time. There is no greater feeling than seeing the routine come together and watching the girls perform it so beautifully. I am very lucky to have been included in the North family and I can’t wait to see what the dance teams are able to accomplish this season,” said Zitzke.

Similar to most competitive sports, dance is one where receiving advice from the judges and modifying the dance routines are common. Approaching the NIC-10 dance conference and invitational, North hopes to sharpen up their technique and execute their team scores higher at every competition.

“Dance has been such a learning experience for me this season. I am finally able to perform new skills I’ve never been able to do, mostly thanks to our new coaches. I was a little nervous when I heard we were having a new coach. At the end of the day, I’ve been very pleased with what the coaches have taught us. Our dance team has a bit more work to do but every year we go out and make sure to put on an even better show for everybody,” said Giselle Munoz (‘20).

Though the dance season usually begins the final week of November, by performing at home boys basketball halftimes and the first invitationals, the girls begin to practice the day after they find out what team they made. North’s dance team made their first appearance at the boy’s varsity basketball halftime on November 28 against Harlem.

The dance team traveled to Lake Zurich High School for the Lake Zurich Invite on December 1 to showcase their first winter performance with a new coaching staff. The varsity dance team placed 10. Typically, competitions competed outside the NIC-10 are schools that make it to state or have dancers coming from elite dance organizations. Though the competition is tough, these invites are the ones which improve the team’s execution.  

“Watching my dance team perform at their first competition was exhilarating. I was so proud of each individual dancer for their performance. We still have a lot of work to do as it is just the start of the season, but I expect our scores to improve with each competition,” said Zitzke on the team’s first competition.  

Both Varsity and JV levels competed at the Waubonsie Valley Invitational, which happens to be one of the largest and most difficult competitions against Chicago suburb schools. The teams traveled on December 8 and varsity brought home victory as they sealed a sixth-place finish; the highest placement in school history. Zitzke expresses her joy as “very, very excited” and is prepared for the Dekalb Invite on December 14.

At the Dekalb Invite, the girls didn’t necessarily place high but they didn’t place low. The girls seem to improve every competition they compete at and it is due to the time and effort the girls put in at practice, mostly, every day.  

“The Waubonsie Invitational was like no other. It’s crazy when you literally grow alongside the team. In the last four, our skills have improved so much. Waubonsie was an incredible win for us placing 6th! That’s history right there and there is no doubt we will continue to make history this year,” said Mariana Cardoso (‘19).

While the dance season still awaits two invitationals before NIC-10, the girls and coaches hope to continue improving their routine as the season continues. The girls will be traveling to Huntley High School on January 6, the last competition before NIC-10. After NIC-10, the dance team will be competing at Grayslake Central; the last invite before IHSA Sectionals.