With a Leap and a Twirl: Battle Dance Team

With a Leap and a Twirl: Battle Dance Team

Madalynn Owens, Yearbook Editor

Hip hop music echoed throughout the commons. The gentle thuds of the girls gracefully landing their leaps were masked by the pounding music. In the front row, Andie Nolla, freshman, decked out in leggings and fuzzy socks, gleefully finished her routine in an impressive drop down into the splits while grinning from ear to ear. There were a total of nine ladies present at practice, making up the whole dance team. Every member was in sync to both each other and the song, executing their routines flawlessly. Their practices started out as many other sports do, with warming up along with static and dynamic stretches. The dancers then either learn new dances or clean up and practice dances previously learned to dazzle the crowd at the next big game or pep rally. The dancers practice next to the cheerleaders for when they need to practice together to learn a dance or cheer they will perform at an upcoming event. After a long and intense practice I was able to catch Andie long enough to ask her a few questions about Battle’s Spartan Sparklers.

Andie has been dancing for almost thirteen years, which is basically her whole life. She heaves a backpack almost bursting at the seams over her shoulder. As she saw my questioning glance she explained she had studio dance tonight too. “I have studio almost every day; I take jazz, hip hop, tap, ballet, lyrical, pointe, aerial silks and competition dance classes at my studio”, Andie commented. Andie’s truly diverse dance background is highlighted throughout the dances choreographed for the team by their coach Danyale Williams. Coach Williams also coaches the dance team at Stephen’s College in Columbia, Missouri. Many of the other girls also have busy schedules of studio dance classes after their dance team practices. It is almost a necessity to keep up with the multiple styles of dance. After seeing some of their routines I was absolutely amazed at the flexibility and talent these girls had and their hard work looked to be paying off, even in practice. Andie, one of the more flexible ones on the team says that “flexibility helps a lot and in certain dances, performers need to be able to go from a needle down to the splits.” With a laugh she says, “You definitely get more fun parts in dances the more flexible you are.”

Andie is an all-around bubbly and fun person, she waves excitedly to her friends in the hallways and always has a smile on her face whether dancing her heart out at practice or talking with her fellow classmates in between classes. She says she joined the Spartan Sparklers because it was something she had never done before and pom dancing (or in non-dancer terms, dance team) was different from studio dance. It was also a chance to get more involved at Battle High School and make more friends. Then before I had the chance to reply and make the mistake countless others before me have made, she informed me “no, we are not cheerleaders. Sure we both do dances but cheer is more focused on, obviously, cheer, stunting, and tumbling. While on the dance team, we have more complex dances that take much longer to learn and have lots of influences from other styles of dance.” Battle’s Sparklers also do not have Varsity and JV teams, unlike our cheer squad at Battle, they all practice together and all of them perform together.

The dance team also had their first ever competition earlier this year in Liberty, Missouri. After many long, grueling days of practice, their hard work paid off and Battle’s Spartan Sparklers shined in front of the judges. The Sparklers placed first in their mix routine and third in the jazz category in the Kansas City Classic High School Dance Competition. Andie thinks this was a really good year for the dance team. She explains she wasn’t here last year to see the Sparklers in their first year, but Battle’s dance team received new members and lots of new talent for the 2014-2015 school year. There was also lots of collaboration with the cheerleaders at games and assemblies. You can see Andie and the rest of the Spartan Sparklers show off their mesmerizing moves at any of the pep rallies and home football games, or at most of the Varsity Boys’ Basketball games and at the occasional Varsity Girls’ Basketball game.