After first-ever competition, dance team focuses on improvement


Matt Petres

The dance team performs during a varsity basketball game on Jan. 5.

Zara Siddique, Audience Engagement Manager

As one of the first dance team invitationals of the season begins, dancers from across the state run across the floor of the Maine East High School gym in partially assembled costumes. Teams practice in various corners with their competition music quietly playing as they huddle together in a bonding moment before their performance. 

For the first time, the U-High’s dance team is among them. 

The dance team is now recognized as a competitive athletic team with the Illinois Drill Team Association. The team had been trying to gain approval from Lab’s athletics department, and this year approval finally came through.

“We’ve always really wanted to compete, and last year we talked about it a lot, but it was only this year that we could negotiate a position for the dance team that would allow us to compete,” team captain Lena Stole said. 

The competition team is a smaller subset of the current team, which performs during most basketball games. 

The team had its first competition on Jan. 8 at Maine East in suburban Park Ridge, scoring a 73.6 out of 100, and senior Lizzie Baker qualified for state with her solo performance. The team members are now focused on improving their performances rather than comparing themselves to other teams.

“Seeing as it is their first year competing, we really are competing against ourselves,” coach Nichole Magliocco said. 

To qualify for state the team has to score at least 80 out of 100 or above, Ms. Magliocco said. She believes this goal is attainable for the current season in other competitions in the coming weeks.

Being part of the competition team is a larger time commitment, for the members practice an additional three times a week. 

Lena said that this actually has strengthened the relationship of the team due to the increased time they’ve spent together, meeting at school early in the morning for practices and to travel to competitions. 

“We get there at 6:45 a.m. and take the bus together, which is really great because we get to bond on the bus,” Lena said. 

The dance team is competing only in hip-hop this year, but Ms. Magliocco plans to add poms to the competition roster. She hopes the teams can continue improving and growing for the years to come. 

“We’re going to adjust what needs to be adjusted in our second competition,” Ms. Magliocco said. “I told the team I just want them to beat their own score.”