Naperville North and Waubonsie Valley dancers’ journey to the big stage

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The local area has many talented dancers at schools like Naperville North, Waubonsie Valley, Neuqua Valley, and Benet Academy. All four were in the IHSA Competitive Dance Finals last month where North finished fourth and Waubonsie tenth. The Huskie girls, who won the 3A State title back in 2019, were DVC and sectional champions before their run at state this season. The Warriorettes placed in the top two at sectionals then the top ten finish at state, which is the highest in the program’s history. 

The grind continues for Waubonsie Valley and Naperville North

Even though the competition season is over, the grind never stops for these girls. By this time, teams are already reaching out to choreographers and figuring out which songs they want to work on for next season.

“Our choreographers will come in over the summer and then we’re on pause until the competitive season starts in October. I can get started with the team, rolling, and putting in some new ideas, some skills, and some new choreography to really spice it up to bring the best thing that we can,” said Becky Paul, head coach of Naperville North dance.

The dancers will spend countless hours and days perfecting dances for their songs over and over again while constantly making adjustments to the routines.

“I feel like we just strive to be better every time. So, even the videos that we took over the summer of this routine to what we just performed at state do kind of look drastically different because of the girls and their abilities,” said Jen Maginity, head coach of Waubonsie Valley dance.

Dancers creating connections 

During the course of learning the routines, the dancers spend a lot of time together where they develop special connections with one another.

“One of the best things about us is that we are a small tight knit group, so we’re super close, we’re always going out to lunch, going out to dinner together, we have a bunch of team bonding exercises. One of my favorite highlights is that we always have a breakfast the day before we leave before state and that’s always something fun that we get to do just to celebrate how hard we’ve worked for the season,” said Bianca Garcia, sophomore dancer for Naperville North dance.

“Our close knit team, I love it. We’re literally like a group of sisters so it’s just so fun to go to school. If you have a bad day at school, you can go to dance and we’re all one big happy family,” said Ella Stevens, senior captain for Waubonsie Valley dance.

North and Waubonsie girls working hard

What people might not know about these dancers is there is so much work being done along with trying to perfect their routines.

“There’s so much that goes into it that people don’t really realize. There’s a lot of stuff outside of school along with inside of school we have to do. There’s practice, but also competitions are also outside of school,” said Kendall Mathew, junior captain for Waubonsie Valley dance.

“It’s all about practicing hard and really looking forward to what’s going to be in the future. So, starting in fall, of course, we have Poms season for football games, but we’ll eventually start the conditioning then and then that leads into winter season,” said Avery Pierce, senior dancer for Naperville North dance.

These dancers are always busy, but even with all the hard work they put in, they’re still having fun fine-tuning their routines at the same time. The song choices can run the range of a more modern hit like, “Out of the Woods” by Taylor Swift, used by Naperville North this year.

While Waubonsie really enjoyed performing the classic song, “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac.

“This season, just getting introduced to the routine and seeing the choreography that was going to be our routine all year was so fun. You could say this one’s just a little funky or weird, but that’s just the best part of it because that’s kind of something I really enjoy doing. It’s embracing all those weird moments in performing on stage,” said Drew Taylor, senior captain for Waubonsie Valley dance.

The evolution of dance in the DuPage Valley Conference 

The success both Naperville North and Waubonsie Valley have achieved goes to show how much the sport of dance has evolved since becoming an IHSA sport in the winter of 2013.

“Over the last ten years, I would say the development of the competitive dance team, IHSA state competition, has greatly increased the level of competition. I think that the athleticism in between the dancers, the expectations of skills, technical elements and quality of movement has really increased the most between then and now,” said Paul.