Dance team places 2nd at Mundelein Invitational


Photo by Hadyn Nuttall

The Mundelein Dance Team performs their hip-hop routine, ‘Dior’, a mix of “Bodak Yellow” by Cardi B, “Tom Ford” by Jay-Z, “Dior” by Pop Smoke, and “Billie Eilish” by Armani White.

Hadyn Nuttall, Sports/Entertainment Editor

  On November 20, 2022, the Mundelein Dance Team hosted the annual Mundelein Invitational with 33 teams competing.

  Their contemporary dance to I Care by Beyonce won second place. “Getting second place at our own invitational has been the best moment of our competitive season,”  said senior captain Jackie Pienta, “Being able to do it on our home court with so many friends and family has been a highlight of my senior season.”

  Placing this well was especially important to the team after a division change last year which made their season more challenging. Due to the increasing size of the school, the dance team moved up a division and now competes against the largest schools in the area. 

  “After a difficult season last year, it was great to hear that we have already placed second at a competition so early into the season. Our team has worked so hard in the last two months to perfect this dance and we loved to see that our hard work is worth something,” said senior Alaina Merkel.

  As they prepare for their subsequent competitions, the team has been working on applying judges’ comments to make their dance the best it can be. 

  “We have been working all season to portray stories through our movement and push ourselves to do more than we think we can. I would say our goal as a team is to just dance better and better at each competition,” said Pienta.

  The team’s ultimate goal is to return to the state competition and place well. 

  At the state competition, the top 12 teams move on to the second day. Last year they didn’t make it, which has been a strong motivation for the dancers this year. “My goals for this competition season would be to raise our scores at each competition and ultimately make it to state on day two,” said varsity coach Melanie Arango. 

  Not only does the team face the challenge of competing against much larger schools they also have to work around limited rehearsal space. 

  “One of our biggest challenges is not having a practice space at the school. We practice at Diamond Lake School every day after school,” said Merkel. “A big part of what we are scored on at competitions is what our formations look like throughout our dance and without gym space it is hard to set a strict formation.”

  The team has also challenged themselves this year by competing with two dances. Especially with only limited time to rehearse.

  “It never feels like enough,” said Arango. 

  The dances are also different styles, contemporary and hip-hop, which presents its own set of challenges.

  “The dances are just so different that we have to really focus on having the team reflect different aspects for each,” said Arango.

  Although competing with two dances has challenged the team, the dancers have risen to the challenge and enjoy it. 

  “I like competing in two different styles as I am able to express myself in different ways. Competing an emotional, contemporary piece to an explosive hip-hop routine creates a balance and dichotomy that makes dance that much more exciting,” said Pienta. 

  The dancers have embraced the opportunity to polish their skills in multiple styles and feature the varying talents of their team. 

  “I really love competing with both contemporary and hip hop dances because it really allows us to highlight so many different dancers on our team who specialize in different styles,” said Merkel. “I also love how fun it makes practice to be able to split up our energy into two very different types of dances.”

  The team works hard at practice to prepare for their competitions and puts their all on the floor when it’s time to compete.

  “The two minutes we spend on the floor for each dance are some of the hardest minutes of my life,” said Pienta. “What has gotten us through the exhausting routines has been commitment to the end as well as the idea that it’s ‘only two minutes of your life’.” 

  Only two minutes won them second place and, they hope, will take them even further to the second day of state.