Another season for the Brainerd Warrior Dance Team kicks into high gear Tuesday, Nov. 27, when it hosts the kick portion of the Central Lakes Conference meet.
Scores from the kick portion carry over to the season championship so Warriors head coach Cindy Clough said it’s important to start the season with a strong showing.
“The top two teams to beat in the CLC are St. Cloud Tech and Sartell,” Clough said. “Sartell has become amazing the past few years, as well as Tech, so we will have our work cut out for us. Sauk Rapids and Rocori have really been on the rise too.”
Clough noted that in the CLC, Rocori is coached by Brainerd High School Kixter alumni Lea Frank Hall and Kaylee Gil-Davidge. Sauk Rapids is coached by Brainerd alumnus Sandy Zetah House.
“It makes it tough, as they know all our secrets,” Clough said. “We are proud of them and look forward to a healthy competition with them in the CLC.
Another Kixter alumni coaching, Clough said, is Marny Olson Rohr at Austin.
The team will be dancing to music by “Nikki Minaj.”
“Ali Clough edited the music, which was quite the challenge as Nikki has such great rhythmic patterns and musicality but tends to have offensive lyrics here and there,” Cindy Clough said. “We wanted to have the beats and fun sections, but edited out anything remotely offensive.”
The team’s style this year will have a hip-hop flavor.
“We’re a bit scared to tackle the cleaning of the routine as hip-hop is so much harder to clean than precision,” Clough said, “so basically we will go for precision hip-hop.
“We are focusing primarily on kick with jazz on the back burner since our first meet is kick. Once that is done, we will hit jazz hard.”
The team will be dancing to “So Cold.”
“It’s a song Ali heard playing in the background of a commercial for a show called “My 600 Pound Life,” Cindy Clough said. “She searched for the song and found it. So far no one has used it, to our knowledge, so we are excited about that.
“This year our jazz style will be a serious, very strong, technical and visual performance. Our goal is to create constant visual pictures to increase our choreography scores. We are aiming to look more like a college team, such as the University of Minnesota.
“The U of M leads the country in creative visual and very strong performances. They are the most ‘timed’ team we have ever watched. Their synchronization is simply amazing. Our hope is to capture the look of a college team with our own signature.
“This year we hope to field a team of 16 in the jazz category. Competing in Class 3A, the skill level is so high that it’s hard to have 16 dancers at that level, but we feel we can do it. The level in Minnesota is so much higher than other states that it makes me proud of what our state collectively has accomplished but with a level that high, it sure makes it tough.”
■ Junior varsity
The junior varsity kick team is doing a baseball-inspired theme this season. They will be using all baseball music edited together in a mix. The music was edited by Allie Spieker, a member of last year’s varsity.
“The routine has a high difficulty level as we are trying to really push the JV skill level,” Clough said. “Currently, endurance is an issue, which is always the case at the beginning of the year.
“Our routines are short, only 3 and a half minutes, and it seems like it would be easy to maintain endurance with that short of a routine, but they are intense — an Insanity Workout times 10.
“It’s a big step going from studio dance to the JV or varsity, a real step up in expected endurance. The team is starting to jell and pull together.”
Just For Kix Holiday shows are Saturday, Dec. 1, at 1, 3:30 and 6 p.m. The Warrior Dance Team JV and varsity will be guest performers and will use it to rehearse routines before competing Dec. 15 at Maple Grove.
■ Miss Dance Team
Brainerd’s Grace Gilbertson finished in the top four.
“She gave a flawless performance, nailing everything,” Clough said. “Brianna Niemeyer also competed and ended up making Team Minnesota, a group that will travel to Los Angeles in the spring. Grace also made that team, basically a best of the best team.
“Brianna didn’t have her strongest day while still performing well. I really think her and Grace feed off of each other and have made each other as good as they are with the constant competition between them.
“Grace performed first and nailed it, and Brianna had watched, so I think possibly it psyched her out a bit. Sometimes dance is a bit like golf — a head game.”
Also competing for the first time was Brainerd freshman Hannah Nameniuk.
Freshmen: Ashley Bontjes, Cassie Gardner, Maura Halverson, Annika Mau, Hannah Nameniuk
Sophomores: Stephanie Anderson, Alicia Andrews, Kassandra Blood, Mackenzie Davidge, Samantha Hamlin, Shakyra Johnson, Marissa Knopf, Cierra Meyer-Berg, Haley Norton, Carlie Plantenberg, Alivia Rardin, Haley Schmaltz, Amy Shepherd
Juniors: Lindsey Goehring, Jasmine Ward, Muriel West, Melissa Svoboda
Seniors: Emily Breitling, Abbi Browne, Taylor Carner, Brenna Chisholm, Grace Gilbertson, Carly Lofquist, Brianna Niemeyer
Junior varsity roster
Freshmen: Hannah Anderson, Naomi Bremer, Tarrin Carter, Abigail Colson, Kelsey Garberich, Claire Norlin, Stephanie Peterson, Kyla Slette, Claire Walton, Kalie Ylinen
Sophomores: Alli Franzen, Shayna Harms, Brittney Mudgett, Makayla, Roehl, Justine Petersen
Juniors: Linda Fober, Aryn Rozinka, Trelbie Sobiech
Senior: Samantha Olson