Join me as I follow a brand new MSHSL dance team through their first competitive season! Let me preface the following article by letting readers know that while the views presented are objective as possible, my “lens” is slightly (as one might say) “tinted”. I have run a youth dance program in St. Michael for the past seven years, and many of my dancers are current or future members.The excitement that the community has developed around this team is amazing!
Andrea Doom- Dance Team enthusiast for more than 20 years and counting
FROM NOTHING-TO-NEW-TO NOW!
Upon walking into St. Michael-Albertville (STMA) High School, one has to practically go out of their way to avoid running into conference, section, and even state championship banners. To be quite honest, STMA is pretty good at just about every activity and athletic program they offer. The newly reorganized Knights Dance Team hopes to add to the success. After building their program for the past two years, the STMA Knights Dance Team will compete as a MSHSL eligible school in class AAA.
In the spring of 2015, members in the communities of St. Michael and Albertvillle recognized that while they had a number of studios producing talented dancers in their area, they did not have an option for those girls to share their passion on a school-sponsored dance team. About 10 years ago, the school operated a very small dance program, but the team never really took off. The community knew they had to take a different route to gain and retain interest. Through social media, a grassroots” campaign (led by parents), solicited the names of interested families as young as 5th grade. Additionally, the parents actively sought out potential coaches who a) had a clear vision for building a brand new program and b) understood the concept of a MSHSL competitive dance team. Head Coach, Jen Klemmensen, and Assistant Coach, Emily Fausher, quickly rose to the top of the list of qualified candidates.
While parents (who had compiled a list of dozens and dozens of interested families) were ambitious about getting a team going, the school’s athletic department was more hesitant. Understandably, they wanted to take steps to ensure that the team would not “fold” for a second time. A compromise was made which allowed the dancers to practice and perform through STMA Community Education. Essentially, the team could operate practices and performance similar to a MSHSL dance team, but they could not make cuts or compete. The team had to prove that they were able to sustain interest and raise an adequate amount of money. With between 50 and 60 dancers enrolling each season, there was no shortage of interest or support.
For the past two years, the team has attended Just For Kix camp, held regular practices, participated in a number of fundraisers, performed at school-sponsored events, and danced at shows in neighboring communities. Each and every effort brought forth by the dancers, their coaches, and families brought them closer to becoming a MSHSL competitive dance team….a goal they never lost sight of.
In early 2017, the parents, coaches, and dancers of the community education sponsored dance team, were put on the school board agenda to become a MSHSL competitive team. The long wait was worth the price as the team was unanimously approved to become a MSHSL competitive team for the 2017-2018 dance team season. The St. Michael- Albertville Knights Dance Team began their first official season on Monday, October 23, 2017.
School Population: 1,804 Students (9-12)
Total Number of Dancers (9-12): 36
Teams: Varsity Kick & Jazz, Junior Varsity Kick & Jazz, B-Squad Jazz, (they are also fielding a 6-8 Middle School Team)
Team Name: Knights Dance Team
Coaching Staff: Jen Klemmensen, Emily Fausher, Danah Blaha, Alexa Peloquin, and Kristine Wasik
Conference: Mississippi 8
First Competition: Monday, November 20, 2017 @ Chisago Lake High School (Mississippi 8 Conference Meet)
The 2017-18 St. Michael-Albertville Knights Dance Team
(photo credit- Emily Fausher)