Mundelein dance team leaps into new season


photo by Megan Burns

During practice on Wednesday, Nov. 17, Varsity Captain Jackie Pienta, junior, works with Freshmen Rose Madison, Emma Kisselburg and Samantha Jaffe on one of two routines being performed at the Mundelein Invitational on Sunday, Nov. 21. Pienta said, “We will be competing throughout December and January, and we are working hard for [our first competition.]”

Megan Burns, News & Features Editor

After finishing third at IHSA State Finals last year, Mundelein’s varsity dance team is ready for the 2021 competition season without as many COVID-19 restrictions that were present previously.

This season is going to go back to normal [as] we are no longer limited to social distancing guidelines,” Melanie Arango, head dance team coach, said. “Last year, all of our competitions were virtual, and we even had restrictions in what we could do in our choreography.”

In order to follow the COVID-19 guidelines last year, the varsity dance team performed without an audience, too, said Varsity Captain Ella Rose Carlson, senior.

“Having the stands full really makes a difference in our performances,” Carlson added. 

Now, with competitions being in-person again, the team will have routines that are “very unique,” and the team will see “many new additions,” Varsity Captain Jackie Pienta, junior, said. 

We plan on putting in time and effort to cleaning and perfecting our routines so we will be ready for the upcoming season,” Pienta said. “We are able to put lifts and partner work into our routines– we couldn’t last year due to COVID-19– and are working our technique at every practice.”

The dancers have also worked on team skills to “improve [their] score at competitions,” Senior Heather Nensel said.

Although it will be hard to be better than last year, the whole team is motivated to work hard and to put a lot of effort in during practice to make our routine look spotless,” Nensel said.

Unlike other sports at Mundelein, the varsity dance team holds its practices at Diamond Lake School in order to “practice in a space as close to the size of a gym as possible,” Arango said.

The team heads over there after school and has figured out carpooling for those who do not have their license or a car,” Arango said. “We’ve been making it work and are grateful for a solid practice space.”

Along with coaching Mundelein’s varsity dance team, Arango is a professional dancer for the Chicago Luvabulls.

I think my recent experience of dancing for the Luvabulls has allowed me to step back into a position similar to the girls on Mundelein’s dance team,” Arango said. “I am now also on a team like them as a dancer instead of a coach. I haven’t been on a team since I was in college, so being back in a team setting as a member is allowing me to relate a bit more to my own dancers.”