Pantherettes and Bengalettes shine on the state dance floor

by Samantha Lefebvre
Sports Writer

The Spring Lake Park Dance Team accomplished what it set out to do in third consecutive state appearance and made it to the final round of six in the Jazz Division at the State Dance Tournament on Feb. 17 at the Target Center. The Pantherettes were unable to make the final round for the High Kick Division the following day, Feb. 18, and finished in ninth place.

Blaine Dance Team members, from left: Sam Zebro, K’ryn Bunker, Karissa Bolton, Erin Stewart and Rylee Smeriglio take a leap during its Jazz routine in the Class AAA state preliminaries. Photo by Bill Jones

Blaine also had the goal of making it to the final round in both divisions, but they fell just a few points short of the final six during their 12th consecutive appearance at the State tournament placing seventh in both the High Kick and Jazz competitions.
Jazz Results
The Wayzata Trojet Dance Team earned their fifth Jazz title in Class AAA, making the defending champions from Maple Grove settle for second place. Eastview of Apple Valley took third for a fourth consecutive year. Eden Prairie, St. Cloud Tech, and Spring Lake Park rounded out the final three spots coming in fourth, fifth, and sixth respectively.

“Our team did very well in both the jazz and kick competition,” Spring Lake Park coach Jennifer Blaido said. “We had the best performances we had all season.”

Judges observed the routines and awarded points based on a 100-point scale. Judging criteria were subdivided into five categories: Jazz Skills, Execution, Choreography, Difficulty and Routine Effectiveness. Unique to the Jazz Division, the skills category focused on technique of turns, leaps and jumps, and the difficulty of those skills.

An All-Tournament Team for Jazz was also selected at the end of the competition. Each of the six teams who placed in each class nominated two dancers for the honor. Representing Spring Lake Park for the Class AAA All-Tournament team was Becky Lambert, and India Bembry.

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“Our All-Tournament Team dancers were selected because of their hard work and dedication to the team,” Blaido said. “Our captains were selected for the honor of being named All State.”

The young Blaine Dance Team came in seventh place in the Jazz division, just a few points behind the Pantherettes. After adding 16 rookies to the roster this season the Bengalettes knew they had a tough road ahead of them this season, but they decided to push aside all the things that could potentially hold them back and in the end proved a lot of people wrong by making it to the State tournament.

“The state tournament was very new to many of our dancers this year, they did a great job and I am hoping it will help motivate them in future years,” Blaine coach Trina Develice said.

Spring Lake Park fans show their spirit for the Pantherettes during the state preliminaries. Photo by Bill Jones

High Kick Results
Eastview of Apple Valley rose to the top in the High Kick Division the following day, successfully defending their 2011 title making it their second consecutive crown and their sixth overall. Eden Prairie was the runner-up for the second year in a row, Brainerd came in third, and Apple Valley finished in fourth. Wayzata, who won the Jazz competition the previous day,  finished in fifth place and St. Cloud Tech placed sixth.

Once again judges observed the routines and awarded points on a 100-point scale. The criteria, like the Jazz division, were subdivided into five categories.

However, particular to this division is the Kicks category, for which the judges look for technique, height, and difficulty.

Blaine finished in seventh place again the second day but in the High Kick division. They finished with a score that lagged St. Cloud Tech by just a few points.

“Our goal for next year is to continue building our dancers to be even stronger,” Develice said. “To be at the state tournament this year, with the amazing teams that were there, was quite an accomplishment and our goal is to push our team to get to the state tournament again next year.”

The Pantherettes came in ninth place in the High Kick division. Although they did not move on to the final round the second day, the Pantherettes are already looking ahead to another successfull season next year.

“My goals from year to year are usually pretty much the same, be the best we can be,” Blaido said. “The team had to work hard to get where they did this year. I hope as always that our program continues to grow and develop our dancers through hard work and dedication.”

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