About Coach Erin

Erin is a 17 year veteran dance team coach in Minnesota. A 3 time MADT coach of the year (2009, 2010, 2014) and winner of 2 state championships in high kick with the Cannon Falls Bomber Dance Team. In high school Erin danced for Winona and Apple Valley high schools. Erin is a nationally known blogger, writing for the Radio City Rockettes and a Hollywood movie among other projects. Erin also teaches on a freelance contractor basis for many MN high school teams and can be contacted for date/time availability at mnhsdanceteam@gmail.com


Season Midway Point Summary

Well we’re finally at the holiday break and the dance team season is over half done already!  I can’t believe we’re already talking about state plans and who will be looking good to make it to the big dance.  I have some thoughts on how things have gone so far and what to look for in the upcoming January invitational season.  

Class AAA:
Kick: AAA kick is having an interesting year after the departure of two of it’s state finalists into AA and there is no clear leader in my mind at this point.  I tend to reserve judgement until the “state dances” make their appearances (for teams that make a switch) so not seeing anyone bring their best is pretty normal for this time of year.  The biggest surprise might be to see who is actually planning that switch at all, considering I’m seeing good money spent on “one time” costumes that might never make my state tape.  Eastview traditionally changes, and I’d put money on them doing so again, but Burnsville and Apple Valley are much more questionable.  EP looks invested into their wedding reception theme, and Brainerd with their “girls” mix.  Overall I think teams are on to something good – I’m being more entertained this season than recent memory, but there is a lot more contrast between the good sections of routines and the “oh boy, you should fix that” parts this year.  I think there will be some re-vamping over the break to hone in on what is making those dances work, leaving out the “well, we tried that” parts. 

Jazz:  On the jazz side of things, I think we’re experiencing a touch of rebuilding and refocusing of the AAA division.  I’m not being blown away with skill, but it’s nice to be reminded that some of the top teams are actually just teenage girls for a change.  With the talent being in more of an ebb, I think creative coaching and working that scoresheet will win the day.  Eastview is really jumping out to me as a truly entertaining and thoughtfully put together dance, a place the Lightning haven’t usually found themselves in this time of year with jazz in the recent past.  If they can consistently take 3rd with a rocky start, I would look out for what they can do when things seem to be clicking early.  Wayzata and Maple Grove both look strong, but MG looks like they’re still building their talent a bit this year – does that leave the door open for a new champ?  We’ll have to see.  Overall I think the story here will be the teams that are on the bubble for going to state or won’t make it at all – the general level of skill and choreography has been catching up and section 4 looks especially strong.  Should be some exciting matchups to come.  Key events: Wayzata Invitational, Sections
Class AA:
Kick:  Well this is a CROWDED field to say the least – I’m just glad it’s not me making the decisions.  Chaska, Faribault, Austin, Simley, Holy Angels, and Benilde all look to be taking the challenge of section 1 seriously, but there isn’t a clear pattern yet showing us a hint of the state lineup.  At this point Holy Angels might have the furthest to catch up, but they graduated a huge senior class and got a new coaching staff that will take time to get on track.  Benilde is taking a risk doing a “jazzier” dance to the themes from “Rio” which could boom or bust, and Faribault is playing their cards close to the chest as usual, giving no indication if they’re changing their dance they way they did in AAA.  St. Cloud Cathedral appeared to be making a charge back to the top, but inter team drama might get in the way as  they’ll be looking to replace their entire coaching staff mid-season.  So I’m not putting my eggs into anyone’s basket just yet in this division.  Even Sartell hasn’t won everything, so it’s going to come down to the best on that day.  
Jazz:  Chaska and Totino seem to be covering some ground in this division, with the rest of last years finalists looking strong to return to the target center.  This division might be the strongest of all the jazz in the state, with even some generally average teams bringing some clean turns and leaps to the floor.  Key events: Totino Grace Invitational, Section 1 Championships
Kick: This is a tough one to call since so many teams compete in entirely separate circuits right up until state.  Aitkin and Cannon Falls will undoubtedly be strong, they’ll have a once a season matchup in Alexandria next week that should tell us more.  One big remaining question mark will be YME who doesn’t compete at all until January – I’m curious to see if they’ll be my dark horse for a kick medal this year. 
Jazz: with so many of the top teams graduating big numbers of jazz dancers, it’s a wide open field for who can do the most with what they have.  Duluth Marshall, Cannon Falls, and Frazee have all looked good when they’ve gotten out there so far, with Aitkin and YME still working behind the scenes.  Key Events: Alexandria Invitational, Marshall Invitational, State


  1. Anonymous says:

    Don't leave out LQPV-DB from A kick. I haven't seen them yet but they WOW me every year at State. I am sure they will agian this season. with placing 3rd two years in a row I am sure they are going to bring everything they have to try and get in those top 2 spots. I will get to see all tops 3 state winners go head to head in Alexandria and I can't wait to see it!!! I am sure YME will be strong too. with being 4th the last 2 years I am guessing they are going to bring a strong dance and work for the top 3 agian. I have seen Cannon and didn't think they were as strong as they have been in the past, but that was early in the season. I am sure that with a few changes they will be ready for Alex. I have also seen Lakecity and thought they had a great routine with wonderful color change. They looked like a new team and I am sure they will be pushing hard to get in the top 3.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Eastview and Burnsville always change their dances (they have done that for the past 10 years or so), so you can be pretty sure that they will continue that tradition. Last year was the first year Apple Valley kept their routine for state. I wouldn't expect them to do that again this year. Unless their routine is doing well, they change it. However, what they have done in years past is keep the majority of the choreography and change songs, or keep the same song and change the choreography. I hope they just start from scratch. I'm interested to see how Brainerd and St. Cloud Tech will do against the top teams. They were not at the Eastview invite, so they really have only tested their routines against Apple Valley at their invite. Hopefully they were invited to the Eastview Showcase so I can see for myself how their routines look. Can not wait to see how this all plays out at state!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Why is cathedral getting rid of their coaches?

  4. Coach Erin says:

    That's a good question. I don't have any official word from Cathedral at this point, so I'll just stick to saying it seems like they had a serious enough reason to make this move mid-season instead of waiting until spring. Whatever the details, everything seems to be pretty controversial. I'll see if I can get some official word on the issue.

  5. Anonymous says:

    From what I have heard, it was VERY controversial and sends a bad message in how parents who have the money to send their kid to a private school often have more power than even administrators. It is a terrible situation, and I feel incredibly sorry for their coaching staff and the girls who have now been effected by this change.

  6. Anonymous says:

    wow! Sounds tough. I know their head coach is EXTREMELY talented and has been a major reason why their program has been so successful. But such things have occurred before…like Benilde St. Margrets getting a new head coach after 2009–after a controversial issue as well. Hope it all goes smoothly for Cathedral and they can bounce back and remain a strong team!

  7. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if more of the attention at State will be on A and AA…not saying AAA won't be amazing…but seems as if A and AA are improving so much that the race is going to be tight…where AAA are more in rebuilding years …I think A/AA have been improving so much and with new teams now in AA–I think the talent is going to be unbelievable! As far as I'm concerned there won't be a clear winner in AA till finals! it's going to come down till the last 6 dances at finals!! I think in A we will see some “underdog” teams bring it & maybe squeeze into those top 3 spots! There's a couple that have been in that 4 and 5 spot the last couple years that it is only a matter of time before they zoom up to the top 3! I'm thinkin this year is going to be insane

  8. Anonymous says:

    Interesting review, I agree on most accounts. I have to agree that that AA is very exciting this year and I think they are overall the strongest class not only in jazz but in kick as well! I would love to hear more about Cathedral’s coaches. All I know is that their coaches tend to have awful sportsmanship. I have been underwhelmed with AAA as a whole.

    I think not saying there is a likely line-up in 1AA is probably a little off. Chaska and Faribault have been placing above all the other teams in the section. I mean anything is possible, but I think Chaska and Faribault are very likely to go. I think the third spot is the one up for grabs.

    As far as jazz I think Chaska is the front runner, so far, to take the whole thing. Their choreography is amazing and is on a whole different level that the rest. They also have more difficulty and better technique that their competitors. But that is my take, but I think they are undefeated so far this season.

    AAA is interesting because I have heard that pretty much all teams are doing major revamping in kick or changing their dances. Based on what I have seen, most teams in AAA have kick technique to work on, which shows they are pretty much all rebuilding. My biggest hope is that come up with some great dances for sections. Only time will tell.

    I think 2AAA jazz is still going to be the most interesting section. With the absence of Chaska in that section, it leaves a chance for EP, Hopkins, or Minnetonka. From what I have seen so far they all could have a shot. I do think overall Wayzata has the up on every everyone else, but their dance is underwhelming compared to their past dances. If MG changed their dance, they could have a shot.

  9. Anonymous says:

    AA is crazy this year! In my opinion, Chaska is going to win state in jazz this year. I know it is early to say, but I do not see any other teams toppling them. Kick on the other hand… well that is up for grabs. No single team has come out as a leader. I believe as of right now, Chaska is the front runner, but St Cloud Cathedral and Sartell are close behind. And there is still Totino-Grace in the mix, along with whoever else makes it out of section 1AA (my prediction is Faribault and Benilde). If those are the six teams that happen to be in finals, well than I might have to make a first in my life and switch to watch AA finals instead of AAA.

    AAA is also turning out to be a very competitive as well. I agree that this is not one of AAA's most stellar years, but we still have not seen what some teams have in store for state. Wayzata, Maple Grove, and Eastview seem to be heading to the top three places once again for jazz, but I could potentially see a mix up in things. With Eastview improving year after year in jazz, it would not surprise me if they snuck in and took the second place spot away from what I believe is Maple Grove's position right now. Although, Hopkins (the team I see as taking that third place spot in 2AAA) may also play a role in finals and swoop into a third place finish at state. Really, jazz this year comes down to Wayzata, Maple Grove, Eastview, and whoever else makes it out of 2AAA.

    AAA kick I feel like is more of a toss up than jazz. I think it is not really who will be in the top three at state, but more who will fill the 4th, 5th, and 6th place spots that is interesting. The way I see it, Eastview, Eden Prairie, and Burnsville are in good shape to be the top three teams. The ones I see fighting for the last three spots are Apple Valley, Brainerd, St Cloud Tech, Wayzata, and Maple Grove. One or two of those teams may sound like underdogs, but it is state and ANYTHING can happen.

    Both AA and AAA kick is what I am really looking forward to the most. AA kick's finals will be probably be the best finals seen in a long time, while the AAA final announcement will be a nail biter. GOOD LUCK TO ALL TEAMS!

  10. Anonymous says:

    I saw someone mention above the Eastview Showcase, Is that really happening? I heard, I guess you could call them “rumors” about it, but did not know if it was actually happening?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Yes, Eastview is having a showcase the last weekend of January. It is invite only, and from what I heard, they only invited the top teams in the state. I am almost positive Apple Valley, Burnsville, and Wayzata will be there. I assume Maple Grove and Eden Prairie will be there as well, but I haven't heard anything about them yet. However, I do not know if teams are doing jazz, kick, or both.

  12. Anonymous says:

    AAA has not been overwhelming for awhile in kick, since Eastview's military dance. AA has better kicks than AAA but lacks somewhat in choreography. A as usual has a lot of different things going for them. I think Aitkin and Cannon will be the two top dogs with 3rd going to the team that is best prepared for state. Get ready for A jazz however. I think a dominate team is going to step forward at Alexandria!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Don't leave Spring Lake Park out of AAA Jazz either, they're dance this year is beautiful and a very similar style to their Drops Of Jupiter dance from 2010. I can see them placing well at state with their routine.

  14. Anonymous says:

    To the comment saying AAA has been underwhelming since Eastview’s military dance. Sorry I completely disagree. What about Chaska in 2008 with Shazungle, Eden Prairie in 2009 with Bollywood and Eastview in 2009 with Janet, Maple Grove 2010 with Bailamos and Chaska in 2010 with Eterna (one of my personal favs), and Eastview in 2011 with Viva? These are all such amazing dances. All of these dances lived up to Eastview 2007. Some of the dances I mentioned above will go down in DT history as some of the most innovative and creative dances in AAA to ever be danced.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I guess I am with everyone else. I think AA is nuts this year! I am going to switching sides to watch AA this year myself!

    AA: I predict Chaska will win jazz. I can't even think of the team that could top them. Kick I think the top three are between Chaska, Sartell, and Totino or Cathedral. My bets would be on Chaska or Sartell.

    AAA: This is way harder to predict. I have Wayzata as the front runner right now. I think the top three are going to be the same as last year, but the order could switch up. Hope Maple Grove changes their dance, could make things much more interesting. Kick I’m waiting to predict anything. Right now EP's is my favorite kick dance, with Burnsville behind them. But I know that Eastview is changing their dance, and I anxious to see what they do!

  16. Anonymous says:

    How has AAA been underwhelming? “Viva las Vegas” is EASILY the most entertaining routine to grace the state floor. Yes, it did not have the best kicks and most amazing choreography, but it was the best performance I have personally ever seen. And AAA teams have just as good, if not better, kicks than AA. Nothing against AA, but I have never really enjoyed their state routines (last years top three were impressive however). When I try and think back to who did what, they all kind of blend together. Not saying AA girls do no work hard, but trying to compare AA and AAA is almost like comparing apples to oranges. They have two distinctly different styles. AA teams are starting to branch out now with ideas and choreography for dances, but as of right now, in my opinion, AAA is still the superior class.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I agree with the comment above; I find generally find that AAA is a bit more interesting. However this year, I totally think AA had stepped it up and topped AAA as far as who has put together great dances. I have found that AA teams have really branched out of their comfort zone and produced some really amazing dances this year. I think anyone who knows and loves dance team would agree with this. In kick the AA teams that are have some really amazing dances that you should see; Totino Grace, Chaska, St. Cloud Cathedral and Sartell could take on any AAA team. And in jazz, Chaska would beat almost any AAA team. Totino Grace and Benilde would also do well against AAA teams, and would certainly make AAA finals if they were there.

    Both classes are great, I don't think it is a matter of what class is superior, they are both strong. And they DO compare to each other.

    I think AA is very fun to watch this year. The addition of some teams to AA has made interesting.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Do you know anything about the Eastview Showcase that's coming up?

    1. Coach Erin says:

      No I don't have that schedule, and I don't see it made public anywhere at this time. The best I know is that it's evening, 7pm. If anyone has that schedule and would like me to post it, I always take submissions. I'm also looking for more section schedules – I have 2AAA and 3AAA.

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