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WHS jazz dance team heads off to state tournament

WORTHINGTON — The Worthington Trojettes jazz dance team is heading off to the state tournament for a second consecutive year after placing fourth Saturday at the Section 3A Dance team high kick and jazz competition in Montevideo.

The team will depart for Minneapolis today after a 2:30 p.m. pep festival in the Worthington High school gym, where the WHS band will play and the team will perform in front of students.

WHS jazz dance team coach Caitlin Werder said the squad is ready to compete against 11 dancelines on Friday. She noted that the team’s qualification for the state tournament last year came as a surprise, but the goal this year was a return trip.

“They have done more than what I expected this season from them so I couldn't be prouder of my team,” Werder said. “It’s just great to see the girls they are becoming this season.”

The team started putting the choreography together last October and has built up its confidence throughout the season, capping its efforts with a sharp performance at sectionals.

“Section was probably one of the best times I have seen them dance,” Werder said. “They were trying their hardest to give the judges and the audience what they wanted to see. So they have been prepared since that day … now it’s up to them to feel the music and dance their hearts out on that dance floor.”

WHS Jazz Dance team member Julia Luke, a senior, said she’s eager to have another opportunity to compete at the state level, adding that the accomplishment has helped the team believe in its skills.

“I am really excited because last year was such a new thing for us, and to make it back again this year I think is solidifying that it was just not a fluke,” she said.

Though the team has been successful this year, Werder explained that it had to overcome the pressure of competing, as well as injuries and sickness that often arose in the midst of tournaments.

“So combining all of those together, they definitely worn down the team, but the girls have remained strong and they were determined to get to state,” Werder said.

On top of the team’s hard work, Werder said the experience gained from last year's tournament is going to be valuable as the Trojettes aim to improve upon their ninth-place finish.  

“We know the teams a little better now and we know what to expect from them a little better than we did last year,” Werder said. “We know what kind of level we need to bring our girls to get to that next round.”

Luke said it has been a hard season filled with laughs and tears, but added that she knows all their efforts are going to be rewarded.

“It has really weighed down on all of us because of the stress and the emotion that we have been putting into,” Luke said. “We are kind of worn out, but we are very excited to be going back and we know that the hard work is going to pay off.”

Luke thinks that each member’s previous ballet experience, which is greatly incorporated in the choreography, is what sets the team part from others, but there is something else that makes them stand out.  

“Before we go out there we stand with our arms around each other and give each other hugs and tell each other good luck and really mean it, and I think it helps us to dance together better,” Luke said. “Being close with each other helps us enjoy dancing more — rather than focusing on making sure we are all together — because we know we are together.”

Werder said that the school has been highly supportive of the team, not to mention the parents of the Trojettes.

“I think our biggest supporters this year has been our parents,” Werder said. “They have driven to every single competition to watch these girls … so I really appreciate those parents taking the time out of their weekend to come out and watch these girls because I know it makes them dance better.”

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